B.A., University of Illinois (Urbana); M.A., University of Iowa; Ph.D., University of Massachusetts (Amherst)
Senior Lecturer in the Writing Program
Interests: language, writing, media, film. How students learn to write; how writing differs across settings; electronic discourse.
My training is in linguistic theory, rhetorical theory, and the teaching of writing; my primary interests are in the ways people use language and image to influence others, to make knowledge, and to change the world. At Wellesley, I directed the first-year writing program for 17 years (1992-2009) and currently co-direct the Cinema and Media Studies Program (with Professor Maurizio Viano).
My primary research interests are media-related (hence, my dual roles in Writing and CAMS). Since 1994, I’ve investigated how people present themselves and argue in online settings, and how language and discourse change across media forms. Most recently, my focus has shifted from “the human” to “the animal”: in domains that we have long defined as uniquely human (language and media), why do we rely so strongly on the figure of the animal to express our human enterprises and emotions?
My great love is teaching; it is through helping students become better writers that I feel I can do truly useful work in the world. In Wellesley’s first-year, interdisciplinary Writing Program, I teach courses built around topics in film: the films of Alfred Hitchcock; the Political Documentary; the maternal in film. I also teach courses on political rhetoric, both in the Writing Program and occasionally in the Peace and Justice Studies program.