Meet the 2015-2016 Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Fellows

Hosted by the Sweetland Center for Writing, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative (DRC) is an online, community webspace by and for scholars and teachers working in computers and writing and digital rhetoric, and a digital book series with the U-M Press.


This summer, the DRC welcomed its third cohort of graduate student Fellows! The program aims to recognize graduate students around the country currently working in digital rhetoric who want practical experience in online publishing and website development. Fellows are selected on a yearly basis by the editors and board of the DRC, and receive an annual stipend of $500 as well as recognition on the DRC website.

DRC Fellows commit to attending monthly online team meetings to plan projects that extend the DRC website and its contributions to the community of computers and writing. They work independently and collaboratively to complete two projects within the year of their term. Last year’s Fellows initiated the #DRCchats series, both on Twitter and Google Hangout, that bring together groups of researchers, teachers, and students around a particular theme for a real-time online conversation.

They also substantially developed the DRC Wiki and hosted the first-ever DRC Wiki Quest at the 2015 Computers and Writing Conference, a live, interactive game that offered participants prizes and a chance to level up each time they edited or added to the DRC Wiki. They also hosted blog carnivals – series of invited blog posts around a specific topic – on social justice-oriented gaming and the intersections of multilingualism and multimodality. Our new Fellows are continuing these initiatives, and expanding our audience, with the current DRC blog carnival on “Digital Writing in K-12 Communities”, as well as new Tool Review Tuesday posts and Webtexts of the Month.

Hosts and followers of the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative look forward to seeing how they will continue to build out the site between now and next August.

This year’s fellows are:

Cohn_Jenae-225x300Jenae Cohn is a PhD student in English, pursuing a designated emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition, at the University of California, Davis. She is currently researching the rhetoric of loss around the shift from print to digital culture, but she is also interested in hybrid and online learning and instructional design. Beyond serving as a fellow for the DRC, she serves a graduate writing fellow in UC Davis’ Writing Across the Curriculum program, manages the UC Davis undergraduate student blog, Aggie Voices, and blogs intermittently at

BrandyDeiterly-300x300Brandy Dieterle is a doctoral student in the Texts & Technology program at the University of Central Florida (UCF). At UCF, Brandy has been a graduate student tutor in the University Writing Center and has taught first-year composition courses. As a teacher, Brandy encourages students to think of writing and literacy as both self representation and identity forming. Her research is focused on identity and self representation, gender identity and representation, multimodality and new media, and digital rhetoric.

LeighMeredith-290x300Leigh Meredith is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching interests center around digital and technological rhetorics, identity discourses, and intersections between old and new media. Her dissertation project explores rhetorics of evidence and identification in U.S. public culture, and examines the role of digital writing and reading practices in reshaping ideas about and approaches to individual identity. As the Coordinator of Northwestern’s Public Speaking program and a Northwestern Searle Teaching Mentor, she is also committed to helping graduate students engage digital writing pedagogies across the curriculum, and specifically in communication as well as composition-specific courses. You can find more about her research and teaching online at

Miller1Paula Miller is an English PhD graduate fellow in Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy at The Ohio State University. Her research interests sit at the intersection of writing center studies and digital media studies, interests informed by over a decade of writing center work. In her free time, she enjoys writing music and playing with new technologies. You can find her full CV on her website

NathanRiggs-300x300Nathan Riggs is a doctoral student in the Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design program at Clemson University. His current research focuses on the convergence of simulation, cognitive science and new (and old) materialisms as they relate to Rhetoric and Communication. On the side, Nathan creates digital artifacts and serious games. You can find more information, as well as some of his work, at; the website is currently being redeveloped.

NeilSimpkins-300x300Neil Simpkins is a Ph.D. candidate in the Composition and Rhetoric program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He explores how disabled students experience college writing classrooms and how disability interacts with multimodal writing. He is also interested in technologies of surveillance and bureaucracy and how they affect rhetorics of identity. You can find more information about Neil at, and he also tweets at @neilfsimpkins.

DRC Publishes Its First Book!


The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Series, part of the Digital Culture Books imprint of the U-M Press, is delighted to announce the publication of our first book! Digital Samaritans, by Jim Ridolfo of the University of Kentucky, explores rhetorical delivery and cultural sovereignty in the digital humanities by way of a careful engagement with the small Samaritan community living in the West Bank and Israel and the circulation of its large diaspora of sacred manuscripts that the author helped to digitize in connection with a multi-sited digital humanities project. The book, available as a paperback and a free online text, also provides interactive digital artifacts, such as maps and videos. Stay tuned for other forthcoming DRC Books.

Word2: Writer to Writer 2015-16 Events

Last year, the second year of our collaboration with Literati Bookstore and WCBN, saw unprecedented audience numbers for interviews with Phoebe Gloeckner and Bruce Conforth This year, we’re hoping to welcome even more U-M and Ann Arbor community members into the series, as Literati’s upstairs café has created plenty of space, with delicious coffee and tea!

March 22nd, 2016, 6-7pm at Literati Bookstore and Live on WCBN: Professor Robin Queen, of U-M’s Department of Linguistics joins us as our winter guest. Her research lies at the intersections of language contact, language variation and sociocultural landscapes. She is increasingly curious about the place of cognition for these intersections. Her book Vox Popular: The Surprising Life of Language in the Media has recently been published with Wiley Blackwell.

We’ll be talking with Professor Queen about how she approaches writing, how she teaches writing in the classrooms, and her hopes and dreams for her students’ work. We hope you will join us at Literati, or via WCBN’s live streaming.

Audio recordings of previous Writer to Writer events are available on our website.

Faculty & Staff Awards

L to R: Carol Tell, Louis Cicciarelli, Paul Barron, Aaron Valdez, and Teri Ford

Louis Cicciarelli was named the Charles Baxter Collegiate Lecturer in recognition of his sustained record of excellence in teaching and service by the Office of the Provost .Awarded to a lecturer with an sustained record of outstanding teaching and service and a demonstrable impact on students’ lives, this is a rare honor, with no more than three awarded campus-wide in any given year. In addition to receiving the title of Collegiate Lecturer, Louis will have the opportunity to name his lectureship to honor a former U-M instructor.

Carol Tell received a 2015 Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education award. This award, formerly known as the Excellence in Education Award, recognizes faculty members who are exceptionally dedicated to the educational experiences of undergraduates, and who demonstrate this dedication through achievements and innovations in their own and others’ classrooms or academic programs.

Paul Barron received a 2015 BEN Prize for the Outstanding Teaching of Writing. The Ben Prize, funded by an endowment in honor of alum and English Advisory Board member Larry Kirshbaum, is awarded each year to two Lecturers who have achieved a high level of excellence in the teaching of writing.

Aaron Valdez received his 5 year staff service award.

Teri Ford was recognized for 30 years of service at U-M.

Meet the New Graduate Student Research Assistants

Photo_BenKeatingBenjamin Keating is a PhD student in U-M’s Joint Program in English and Education and a graduate student research assistant at the Sweetland Center for Writing. This is his third year at Sweetland, where he has worked on a range of projects. Much of his recent work has involved qualitative coding and analysis of interview transcripts for Sweetland’s studies of transfer student writing and a larger longitudinal study of undergraduate writing development at U-M. His own research interests include antiracist pedagogy, critical race and whiteness theory, language ideology, and discourse analysis. He has had two poems published recently: “Ports of Long Beach, CA” (in Green Mountains Review) and “Sickbed Lists” (in Juked).

Photo_AnnaKnutsonAnna Knutson is in her third year as a doctoral student in the Joint Program in English and Education, and her second year as a GSRA for Sweetland. With the Sweetland research team, Anna is currently maintaining and analyzing data for a longitudinal study of undergraduate student writing, and she has also contributed to data collection and analysis for ongoing research on transfer students’ experiences with writing. In her doctoral research, Anna is interested in exploring whether/how individuals transfer knowledge about literacy and rhetoric between academic and non-academic (extracurricular and professional) contexts.

Photo_RyanMcCartyRyan McCarty started his GSRA appointment with Sweetland in the summer of 2015, helping to code and analyze interviews to understand transfer students’ experiences with writing across institutions. He is currently analyzing interviews and writing samples in a large longitudinal study of the differences between Writing Minors and non-minors. As a second-year PhD student with the Joint Program in English and Education, Ryan is studying the diverse language practices used by students in their learning processes, employing insights from Translation Studies to discuss the insights that moving between different languages can have on learning.

Faculty Highlights

Photo_JulieBabcockJulie Babcock’s fiction, poetry, and reviews appeared or are forthcoming in Weave, The Collagist, Split Lip Magazine, Honey Pot: A Journal of Intersectional Feminism, and the anthology Feast. She presented “Who Are We in the Creative Writing Classroom: Interventions in the Craft vs. Context Fight” at the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference and is transforming the presentation into an article for New Theory.

Photo_PaulBarronPaul Barron is the interim director of LHSP for 2015-16. He received a 2015 BEN Prize for the Outstanding Teaching of Writing and is a 2015-17 Fellow of the UMS-Mellon Faculty Institute for Arts-Academic Integration. A column on the DWI co-authored with Louis Cicciarelli is forthcoming in WLN.



Scott Beal’s poems appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Four Way Review, The Collagist, Your Impossible Voice, Dunes Review, Third Wednesday, Sport Literate, San Pedro River Review, and FreezeRay. His chapbook manuscript, The Octopus, was a finalist for the Baltic Writing Residency Chapbook Contest.


Photo_LouisCicciarelliLouis Cicciarelli was named the Charles Baxter Collegiate Lecturer in recognition of his sustained record of excellence in teaching and service by the Office of the Provost.



Photo_THetzelT Hetzel participated in the LSA Institute for Diversity and Campus Climate in the spring 2015. This fall she received an Arts at Michigan’s Course Connections Grant with Scott Beal to bring their LHSP classes to Detroit to explore street art and the Heidelberg Project and to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Students exhibited their Detroit Street Art photo essays in the Bert’s Cafe and Study Lounge Gallery in Shapiro Library this November.


Photo_SimoneSessoloSimone Sessolo presented his ongoing research project, Self[ie] Awareness, at the conference Computers and Writing. He was able to use Sweetland and personal research funds to invite 2 former students who are also minors in writing, Amy Derene and Louise Fletke, to present with him on the use of selfies to practice character presentation. A digital exhibition on his research will be hosted in North Quad Space 2435 from November 30 to December 11, 2015. Simone participated in the LSA Institute for Diversity and Campus Climate last Spring. This year, Simone has taken the role of Assistant Director in charge of publishing and publicity for the Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. He has also been invited to serve for a 2 year term in the LSA IT Faculty Advisory Committee. The goal of the committee is to provide a mechanism and opportunity for faculty to provide direct input and guidance into shaping College-wide and University-wide IT direction. In November 2015, Simone was awarded a grant from the Lecturers’ Professional Development Fund for his work on Digital Education and Innovation.

Tell,CarolCarol Tell received a 2015 Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education award.



Meet the 2015 Summer Interns

For several years Sweetland has hired undergraduates enrolled in our Peer Writing Consultant program or our Minor in Writing as summer interns, and these students carry out a variety of projects that are helpful to the Center and give the interns valuable experience. Our interns this past summer were recent graduates Jamie Monville and Kaitlin Schuler. Both graduated in May 2015, Jamie with a B.A. in English and a minor in writing and Kaitlin with a B.A. in English and minors in writing and Judaic Studies. Jamie was also a Sweetland Peer Writing Consultant. Their key projects this summer focused on the Peer Writing Center (PWC) and the Minor in Writing (MiW).

Jamie Monville
Jamie Monville

For the PWC, Jamie and Kaitlin contacted multilingual students who had used Sweetland’s resources and set up video interviews to talk about their experiences with writing as a multilingual student. Using this footage, the two created three videos: one to promote the PWC to other multilingual students, one of advice from the interviewees to other multilingual students, and one from the interviewees to faculty members. These videos appear on the Sweetland website and will be used at the international student orientations, so that more students can learn about Sweetland’s services for multilingual students.

Kaitlin Schuler

For the MiW, Jamie and Kaitlin focused their energy on the language for the MiW webpage and on a promotional video for the Minor. The previous website language was quite formal and sounded more like an institutional document than something aimed at potential undergraduate Minors. The two reworked the language to appeal more to students and added an FAQ section. For the video, Jamie and Kaitlin contacted former and current Minors and set up video interviews, similar to the multilingual student video project. With the help of Sweetland Communications Coordinator Aaron Valdez, the interns created a promotional video for the MiW compiled from the experiences of their fellow Minors, in order to let potential applicants learn more about the program.

As they move on to the next chapters in their lives, Jamie and Kaitlin both attest that the internship experience has given them valuable experience, especially with shooting video and conducting interviews. These experiences will serve them well, regardless of where they go next. They also feel privileged to have had the opportunity to give back to a program that has given so much to them.

Fellows Seminar

The Fellows Seminar brings together Faculty (Senior Fellows) and graduate student instructors (Junior Fellows) from multiple disciplines who share a commitment to integrating writing in their courses. Fellows confer with local and national visiting speakers, learn ways of helping students become better writers, discuss concerns about teaching in the age of the internet, learn how to integrate writing in their courses, and examine approaches to incorporating writing across the disciplines. For more information visit the Senior Fellows or Junior Fellows pages on our website.

Senior Fellows (Faculty)

Julie Boland, Psychology
Paul Conway, School of Information
Petra Kuppers, Women’s Studies
Adam Simon, Program in the Environment
Karla Taylor, English Language and Literature
Jing Xia, Sweetland Center for Writing

Junior Fellows (Graduate Students)

Zac Garlets, Organic Chemistry
Ayse Neveser Koker, Political Science
Francesca Minonne, Romance Languages
Will Nediger, Linguistics
Elizabeth Nijdam, German Languages and Literature

More scenes from 2015