Alumni

If you are an alumna/alumnus, we would love to add your bio and story to our website. Please click this link to complete our alumni/alumnae survey or contact Amy Devitt at devitt@ku.edu


Amanda Sladek

PhD, 2016
Assistant Professor of English, University of Nebraska-Kearney

I currently serve as UNK’s Basic Writing specialist, and I teach 2 sections of our English for Academic Purposes course each semester in addition to other intro-level, upper-level, and graduate courses. My research interests include composition and Basic Writing pedagogy, literacy studies, and English language studies. My latest research focuses on incorporating multiliteracies into class discussions and writing assignments in order to engage students and aid in their critical thinking about literacy.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

When I first entered the program, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I knew that I liked writing, but I initially wanted to study political rhetoric. Through my coursework and my job as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, though, I discovered that I really loved teaching (which, honestly, came as a bit of a surprise to me)! In my second year, I revised a literacy narrative assignment I’d used in my Intro to Comp course, hoping it would engage students more (especially those who weren’t interested in reading and writing). It didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time, but through my work in Dr. Reiff’s seminar on writing knowledge transfer, it led to my interest in literacy studies and became the basis for my dissertation. I didn’t hone in on Basic Writing until late in my graduate career, but it was a natural transition from what I had been doing. We have fantastic people at KU, and each one of my faculty mentors gave me a new lens or a new way to approach my research and teaching. Had I entered a different program or pursued a different specialty, I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today!

Rachel Bloom-Pojar

PhD, 2015
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Rachel's research focuses on cross-cultural rhetoric, translation practices, transnational health programs, and community engagement. She teaches classes related to rhetoric and writing, and is interested in the intersections of medical, environmental, and cultural rhetorics. Her forthcoming monograph with NCTE's Studies in Writing and Rhetoric series presents a theoretical framework for a "rhetoric of translanguaging" based on the ethnographic research she conducted with a temporary health program in the Dominican Republic. This framework aims to challenge language hierarchies, promote collective approaches to translanguaging, and cultivate spaces for critical reinvention between institutional and communal discourses.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My degree and mentors from KU helped me in numerous ways, from preparation for teaching a variety of classes to participating in professional life. My first job after graduation was a position in Technical and Professional Writing at the University of Dayton, where I taught classes related to medical writing, health literacy, genre theory, and composition. As I move into a position in Rhetoric and Composition at UW-Milwaukee, I hope to reflect the care and compassion that my KU mentors exhibited in my own teaching and mentoring with MA and PhD students. One of the best parts of KU's Rhetoric and Composition program is its support for students to pursue their individual interests, and the diversity of those interests demonstrated in our graduates' scholarship. The program encourages individual attention and support, and prepares us well as teachers who understand the theory and practice that inform composition pedagogy today. My ability to participate in various interdisciplinary conversations stems from the classes I was able to take in other disciplines in my time at KU. Also, starting and participating in the KU Ars Rhetorica chapter gave me the opportunity to learn from other rhetorical scholars in Communication Studies to better understand our similarities and differences. Although I did not see genre theory as a specific area of specialization for me, the benefits of having learned how to teach through a genre awareness approach continue to positively influence how I approach teaching a variety of classes. Finally, seeing how collaborative the Rhetoric and Composition faculty are with their colleagues at other institutions was helpful in my own connections with others and my understanding of the benefits of collaborative research and writing.

Alexis Catanzarite

MA, 2015
Senior Academic Advisor and Staff Lecturer, University of Kansas

I manage a case load of 300-400 Pre-Medical students at the University of Kansas, advising them on both the academic and extracurricular requirements necessary to being a competitive applicant for medical school. Additionally, I am the staff advisor to eight different student organizations on campus, serve as the Chair of Kansas University Advising Network's Cultural Competency Committee, collaborate with the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity on various programs, and teach sections of both UNIV 101: First Year Orientation Seminar and LA&S 492: Applying to Medical School in the fall and spring semesters.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My Rhetoric and Composition degree, as well as my experiences in teaching first year composition, gave me the analytical and assessment skills necessary to understanding how to steward students down a path of academic success.
 

Jason Barrett-Fox

PhD, 2014
Director of Composition/Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, Weber State University

Dr. Barrett-Fox works at the intersection of rhetorical theory, historiography, feminism, the history of technology, media studies, and the new materialism. His current book project, Gender, Rhetoric, and the Technology of Critique, is currently under contract with Ohio State University Press. He is the recipient of the 2013 American Society for the History of Rhetoric's Outstanding Dissertation Award and the 2012 Elizabeth Flynn Award for outstanding article on feminist theory in the field of rhetoric. He lives with the other Dr. Barrett-Fox and their three kiddos and two puppies at the foot of the Wasatch mountains in Ogden, UT.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My work with Dr. Farmer and others in the department was life-changing! KU is an excellent place to study, with brilliant, productive, and humane faculty. I was very lucky to study with a cohort of amazing scholars with whom I remain close.
 

Kendra L. Fullwood

            PhD, 2014
           Assistant Professor of English in Rhetoric and Composition, Johnson University

I just completed my first year as Assistant Professor, and it was a very busy yet rewarding year. In the Fall, I not only taught Engl Comp but Rhetorical Theory & Investigative Research, and The Rhetoric of Prophetic Black Preachers. For the Spring, I held Writing Consultations for the School of Arts & Sciences. To launch this pilot service, I created and disseminated communication via email and flyers to the campus community. Additionally, I gave oral presentations about writing assistance and what to expect in a consultation in our Faculty-Plenary Session and to various classes in the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Bible & Theology. Ten (10) students emailed and met me for consultations, including one graduate student. Five (5) out of the ten (10) students returned for a 2nd and 3rd consultation. What some students came to get assistance for was even more intriguing: one student brought a paper from his theology class in which he argued the hip-hop artist, Kendrick Lamar, is a theologian; and another student came for assistance with a letter to mail to the Major League Baseball Commissioner about his seeming lack of concern for the tragic deaths of a number of baseball players. While meeting with 10 students may not be much, I am pleased with the students I have been able to work with thus far because it is enough to demonstrate (and prove what all faculty members here knew all along) that writing assistance is definitely a need here. More importantly, the English Program Director and the Dean are pleased as well. Thus, I will continue the Consultations next year. I was able, however, to still pursue by own research interest. I presented a paper at the Cultural Rhetorics Conference held at Michigan State University in October 2016. The paper was titled: "Against Aristotle: The African American Preacher as a Sophist." Of course, some of this was extracted from my dissertation on the extracurricular and literacy practices of the black preacher ("extracurricular" in the Anne Ruggles Gere sense of the word and "literacy" in the Beverly Moss way of studying black preachers). With much critical feedback from the audience and fellow panel members, I will work to get this published (to work on over the summer).

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My degree contributed greatly to this position. Even though Johnson is no longer strictly a bible college, they still provide a sound biblical/theological education (as well as liberal arts) to their students, most of whom a preparing to be preachers or to go into some type of ministry or mission work. These bible instructors & scholars believe strongly in exposition, hermeneutics and analysis, so writing is already important here. Thus, they desired to have someone who knew writing theory and pedagogy. I am their first Rhet & Comp hire (as well as their first African American female professor here) so I heavily relied on what Kansas taught me as a GTA and lecturer. What I mean by that is having attended all of the norming sessions, teaching sessions, when at times I did not see the need of it but began to appreciate it more as I became an advanced doctoral student. Also, some of the problems I encountered with students due to race and gender I now realize benefitted me, for now I know how to deal and respond professionally, with a cool head; my job is to always assist my students, regardless of their prejudices. If they resist, it is on them, but it will not be because I am not doing my job as a professor and as one who believes in the mission of the university (I haven't had that problem yet anyway). Additionally, courses like the Study and Teaching of Writing, Public Sphere, Composition Studies, Cultural Rhetoric, etc. I still use as my resource, having still kept the syllabi and bibliographies.
 

Jennifer Nish

PhD, 2014
Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut

I'm an assistant professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University of Beirut (AUB). My first book project explores the ways that feminist groups attempt to create transnational public discourse by using specific digitally-mediated genres and rhetorical strategies for relational and identificatory purposes. In 2016-17, I received an Andrew W. Mellon faculty fellowship from our university’s Center for Arts and Humanities, as well as a grant from our University Research Board for a project exploring AUB students’ development of activist consciousness and diverse forms of engagement with gender- and sexuality-related politics.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

Rhetoric and Composition scholarship is central to my research, including the questions I am interested in and my method of answering those questions. This degree informs my approach to teaching, mentoring students, and doing administrative work. Even the interdisciplinarity that is so important to my research and teaching can be traced to the ways that I was able to integrate multiple disciplines into my coursework, exams, and dissertation. This flexibility has been really useful as I've worked to develop new research projects that are informed by the context in which I live and work.
 

Erin Behncke

MA, 2013
Graphic Designer, Texas Medical Association

I graduated from KU in May 2013 with a MA in Rhet/Comp (Visual Rhetoric emphasis) under the direction of Dr. Frank Farmer. After leaving KU, I moved home to Austin, TX and sought a position in graphic design, my undergraduate degree. I worked for 3 years as Graphic Designer for Community Impact Newspaper, and recently took a new position as Graphic Designer with the Texas Medical Association in Austin. I create brochures, posters, flyers and advertisements promoting TMA & its various nested organizations.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

I decided after 2 years of student teaching that I was not meant to be an educator, so I am not really using my degree at all in the traditional sense, but I am always on the lookout for conflicts with text/image while making advertisements and print publications to ensure the most rhetorically effective campaigns and promotions are put on display.
 

Jennifer Brussow

MA, 2012
Psychometrician Assistant, University of Kansas

Data-driven psychometrician and educational researcher. Interests include the application of statistical models to data from educational interventions, Differential Item Functioning, and Diagnostic Classification Models.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

Though I am now pursuing an unrelated Ph.D., I find I am able to articulate complex findings much more clearly and concisely than many of my colleagues. This "edge" benefits me in professional and academic settings.
 

Erin Williams

MA, 2007; PhD, 2011
Owner and Copyeditor, Laughing Saint Editorial, LCC

As an academic, I studied conceptual metaphor theory, English grammar and linguistics, literary theory, and writing pedagogy. After graduating from KU, I accepted a tenure-track position as an assistant professor of English and a writing program director. I left academia after a good run (including and especially a fun and surprisingly useful article about Bakhtin's carnival character masks as portrayed in the movie Borat which was published in the Australian journal Philament) and started my own copyediting company, Laughing Saint Editorial LLC, named after Saint Philip Neri, who left academia for a life of service to pilgrims in Italy. My business has grown considerably, and I've hired subcontractors to help me write or edit everything from books to blog posts for nonprofits, academic publishers, and entrepreneurs in insurance, legal services, accounting, and finance, among other sectors.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

There are many talented copyeditors in the world, but there are surprisingly few with a PhD in rhetoric and composition and a background in rhetorical genre theory and English-language studies. Working with genre theorist Dr. Amy Devitt and linguist Dr. James Hartman prepared me to be of service to clients in almost any sector and around the world. My background in pedagogical theory and practice and extensive mentoring from Dr. Sonya Lancaster and Dr. Frank Farmer prepared me to be of service to clients as people with their own backgrounds, agencies, and objectives. I'm one of the most flexible, knowledgeable, and accessible copyeditors in the game today thanks to my educational and professional experiences in the English graduate program at KU.
 

Rob Topinka

MA, 2011
Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sussex

After completing my MA at KU, I enrolled in the PhD Program in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Northwestern University and graduated in 2015. I am currently Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England (lecturer in the UK is the equivalent of assistant professor in the US). I research race, cities, and technology, and I teach in the Media & Communications degree. I have published articles on race, news media and policing; citizenship and migration; digital photography, terrorism, and surveillance; and walking and suburban space (in this one town you might have heard of--Lawrence, Kansas--nice place). I'm currently developing a project on digital media and the extreme right. I also have an ongoing project on the history of race, media, and urban culture.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

The Rhetoric & Composition degree allowed me to explore a range of ideas, theories, and disciplines while also training me to be a reflective and engaged teacher. I took courses on everyday life, race and digital media, and genre theory that continue to inform my scholarship. I'm still good friends with a lot of people I met through KU, and KU Rhet/Comp still shapes my work. In fact, I'm still in a reading group with people I met when we were Rhet/Comp grad students.
 

Joy Bancroft

MA, 2011

Instructional Designer, America’s Job Link Alliance-Technical Support

My current position is an Instructional Designer for a software company, which entails creating and maintaining user guides, facilitating user training, and managing social media and a company blog. My background as a college English instructor and writing center professional provides me with the communication skills to work with clients tactfully and effectively. My experience in tech writing and scholarly publishing has resulted in an eye for detail within project management and supplemental material development. My education and research focused on assessing and developing digital literacy in college learning commons, and in 2016 I published an article in Computer and Composition on this topic. I am currently pursuing an MLIS degree while working full-time and freelance copy editing.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

I have been out of academia for about two years working in the software development industry. While I miss the unique challenges of teaching, tutoring, and researching, I feel my MA in Comp/Rhet has equipped me to communicate effectively across a variety of contexts, such as writing user guides and blog posts, leading user training webinars and business conference sessions, and speaking with customers about their instructional needs. I could have entered this field of tech writing without an advanced degree, but the combination of the courses I took and the experience teaching and tutoring writing has positively affected how I write and speak to different audiences.
 

Kelly Chrisman Jacques

MA, 2009
Managing Editor, University of Kansas Press

I work as the managing editor at the University Press of Kansas—a scholarly book publisher that represents all six state universities and is located on KU’s west campus. I handle the production of twenty-five to thirty new print titles a year, file preparation of print-on-demand titles, and conversion of all e-book titles (frontlist and backlist). I oversee the work of two full-time in-house staff, freelancers, and printing vendors; create and monitor a departmental budget; and collaborate with the press’s management team to assist with press operations.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

As a grad. student, I was able to land a part-time position at the press; this was essentially a foot in the door to a publishing company where I've worked my way up the ranks. My thesis work focused on the role of copy editors in publishing, research that went hand-in-hand with my career.
 

Justin Sevenker

MA, 2009
Assistant Professor of English, Lorain County Community College

After graduating from KU, I earned my PhD (also in Composition) at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. My dissertation, "Old English Composition: Literacy and the History of English in the United States," examined the history of "the history of the English language" as a school subject, particularly its intersections with teacher training and writing instruction in the 20th century--research that I continue today. I am now completing my first year in a tenure-track position at LCCC, a large community college just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. There, I teach courses in composition, literature, and the humanities, and I help to direct the writing program.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

I can't oversell the preparation that I received at KU. There, I learned how to plan and complete complex scholarly projects; how to teach a range of courses with creativity and care; and how to undertake the daily work of administering a large writing program. My time at KU contributed directly to my success in my PhD program and in my current position at a mission-driven institution that I am excited to serve.
 

Lisa King

MA, 2002; PhD, 2008
Assistant Professor of English, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

My research and teaching interests are interdisciplinary, and include cultural rhetorics with an emphasis in contemporary Native American and Indigenous rhetorics, visual rhetorics, and material rhetorics. More specifically, I work with the rhetorics of cross-cultural sites such as Indigenous museums and cultural centers, and theorizing cross-cultural pedagogy through the teaching of Indigenous texts in rhetoric and composition classrooms. My scholarship has appeared in JAC, Pedagogy, College Literature, Studies in American Indian Literatures, and American Indian Quarterly. I am co-editor of Survivance, Sovereignty, and Story: Teaching American Indian Rhetorics with Joyce Rain Anderson and Rose Gubele (2017 CCCC Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention), and my own monograph, Legible Sovereignties: Rhetoric, Representations, and Native American Museums is forthcoming in August 2017.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

It is the foundation on which I've build my career so far. My training as a scholar and a teacher is rooted in KU's program, and the mentoring I've received from its faculty has provided critical support in my pursuit of an academic career. The flexibility of the PhD program in particular allowed me to develop my path of study; the dissertation I wrote for my degree was the beginning point for my book, and the critical pedagogy expertise I developed has shaped my teaching and my scholarship, too.
 

Matt Hollrah

PhD, 2005
Professor of English and Chairperson, University of Central Oklahoma

Matt Hollrah is a Professor of English and the Chair of the English Department at UCO. He received a B.A. in English from Oklahoma State University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (poetry) from Western Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas. Hollrah’s academic interests include composition theory and pedagogy, rhetorical criticism, modernist poetry and poetics, semiotics, and the intersection of epistemology and literary interpretation. He lives with his wife, Julie, and their two children, Sadie and Simon, in Edmond, OK.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My PhD is a generalist degree in English Language and Literature. However, my dissertation dealt with a hefty dose of composition and rhetorical theory, and virtually all of my conference presentations as a graduate student concerned composition and rhetorical theory and practice. Furthermore, my experience as an FSE administrative intern provided me with a glimpse into how to run an FYC writing program. I was also fortunate to receive a teaching assistantship while at KU. I believe these experiences made me a bit more competitive in those departments seeking a colleague who could teach composition, run a writing program, and potentially teach introductory literature courses. I have worked as the Director of Composition at two institutions, and I am certain that I would not have been hired at either institution without the strong Rhet/Comp background that KU provided.


Donna Binns

PhD, 2004
Professor of English, Eastern Illinois University

I teach courses in English Language Arts education, professional writing, accessibility, genre theory, and composition and rhetoric. I have published articles in Indiana English, Kansas English, The Dangling Modifier, Illinois English Bulletin and the essay collection Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure. My research interests include the transition from high school to college writing, media studies, disability studies, and composition pedagogy. I have served as a member of the Film Studies Minor Committee and the Women's Studies Program Committee at EIU and as Co-Director of the Eastern region for the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. I have also sponsored EIU's Tennis Club and co-sponsored the Badminton Club.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My PhD work at KU fully contributed to my current position as a full professor at Eastern Illinois University. I teach a variety of classes because KU's program allowed me to explore various interests in the field, including English education. My PhD thesis combined my interests in teaching high school and college writing. I love my work here at EIU, and it wouldn't have been possible without the education and teaching experience I received in KU's PhD program in Rhetoric and Composition (though when I was there I think it was called Composition Studies).
 

Angela Jones

PhD, 2001
Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of Internship Program, Western Kentucky University

In her work at WKU, Angela Jones teaches a wide range of students, from those enrolled in the Gatton Academy (Kentucky's first residential high school for gifted and talented students, repeatedly named the #1 high school in the country) through those completing MA or MFA degrees in English. She also enjoys working with students from the sciences, who make up the majority of her Technical Writing classes. As founding coordinator of the department's internship program, Angela has built workplace partnerships, placed dozens of students, and mentored those students through their internships by teaching the program's accompanying classes. Angela has been honored with a college-wide service award for her volunteer work with the Bowling Green International Festival and the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society. She also served as the first Faculty Fellow in her college office, sampling life as an administrator for one year. In 2011, Angela completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and, with three friends, founded a community yoga studio; she currently manages the studio and teaches there each week.

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

My study in Rhet/Comp helped me land my first job (as a generalist at a small liberal arts college) and my current job (as a professional writing specialist at a large regional university). Teaching technical writing at KU as a grad student allowed me to learn about the field that has become my professional life.
 

Anis Bawarshi

PhD, 1999
Professor of English, University of Washington

I am a professor of English at the University of Washington, where I specialize in the study and teaching of writing, rhetorical genre theory, writing program administration, and research on knowledge transfer. I am co-managing editor of the journal Composition Forum and coeditor of the book series Reference Guides to Rhetoric and Composition. For ten years I directed the first-year writing program. My publications include Genre and the Invention of the Writer: Reconsidering the Place of Invention in Composition (2003); Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy (2010, with Mary Jo Reiff); Scenes of Writing: Strategies for Composing with Genres (2004, with Amy Devitt and Mary Jo Reiff); Ecologies of Writing Programs: Profiles of Writing Programs in Context (2015, coedited with Mary Jo Reiff, Christian Weisser, and Michelle Ballif), and Genre and the Performance of Publics (2016, coedited with Mary Jo Reiff).

How My Rhet-Comp Degree Contributed to Where I Am Now:

First and foremost, it taught be how to teach, especially teach writing. It also provided the foundation for me to serve as writing program administrator, to conduct research in genre and writing, and importantly, it provided a model for me for how to mentor graduate students.

 

 


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