My research areas include Rhetoric and Composition, specifically rhetorical genre theory, writing curriculum design and pedagogy, as well as life-writing, especially contemporary American memoir, autobiography, and biography. A new area of interest is the role of memoir in the medical humanities. My latest book, Contemporary American Memoirs in Action: How to Do Things with Memoir (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) explains the meteoric rise of memoir—not as a sensationalist fad—but rather as an avenue for people to participate in public life. Memoirs accomplish political, social, and economic actions in public and on behalf of various public constituencies. Using rhetorical genre theory, I establish the link between memoir as a genre and social action or agency. As structures, genres mediate between cultural contexts or situations and people’s efforts. Genres reflect ideological and cultural orientations of the groups and individuals who use them. Most critically, genres provide roles for speakers to occupy and so are empowering.
In rhetoric and composition, my work continues to focus on genre, especially as it relates to Writing-in-the Disciplines (WID) design and composition pedagogy. I am co-PI (with Jordynn Jack) for “The Genre Project: A Framework for Transfer across the Disciplines, 2014-2016.” This long-term research project, sponsored by a 2013-2014 CCCC Research Initiative Grant, investigates what genres are being assigned by faculty in disciplinary courses and whether genres taught in first-year writing transfer to other courses. My publications represent my interests in both literary and rhetorical studies, and I have published in journals such as College Composition and Communication but also in Life Writing.
From 2009-2013, I was honored to be the Richard Grant Hiskey Distinguished Professor of Research and Undergraduate Teaching. I was selected as an Institute for the Arts and Humanities Chapman Faculty Fellow twice (1998; 2006) and became an IAH Leadership Faculty Fellow in 2008. I have received several teaching awards including the J. Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award (2000; 2014) and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction (2018).
In terms of leadership, I served for many years as the Writing Program Director where I implemented a new FYC required course emphasizing undergraduate research and genre-based assignments. Currently, I am the Writing-in-the-Disciplines Program Director and the Associate Director of the Writing Program.
1987, PhD Language and Literacy, University of California–Berkeley
1978, MA Language and Literacy, University of California–Berkeley
1974, BS Education, Rhode Island College (Providence, R.I.)
- Contemporary American Memoirs in Action: How to Do Things with Memoir. (Palgrave Macmillan Press, American Literature Readings in the 21st Century, 2017).
- “Designs for Writing: A Metacognitive Strategy for Iterative Drafting and Revising.” With E. Ashley Hall and Jennifer Ware. In Using Reflection and Metacognition to Improve Student Learning. Eds. Matthew Kaplan et al. (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2013).
- “Double-Voiced Autobiographies.” Life Writing 9.3 (August 2012).
- “A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching.” With Peter Elbow. College Composition and Communication 61.2 (December 2009).
- “Personal Genres, Public Voices.” College Composition and Communication 59.3 (February 2008).
- Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, 2018
- Faculty Mentoring Award. DOECL Graduate Student Association, 2017
- J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2014
- The Richard Grant Hiskey Distinguished Term Professor of Research and Undergraduate Education, 2009-2013
- Faculty Mentoring Award. DOECL Graduate Student Association, 2008
- J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2000
- Chapman Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, UNC, 2006
- Chapman Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, UNC, 1998
- PI for 2013-2014 CCCC Research Initiative Grant to support research on genres being assigned in first-year writing and in undergraduate courses in all disciplines. “The Genre Project: A Framework for Transfer across the Disciplines.” With Professor Jordynn Jack, co-PI.
- PI for 2008-2011 Spencer-Teagle Foundations Grant for Improvement of Undergraduate Education at Research Universities—emphasis on writing and research, 3 yr. funding cycle. With Professor Pat Pukkila, Director, Office for Undergraduate Research, UNC Chapel Hill.