I enjoy the chance to work through my ideas in research presentations. This page provides videos of the presentations I've given, with recent ones first.
This was my first time presenting on teaching professional writing, and I think it turned out well. As the image shows, the campus where the conference was being held was beautiful! It was built in the 1400s, went through a lot of changes, and recently re-opened as a school again. Abstract: Business communication training materials regularly enjoin students to write ethically. Especially in the context of job application materials, this is often framed simply as a matter of accuracy, of applicants representing their accomplishments truthfully. But there is also a much more challenging component of ethical communication: that we are all embedded in structures of injustice, and that we are liable to perpetuate these structures even without the malice associated with lying. For example, studies of job networking in the US have shown that historical racial discrimination has racialized people’s social networks, such that (absent some action) job networking tends to perpetuate racial wealth inequality. Communicating ethically in a business setting, then, requires recognizing and resisting oppressive structures discursively. This presentation asks how our business communication training can help students incorporate ethical inquiry at a structural level.
To investigate this question, this presentation describes a pilot intervention in a business communication course for students to learn to analyze the racial impact of job networking in the US. This contributes to the wider pedagogical goal of teaching job application documents. Job applications are so laden with urgency and power dynamics for students that extended ethical reflection can seem like a luxury. Moreover, in the US, race is a delicate topic precisely because it’s systemic: white people often view themselves as having no ill intentions toward people of color, and therefore as outside of racism. It thus makes a powerful case study in the possibilities of teaching students to write ethically in the midst of systemic injustice.
The intervention consists of exposure to and discussion of Daria Roithmayr’s concept of racial “lock-in.” In the chapters that students read, Roithmayr uses lock-in to explore how, even in the absence of people’s prejudice, job networking in the US can contribute to white advantage, and alternately how to help dismantle it. To evaluate the intervention, I use pre- and post-activity student response data to analyze how students construct the potential of discursive interventions in systemic injustice in business communication, and suggest refinements for the intervention. Watch the presentation and Q&A.
How would we know if we're getting better at teaching over time? I describe a low-effort, high-insight strategy for instructors to learn from their own teaching efforts across semesters. The most obvious measures of teaching innovation (like students' final grades, or students' course evaluations) aren't very helpful, especially for gaining disciplinary insights. I propose that instructors keep a list of all the major things they changed that semester, paired with a disciplinary measure of student learning. In my case, that was the final essay from just the median-scoring student. Comparing the five median essays from five spring semesters of my classes reveals that students are increasingly able to write a developed, insightful, and generically appropriate research essay. Students also improve in the delicate writing move of creating a research gap. View the full poster.
This presentation was an early version of my QJS article on ethical interdependence. Opening: This panel is about dilemmas encountered when working with people as scholars. In my current research, I work with mostly white people from Second Church, as they seek to grow in being against racism in practical ways in the mostly black neighborhood of Familyfield. I find that this creates a dilemma for me: scholars expect me to be mobile, publishing quickly and moving new places for jobs, but people at Second Church expect me to develop stability, growing roots in one place as a way to be an effective community worker. To the extent that this is a dilemma, there is the possibility that I could undermine or even undo some of the interracial trust that people at Second Church are building in Familyfield. In this presentation, I make two moves. First, I describe this dilemma in more detail, and argue that it’s invisible as a dilemma within scholarly lines of thought. Then, I work toward a set of interaction models to make my mobility/stability visible as a dilemma. I argue that this set of interaction models is flexible, generative, and facilitates critique of academic norms.
This presentation explores a chapter from my dissertation on a post-evangelical language ideology, and investigates how it might be useful for antiracism work. Abstract: What role can white Christians play in pursuing antiracism? To address this question, I draw on the term “language ideology,” which in anthropology and sociolinguistics refers to a group’s self-understanding of what language is good for (Silverstein 1979; Woolard and Schieffelin, 1994; Irvine and Gal, 2000). Language ideology as an analytic lens thus allows a rhetorical focus on a group’s self-understanding of their communication - what it can accomplish in social life. I first review the dominant perspective on Christian underpinnings to civic participation by describing the “Protestant” language ideology, which touts sincerity as an ethic of speech. Importantly, the Protestant language ideology is deeply intertwined with modernist projects of individuality and selfhood. This makes it difficult for white people to draw on effectively in pursuing anti-racism, which requires attention to community, history, and material shaping of communication. Then, as part of what Middleton et al. (2015) call “participatory critical rhetoric” in a project working with white people from a church who are trying to be more actively against racism, I identify three characteristics of an alternative language ideology that I call the “Christian witness” language ideology. I find that rather than sincerity, the Christian witness language ideology privileges a speech ethic of attentiveness (to what God is doing). I suggest that this set of assumptions about what language is good for may be fruitful for white Christians who are working to bring social freedom through working discursively and otherwise against racism.
This presentation was the first one based on my dissertation research. In it, I make a range of claims that I draw out more carefully in the dissertation text itself as the project took shape. Abstract: While scholars often observe how students’ religious commitments impede rhetorical education (Crowley; Daniell), I point us to religious rhetorics that may actually equip students for effective college writing (Carter). I describe the contours of one Christian rhetoric, the “Christian witness,” that emphasizes using power to serve, receiving others hospitably, and building relationships through humbly exchanging situated meaning. This rhetoric is aspirational because it sees religion as a process of growth, as a verb that must be enacted and lived into over time in a community. The Christian witness thus aligns with feminist “invitational” rhetoric (Foss and Griffin); as an aspirational rhetoric it may provide surprising access points to composition insofar as it, like invitational rhetoric, teaches that rhetorical performance is growable rather than fixed by static ability. Writing instructors who frame learning to write as an extension of learning “to religion” may help appeal to students who participate in an aspirational religious rhetoric. More generally, recognizing the possibility of aspirational rhetorics may facilitate a rapprochement between religious people (students and instructors alike) and composition studies.
This presentation is my only scholarly output from an early ethnographic study I did on multimodality. Opening: In this presentation, I describe the findings from observation in early 2013 of a 10-week after-school program (which I call “Hip Hop Hope” or just “Hope” – I should warn you that that’s a pseudonym and the real name sounds less cheesy). Hope teaches kids life skills through teaching them hip hop. Specifically, I observed a cohort of five high school sophomores who came to Hope as part of a black male development program. In weekly 3-hour sessions, they wrote their own hip hop songs and recorded them on professional equipment with the help of two instructors, Donte and Bill, gradually working up to a mix-tape with five songs, cover art and a music video. Each week I was there observing, taking notes, recording audio, and occasionally interviewing them. At at the end I collected artifacts in the form of their notebooks. I ask two questions. First, a descriptive question: What modes are used, and how? In other words, what is the reach of each mode? Second, an analytic and evaluative question: In what ways does Hope facilitate multimodal literacy? In what ways is there room for improvement?
This poster presentation was an initial stab at rhetorical analysis for emerging online genres as they interacted with social positioning. It discerns a possibility of examining interrelationships between image macros (i.e. memes) over time: the First World Problems meme is a way to confess the things we're not grateful enough for, but other memes rebut and synthesize this perspective with other possibilities for responding to the world. Link to full poster