I joined the MSU community to participate in building a stellar undergraduate program in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and to support a now nationally recognized graduate program in Rhetoric & Writing. I also joined the MSU community because it seemed an ideal place to support the research I conduct in Computers and Writing, a subdiscipline of Rhetoric and Composition.
I served for 5 years as the Director of the Professional Writing undergraduate program. In that role, I conducted assessment for the Professional Writing program in consecutive years 2005–2009; redesigned the assessment methods and measures for Spring 2010; wrote significant annual reports; helped grow the major from approximately 50 students to more than 100 students; served as academic advisor for all of the majors; and served as internship director.
As the Director of Professional Writing, I served as lead advisor for all of our undergraduate majors, directed undergraduate professional development (including leading the internship program), coordinated with a broad range of administrators and faculty across campus, and liaisoned with our Community and Industry Advisory Board members. I engaged these tasks not only as administrative or "service"-related work, but also as intellectual work. Inquiries that fueled the work I have done—and continue to do—with and for the Professional Writing program include:
- working to situate technical and professional writing as relevant to and appropriately anchored in humanities approaches and traditions
- addressing issues related to technical and professional writing in a changing global context
- ensuring a programmatic balance between rhetorical and technical skillsets
- emphasizing attention to infrastructural and curricular sustainability within and across the program
My research, teaching, and service interconnect in key ways. The core of my research agenda is digital writing practices. Specifically, I'm interested in how individuals negotiate, retain agency, and express identity within digital environments. I'm interested in how communication happens across digital networks, and within spaces where writers and audiences can be computers and continents apart. I'm interested in the ways in which humanities scholars can anchor relevance in digital spaces—as archivists, as translators, as cultural analysts, as communicators, and more.
I'm interested in the ways in which intellectual property and other legal and ethical issues can be viewed from humanities vantage points, generally, and rhetorical vantage points, specifically. I'm interested in how Rhetoric and Composition, and scholars in Computers and Writing specifically, can best equip students with the skills to engage 21st century best practices in writing, and how we can resituate what it means to think about and teach "writing" in a digital age.
My research seeks to answer both large-scale and fine-grained questions, such as:
- How do virtual and/or computer-mediated interfaces shape our writing and reading practices?
- How do computer-based spaces force individuals to resituate themselves, to rethink their subjectivity?
- How have we best adapted research methodologies for online spaces? For example, how do we conduct ethnographies in online communities? In what ways are virtual case studies different from (and similar to) traditional case study approaches?
- What issues arise in the representation of online participants and in the use of participants' digital writing (e.g., within chat spaces, on blogs, on web sites) in research reports? How are computerized technologies raising new (or remediating old) ethical issues for writing researchers related to privacy, individual rights, and representation?
- Where are the significant intersections between intellectual property and writing, especially where multimodal, digitally produced, and network-published compositions are concerned?
As is obvious by my publications and presentations, and particularly given the nature of my work, I highly value collaborative work—the tradition in the natural and social sciences, now becoming valued in the humanities as well. Digital spaces, especially, tend to cultivate the development of meaning, ways of working, and creation of content in collaborative ways. Digital spaces create room for scholars with different emphases to collaborate on analyzing and producing "texts" that include not only alphabetic text, but visual material, audio material, and more.