Gallery Content

PRC Research Projects

The English Department and The Program in Rhetoric and Composition are proud of their perfect placement record for graduates in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Below is a list of dissertations completed and positions taken by our graduates, as well as research interests of our current graduate students.

PRC Students' Completed Dissertations and Accepted Positions


Sarah N. (Nikki) Holland, defended in July 2016, will go on the job market in Fall 2016. “Designing Place-Sensitive Professional Development: A Critical Ethnography of Teaching and Learning Argumentative Writing.”

Paige Hermansen, now Assistant Professor of English, Westfield State University, Massachusetts. “Selling College: Student Recruitment and Education Reform Rhetoric in the Age of Privatization.”


Jennifer Mallette, now Assistant Professor of English, Boise State University. “Engineer as Writer and Woman: Gender, Identity, and Professional Discourse.”


James A. Anderson Jr., now Assistant Professor of English and English Education, Lander University, South Carolina. “’We Can’t Reclaim What We Don’t Understand’: Teachers’ Perceptions of Advocacy and Voice in a Rural Institute of the National Writing Project.”


Evelyn Baldwin, now Lecturer (Full-Time, Continuing) in the Program for Writing, State University of New York at Albany. “Reading and Religion: Reconciling Diverse Reading Patterns and the First-Year Composition Classroom.”


Jason (Jake) Edwards, now Assistant Professor of English, Georgia Gwinnett College. “Do eBooks Motivate Adolescents to Read: Observations on the Intersection of Technology, Literacy, and Identity Formation.”

Robert Griffith, now Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, Ozark Technical and Community College, Table Rock Campus. “Wayfaring Strangers: A Case Study of Rural Developmental Writers in the Missouri Ozarks.”

Leslie Seawright, now Associate Professor of English, Missouri State University. “The Literacy Practices of Law Enforcement.”


Gamil Al-Amrani, now Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Jazan University, Saudi Arabia. “Multiple Literacies, Fragmented Identities: Arab Students at American Universities.”


Jessie Blackburn, now Associate Professor of English, Appalachian State University. “Critical Digital Literacies: Following Composition Pedagogies into Twenty-First Century Contact Zones.”


Allison Harl, now Associate Professor of English, Ferrum College, Virginia. “Selling the Story as Souvenir: Sociocultural Uses of Print in the Literature of the American West.”


Laura Blankenship, now Dean of Academic Affairs, The Baldwin School, Philadelphia. “Interactivism: Transforming the Composition Classroom through Blogging.”


Current Ph.D. students’ research interests

Meagon Clarkson-Guyll is interested in studying issues related to placement of students in writing courses via indirect measures, such as multiple choice tests, in contrast to direct measures, such as actual writing samples.  She is also interested in the conceptual and curricular connections between writing courses labeled as “remedial” or “developmental” and mainstream college composition courses.

Angela Cox is conducting an interdisciplinary project that seeks to arrive at a descriptive definition of genre by synthesizing academic definitions with discussions about genre in popular spaces. The core of the project is a description of the fantasy genre as participants (fans and writers) understand it, which leads to the definition of genre as a transmedial, mutable, associative, recognized system. The project uses conversations collected from two fantasy-centered internet communities and employs qualitative data analysis to establish authority networks within the genre and create a model of how a "genre space" functions and regulates itself. 

Uyen Dang aims to understand how learners from a different cultural and linguistic background learn to read and write at a new community, specifically the influence of this background on their literacy learning, the strategies for learning to write at a graduate level, and their difficulties of learning to write academically. Dang focuses on Vietnamese learners of English who are pursuing graduate degrees at colleges and universities in the United States.

Erin Daugherty is interested in studying shifts in composition pedagogies post-9/11, with the distinct rise of public rhetorics of fear and fear-mongering in the U.S.  She is curious about how space and place participate in student literacy acquisition and learning, with a specific interest in digital literacies and Living Learning Communities, and how composition pedagogies can use students' out-of-school translanguaging practices as course subject matter and content, at both the university and high school level.

Jonathan Green contests the common assumption that writing is a mysterious, arcane, even innate talent that some have and some don't.  Drawing on cognitive psychology in general but a sister humanity, music, in specific, Green shows writers can improve by using the same practice techniques that musicians use to improve, such as setting their own goals, operating within the "zone of proximal development," valuing error as a learning tool, and gaining metacognitive awareness. Cognitive psychology at large suggests that such practice habits--especially metacognition--are the hallmarks of experts in any discipline, so it stands to reason that we should attempt to foster these habits in writing classrooms.

Sam Morris is developing a framework for studying and teaching contemporary young adult literature (YAL) in both the secondary and post-secondary classrooms. First, he locates the origins of YAL in the nineteenth-century British novel in order to attach an already-existing critical/theoretical apparatus to YAL, both in its development throughout the twentieth century and in the current twenty-first century cultural explosion. Next, he develops a casebook of examples of different ways to use that critical/theoretical apparatus to work with and better understand YAL from the viewpoint of a scholar and/or a teacher. Finally, relying on literacy and pedagogy research, he argues for significant incorporation of YAL in the secondary English curriculum to meet both the literacy and the developmental needs of adolescent learners.

Sara West explores how student-users compose in anonymous and/or ephemeral social media spaces, and how composition and technical communication researchers can begin to navigate these spaces as well. Her study builds from an earlier project in which she collected and analyzed data from the then-anonymous (now semi-anonymous) social media platform, Yik Yak. A more complex understanding of student use holds implications for many, particularly researchers of online spaces, technical communicators, and instructors, especially as anonymous and ephemeral applications continue to grow and change.