Recent Graduate Courses

Storytelling as Rhetorical Method, Process, & Product (fall 2019, fall 2022, spring 2024)

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live... We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers [or researchers or interpreters], by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.” (Joan Didion, The White Album, p. 11)


As Didion reflects, stories we tell ourselves form the foundations of our identities as well as the gravities that pull us together into communities. Yet the process of taking individual stories and turning them into cohesive narratives is fallible and fraught. Imposing a central narrative, theme, or structure necessarily oversimplifies the “shifting phantasmagoria” of real life. Narratives create centers and margins, writing into the world those who belong and those who are estranged.


This course is all about stories, and our primary goal is to develop our vocabulary and skills for working with stories as researchers, teachers, and humans. To achieve this goal, we’ll explore theories about what stories and counterstories are and how they work. We'll also practice two different kinds of story work: (1) narrative thematic analysis where we use stories as a means of qualitative knowledge making, and (2) oral histories, in which participants honor us with the gift of their stories and reflections. For the latter, we'll practice gathering stories via different innovative field methods, including storytelling inspired by material culture, walking interviews about rural or built places, and photo essays telling a particular visual story of space. We'll also discuss ways that writers and content creators represent stories. Questions of ethics will be threaded throughout the semester topics and projects.

No previous experience in the formal study of rhetoric or in the formal study of qualitative methods is required.

Rhetorics of Public Memory (spring 2020)

Memory is “the soil in which desires, fears, predictions, and projects [of the future] take root” (Paul Ricoeur). From establishing a literary canon to motivating our daily decisions, the persistence of memory for individuals, collectives, and cultures is undeniable. As French philosopher Pierre Nora writes, “Memory is life…in permanent evolution…” which also makes it “vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation, susceptible to being long dormant and periodically revived.”


This course will explore lieux de mémoire—places and spaces—where memory is constructed. We’ll begin by surveying foundational work defining memory in all its forms, spiraling in to focus on public memory in particular. Sites of public memory are communal spaces where a feeling of the “then-that-is-now” reconnects us to a shared history, even as it invites us to re-evaluate our mutual present and to (re)imagine our potential futures. Next, we’ll turn to considering how shared public memories are rhetorical constructions, designed to (often) perpetuate a culture’s master narratives and/or to (sometimes) introduce counternarratives of resistance and transformation. After learning and applying methods of rhetorical criticism to analyze sites of public memory, we’ll end the course with the (equally rhetorical) process of creating sites of public memory. Therefore, this course will examine public memory as a concept, a product, and a process.

Qualitative Methods: Embodied Knowledge (fall 2020)

"Research" is the gathering and analysis of data to generate knowledge. In English studies, research takes many forms, including literary criticism, rhetorical analysis, historical study, and deconstruction via critical theory. During fall 2020, we'll study embodied knowledge making that goes beyond these typical methods. Our class will provide an introduction to the basic features and tools of qualitative research with human participants but will concentrate on three specific applications: the study of culture/community (ethnography) via place-making methods; the study of personal experience (phenomenology) with an emphasis on rhythm and silence; and the study of material culture through visual inquiry.


We'll complete one micro-project to practice designing, conducting, and representing research, and we'll reflect over the always-messy nature of knowledge making. Our final project will be a research proposal that can be submitted to UW's Institutional Review Board if you want to pursue a qualitative project for your thesis.

Rhetoric and Civic Discourse (spring 2018, spring 2022)

Our current political climate—marked by apparently sharp divisions and further complicated by social networks, a proliferation of rapid and varied “news” sources, and debate over what counts as “truth”—seems to more often shut down rather than open up avenues for meaningful discussion. How can we discuss issues with political, economic, environmental, cultural, social, and other implications in productive ways? How do we (re)build community amid what is presented as insurmountable difference? And how can we, as students and citizens, find our own agency in a broad climate of uncertainty? The purpose of this class is to explore rhetorical strategies for “civil dialogue” within particular community contexts to identify macro and micro strategies that community members use to navigate sensitive discussions and shape community norms. In addition to reading theories and analyses, students will research and develop their own rhetoric-based guidelines for effective engagement in civil dialogue and then will reflect over how particular community contextualization shapes those principles.

Recent Undergraduate Courses

Senior Capstone: Rhetorics of Public Memory (spring 2023)

Our senior capstone is a convergence of key skills  as students put into action what they've learned regarding theory, methodology, method, analysis, and writing for a variety of audiences. Students prepare their own research notebooks, which track their readings, primary research, and analysis over the semester. Two projects require thinking about memory in different ways:

The FDP simulates the rhetoric of public memory from the creative perspective—looking forward and imagining how memory is enacted as material culture. Looking forward in the FDP balances with the looking back of the research-driven analytical PMP project.

This is a COM3 class, so it requires successful completion of COM1 and a COM2. 

As a capstone, this is recommended for students in their final year of the program. 

Senior Capstone: Stories, Narratives, Lifeworlds (fall 2021)

Stories create who we are as individuals as well as communities. This course is all about everyday stories told by everyday people, with a focus on how stories function  as rhetorical devices and flows. We’ll explore theories about what stories are and how they work to create our shared lifeworlds, we’ll practice methods of gathering stories via primary research, and we’ll consider the processes and challenges of gathering stories into unified (and perhaps artificial) narratives.


This senior seminar applies to both English major concentrations. For English Studies: It will extend your knowledge of rhetoric in a  particular applied way. It will develop your understanding of why narrative writing is important in  bridging differences, why it is key in successful professional writing, and how stories function as arguments. For Literary Studies: It will explore how stories create empathy for readers, how the literary arts are intertwined with community identities and politics, and why we need literature now more than ever.   

Stories of all kinds—from canonical and published to informal and mundane, from fiction to non-fiction, and of all genres—are  the forces that pull us together (and sometimes push us apart). Our semester together will engage with stories and narratives as such powerful sources. 

This is a COM3 class, so it requires successful completion of COM1 and a COM2. 

As a capstone, this is recommended for students in their final year of the program. 

Approaches to Rhetoric, Composition Pedagogy, and Professional Writing (fall 2021, fall 2022)

Our section will focus on different ways of making knowledge in the broad discipline of writing studies, sampling methods from a variety of perspectives. We'll begin with a general introduction to "research" and its relation to theory, then we'll dig in to try three particular applications. Inspired by the study of rhetoric, we'll practice Burkean textual criticism, analyzing how persuasive powers flow among agents, acts, agency, scene, and purpose. Next, we'll try out narrative methods which are often engaged in the study of composition and literacy. Finally, we'll learn about a form of inquiry used in technical communication: user experience studies. This class will include hands-on practice as well as analysis of how data turns into knowledge (in other words, interpretive methods and writing styles). Students will complete the class with a solid introduction to methods, concepts, and theory emphasized across the discipline of writing studies, and will be prepared to design a thoughtful, well-crafted multimodal project. 

This course is a requirement for English majors on the writing studies track. Requires previous completion of ENGL 2025 and junior standing.

Survey in Rhetoric & Writing: "Voice" over 2,500 Years (spring 2023

"Voice" as an aspect of rhetoric emerges through "delivery" in the standard canons of Western rhetoric (Greek hypocrisis, Latin actio). Interweaving with arrangement and stylistics as a means of presenting oneself, voice makes a speaker visible, audible, and recognizable. Voice generates ethos, enhances pathos, and advances logos. Bringing new voices to the proverbial table can be an act of inventio. It can also be an act of resistance. In this sophmore-level survey course, students will be introduced to rhetoric as a dynamic discipline as we trace notions of voice across millennia. We begin with writings about speaker, voice, and delivery from foundational ancient Chinese, Indian, Greek, and Latin perspectives then travel through time to conclude with our most contemporary scholars' work, including Gloria Anzuldua, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Vershaun Ashante Young, Asao Inoue, and Aja Martinez. Through this movement, we will also take up other key ideas from the study of rhetoric--such as listening, silence, and gaze--as they relate to voice. 

The first iteration of our timeline is now live

Culture, Communication, and the Workplace (spring 2019, spring 2020)

Organizations—everything from student RSOs at UW to small Mom-and-Pop stores to huge multinational corporations like GM or Apple—have their own cultures. With those organizations are individuals who also bring their own (cultural) identities to the workplace. The combination of organizational cultures and individual identities make workplaces very complex sites of communication. This class will help you learn to understand communication as shaped by identity and culture. We’ll reflect over our own personal identities as what we (as individuals) bring to any communication and collaboration situation. We’ll also observe groups interacting to understand how different identities, communication styles, and conflict/negotiation habits shape the ways those groups function. Taking this class will help you to be more aware about the diversity of cultures around you and to develop strategies for being a thoughtful, productive person (and stronger communicator) in any group situation. 

This is a COM3 class, so it requires successful completion of COM1 and a COM2.

Writing in Technology and the Sciences (spring 2018, fall 2022) 

Throughout the entire engineering design process--from identifying problems and needs, to prototyping and testing, to deployment and review--is tied to communication. Because engineers and other folks in STEM disciplines frequently work in teams, solid skills in speaking, writing, and daily communications will mean the difference between a project that succeeds on time and one that struggles, falls behind, and may even fail. This class is focused on a semester-long project requiring a proposal, a team review, a progress report, a final report, and a final poster presentation, with students working in teams throughout. We'll focus on developing your writing and presentation skills, and we'll focus on being a productive and ethical team member. This is a COM2 class, so the pre-requisite is College Composition and Rhetoric.

College Composition and Rhetoric (Special Suffrage Edition) (fall 2018)

Did you know that Wyoming was the first state in the USA to grant women the right to vote? In fact, Wyoming claims to be the first place “in the world” where a woman voted in a general election. Next year (2019) marks the 150th anniversary of Wyoming women being granted the right to go to the polls, and this class celebrates that milestone while further exploring issues of “civic discourse” and writing about issues that affect our communities. Don’t worry—this course still meets all the requirements of English 1010 and, in fact, completes the same assignments that your peers will be completing in other sections. However, our class will also be special in that we will spend the first section of the course playing a game called “Greenwich Village 1913.” Through playing this game, we’ll learn about what it means to write or speak from a specific rhetorical “position”—something you’ve actually already been doing your whole life. After the game, we’ll proceed on to the other 1010 assignments, which you may (or may not) use to keep thinking about civic discourse, who has (or doesn’t have) the power to speak, and/or how communities work.

As the COM1 class at UW, this course does not have any pre-requisites.