As a scholar in writing studies and composition, particularly pedagogy and program administration, teaching and research go hand in hand. This means that as a teacher, I am always conducting research. Whether planning lessons or designing resources, I am always evaluating, analyzing, and carefully considering the best practices for the development and growth of my students. To do this, I incorporate interdisciplinary approaches to writing and pedagogy that stretch beyond the purview of writing studies.
Currently, my work brings together perspectives on writing from media, feminist, and disability studies to explore the material, felt, verbal and nonverbal experiences of writing and teaching writing. I propose that the work we do as writers, and as teachers or tutors of writing, is not in isolation. Rather, it is an untold number of mediated experiences among bodies, both human and nonhuman.
My primary goal as a scholar is to continuously (re)examine our theoretical orientations to composition. To that extent, my secondary goals are to better understand how we encounter composition and craft as bodied people who use various media and material to communicate, express, and embody in particular sites of textual production.
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
- Zora Neale Hurston
My research interests suggest several issues associated with how these encounters might manifest: what might it mean to embody our writing? In what ways do we articulate the value of our bodies in composition? How do writers acknowledge their material and sensory experience with composition? What kinds of work are bodies doing in composition and craft? What kinds of bodies are privileged in the kinds of work composition calls for?
And how might pedagogical orientations to composition account for those emotive, material, and corporeal realities and processes of meaning-making in the field of writing and composition? With programs and scholars calling for more attention to the identities, performances, and subjectivities of writers, these questions have become more pressing.
The focus of my dissertation is how composition as a bodied, sensory, and emotive activity informs how we write as well as how we teach writing. Embodied composition seems to be a well accepted, and in some cases, common sense approach to writing for scholars and teachers. Yet the ability or hesitation to discuss how emotions, sensory conditions, and affect can influence our writing processes, even our pedagogy, hinders opportunities for revision. My goal is to thicken our understanding of writing as a sensory and affective process so that we might develop innovative teaching practices that prepare students for the ever-developing mediated scenarios they face.
My dissertation, “Teaching With Feeling: An Analysis of Embodied Pedagogies in a First-Year Writing Classroom,” reveals that academic spaces, like the classroom, are not spaces of the mind, but spaces of bodies, emotions, experiences, histories, identities, and literacies. I contend this idea in a number of projects, including my drafted manuscript, “Reading Aloud to Deaf Ears: How the Label Dis/Ability Disrupts The Writing Center” written for publication in The Writing Center Journal. My work conceptualizes bodies as who we are - a process of becoming - both mediating and mediated by our experiences and surroundings. This approach allows us to decenter, and simultaneously value our embodiment in academic contexts.
One result of my research into the embodied, sensory and affective nature of composition is a better understanding for how writers and teachers of writing engage with composition as a material experience, one that is entrenched in constant contact with surrounding bodies, whether human or nonhuman. This attention to the sensory and affective encounters of writers does hope to bring the concerns of the classroom as it is experienced to administration and scholarship.
After I finish my dissertation, I plan to study the ways in which writing center tutors conceptualize and perceive the affective nature of bodies in tutoring sessions, including how these affects impact their work as a tutor. Such research hopes to explore how bodies are a transformative and emotive power in tutoring writing.