From the Director

The Gayle Morris Sweetland Center for Writing was founded in 1998, and I was lucky to be the inaugural director. Expectations for the Center were high, for John Sweetland’s handsome endowment made it possible for us to introduce new programs to support and improve writing in LSA.

I am back in the director’s office this year and awed by how much has happened since the Center opened. The Peer Writing Consultant program has existed since the start of the Center, but it’s expanded and gained greater intellectual depth over the years. The peer consultants work with undergraduates from all over the U-M campus to communicate strategies that will improve their academic writing, job and graduate school application materials, and personal writing. MWrite fellows likewise support undergraduates as they learn to write for courses in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Another diverse and ambitious group of students pursues a Minor in Writing, for which they engage in research that culminates in complex multimodal projects. When I visit Sweetland consultants, fellows, and minors, I am overjoyed to see their enthusiasm about writing and commitment to their projects.

The Sweetland faculty who support and direct these programs are highly professional and profoundly accomplished in many directions. Some faculty members produce impressive creative publications, and all of the faculty contribute significantly to the scholarship of teaching and learning. As part of their work, they also consult individually with students at every level from across UM. When I observe their sessions, I’m struck by how quickly they discern what help the student is seeking, and I’m impressed with how much they accomplish in a half hour or hour. Sitting in my office, I’m delighted to hear the faculty greet each student with sincere interest in their writing. This is surely just about the best job in the world. I invite you to discover what’s happening here.

— Theresa Tinkle, Sweetland Center for Writing Interim Director

Anti-Racist Task Force

In January, Sweetland received a Faculty Communities for Inclusive Teaching (FCIT) grant from the Center for Research and Learning and Teaching (CRLT) to support the endeavors of our Anti-Racist Task Force to mindfully examine our pedagogy, practice, and curriculum in light of DEI issues. 

(L clockwise) Allie Piipo, April Conway, Louis Cicciarelli, T Hetzel, Scott Beal, Cat Cassel, Simone Sessolo, Christine Modey

What this looks like in practice is that the Task Force meets on a monthly basis to reflectively journal and discuss readings related to writing center work, particularly examining racist structures within institutions. We have read texts by Adrienne Marie Brown, Bell Hooks, Asao Inoue, Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Claude Steele, and more. These texts are usually paired with a reflection prompt that allows us to think through how racism and white supremacy emerge in the writing center and instructional work we do, and how we might respond to those emergences. For instance, when we read excerpts from Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race, we responded to a prompt about when and how we first became aware of our own racial identities. When we read excerpts from Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Matsuda and Cox’s “Reading an ESL Writer’s Text,” we journaled about how the texts resonated with experiences in our Writing Workshop and instructional work thus far in the semester. 

The FCIT grant will also support Sweetland faculty attendance at a 2.5-day workshop in February on analyzing systemic racism, held by ERRACE (Eliminating Racism and Creating/Celebrating Equity). 

Cat Cassel (L) & Naomi Silver (R). Click image or here for detail view of poster.

Faculty News & New Writing Workshop Coordinator


Raymond McDaniel

Raymond McDaniel was named Collegiate Lecturer for 2018-2019 in January of 2019. Collegiate Lecturer titles are awarded to faculty who demonstrate a sustained record of excellence in teaching and learning, or in service or other contributions to the university. Lecturers retain these titles throughout their careers at the university.


Julie Babcock

Julie’s poetry collection, Rules for Rearrangement, won the 2019 Kithara Book Prize and will be published next year by Glass Lyre Press. She also attended the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference where she had the opportunity to work on hybrid writing with Aimee Nezhukumatathil.

Cat Cassel

Cat Cassel went on the Michigan Road Scholars tour in May, and participated in the CRLT Inclusive Teaching Program for Lecturers. 

Shuwen Li

Shuwen Li published an article at the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, titled “Dwelling on Vlogging: A Case Study of Amaetur Technical Communicator.” Using a rhetorical cluster analysis, she presents a preliminary case study of a type of tactical technical communication—vlogging and elicited seven techniques that were projected in those videos to unpack how the vlogger constructed her ethos that ultimately advanced her status from an amateur technical communicator to a young entrepreneur.

Shelley Manis

Shelley Manis received a Summer Fellowship from the Institute for the Humanities to start her book on using theater techniques to teach writing.

Christine Modey

Christine Modey received a Summer Fellowship from the Institute for the Humanities to work on her project, an ethnographic study of preachers’ composing processes.

Simone Sessolo

Simone Sessolo was awarded two grants, one from the Office of Academic Innovation and one from the Office of the Provost, to develop The Graduate Coach, a messaging tool to aid graduate students in writing their dissertation. The Beta version of The Graduate Coach launched in the Fall 2019 semester and was developed by Sweetland faculty Simone Sessolo, Louis Cicciarelli, and Larissa Sano, with the help of Marisol Fila, a graduate student in RLL. In June, Simone also presented his research at the Computers and Writing conference in Lansing MI.

Naomi Silver

Naomi Silver received a Course Development grant from the University Musical Society to incorporate performances into her Writing 100: The Practice of Writing course. The class focused on the theme “Performing Citizenship,” and students saw productions of the Isango Ensemble performing A Man of Good Hope, about a Somali refugee migrating within the African continent, and Stew and the Negro Problem performing Notes of a Native Song, based on James Baldwin’s essay collection Notes of a Native Son about race in America.

New Faculty

Four new faculty members joined us for the fall semester.

April Conway

April was a Writer-in-Resident for the Conference on Community Writing in Philadelphia this October. Though in her third year teaching writing at the University of Michigan, this is her first term teaching writing workshop and The Practice of Writing. Across her writing classes, she teaches multimodal composing, the dynamics of language and power (especially regarding race), and writing research methods. She uses a labor contract as a means to assess writing from an anti-racist pedagogical standpoint.

Dina Karageorgos

Dina’s research and teaching interests include twentieth- and twenty-first century African-American and anticolonial literature, visual culture and theory, antiracist pedagogy, and community-engaged learning. She’s incorporated the decolonial strategy of “remixing” in her writing courses. She recently published the essay “Toni Morrison and the Black Radical Tradition” in Jacobin Magazine. Another essay will be coming out in The Cambridge History of the U.S. South:  “Reconsidering Du Bois’s ‘Central Text’: W.E.B. Du Bois, Sarah Wright, and the Problem of the Black Worker.” 

Allie Piippo

Allie Piippo has been teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages for the past 17 years. She has taught in the US, Japan, and Turkey, but she is delighted to be back at her alma mater this term! Allie attended the Michigan TESOL conference in Grand Rapids on November 1st and 2nd, where she presented with colleagues on a Diversity and Inclusion workshop for international students, and on a reading/writing collaboration for English Language Learners. She then flew to Milwaukee for the NAFSA Region V Conference November 4-6, where she presented on topics related to an online orientation for international students, a peer mentor volunteer program that she had started at Eastern Michigan University. She also presented with colleagues on alternative advising strategies for international students. 

Hannah Webster

In addition to teaching a section of Writing 100 at Sweetland, Hannah serves as Managing Editor at MQR, teaches poetry in Dearborn public schools with InsideOut Detroit Literary Arts, and helps organize with the Ypsi Gathering Space at Riverside Arts. This year she also facilitated a poetry workshop at the Room Project in Detroit entitled “The Impossible is Our Paradise” and had poems published in Stone Canoe, 32Poems, Fairy Tale Review Online, and No Tokens. 

New Writing Workshop Coordinator

Mahal Stevens earned her BA in Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, but took the leisurely route to her degree. She has attended every undergraduate institution in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti except for Concordia University. As a student she participated in various historical research projects, one of them being a Michigan In The World Fellowship where she studied some of the first Black women students at the University of Michigan.

When not working, Mahal is usually hanging out with her dog Simon, a miniature schnauzer mix.

Outside of being a dog mom, Mahal loves reality TV — for enjoyment and as a source of analysis. Her favorite shows are 90 Day Fiancé, Real Housewives of Atlanta, and the Flavor of Love (a classic). She also has a childhood fondness for murder mysteries such as Murder She Wrote, Matlock, and Diagnosis Murder.  In her free time she also dances, crafts, hangs out with her large family, and reads up on astrology.

Besides work related things, feel free to come to the front desk to chat with Mahal about: pets, reality TV, astrology, gender studies, history, or to celebrate Friday Eve.

Writer to Writer…to Writer to Writer? Sweetland Interview Series Spawns more Writing

We’ve been busy at Sweetland this year growing our Writer to Writer offerings, including continuing to host interviews between a Sweetland faculty member (Shelley Manis) and a prominent U-M faculty member and writer once a semester. These are held at Literati Bookstore in November and March, and are recorded for later broadcast on WCBN radio and podcast on Sweetland’s website. Last November we welcomed Pulitzer Prize winning historian Heather Ann Thompson. March’s guest was Associate Professor in the departments of Middle East Studies and History Ellen Muehlberger, whose interview coincided with the publication of her newest book, Moment of Reckoning: Imagined Death and Its Consequences in Late Ancient Christianity (Oxford).

You can listen to the audio of Heather Ann’s, Ellen’s, or other previous guests’ interviews here!

Shelley Manis (L) with Ellen Muehlberger (R)
Shelley Manis (L) with Heather Ann Thompson (R)

Meanwhile, the Minor in Writing students launched a Minor-led student literary journal and blog named after and associated with the series, Writer to Writer. These intrepid students dropped their “Zero Edition” e-journal in the Winter of 2018 and published their first print journal (also available online here) in the spring of 2019. The W2W executive board continues to build Writer to Writer’s visibility and engagement with rolling submissions for the ejournal and blog, and a second print edition in the works for spring. They’re also expanding their reach to host community events, such as a November “Writers’ Jam,” which created space for people to do prompted creative writing and share their work, and they’ve planned a writing workshop for January of 2020.

New Sweetland Initiatives in Dissertation Writing

This past year saw Sweetland increase its academic initiatives to aid graduate students as they write their dissertations. Sweetland has long offered a graduate course, Writing 630, that provides instructional support to graduate students writing in their discipline. Experience in the classroom revealed that, at times, a peer interaction between graduate students who were focusing on writing shorter pieces, like a conference presentation or an article for publication, and graduate students who were writing a dissertation chapter, were not the most advantageous, since the rhetorical conditions for the two enterprises were abundantly different. Therefore, Sweetland designed a novel course specifically answering the needs of dissertation writers: Writing 631, “Dissertation Writing.”

This course, while supporting doctoral candidates in completing one or more chapters of their dissertation, primarily aids students in gaining self-awareness as writers. The course engages doctoral students in planning, managing, and improving their writing process, as well as in solidifying practices that writers can apply to their future writing beyond the PhD. The format combines discussion meetings, peer-review sessions for effective revision, and reflective writing activities that prompt students to define what it means, in an academic setting of research and teaching, to be a writer.

Sweetland also received grants from The Office of Academic Innovation and The Office of the Provost to develop a digital messaging tool to assist graduate writers remotely: The Dissertation Coach. This tool takes advantage of an existing and successfully tested product in undergraduate education (ECoach), and reconfigures that platform to target graduate students in the dissertation writing phase. Following current practices in behavioral science, the Dissertation Coach aims at influencing positive writing behavior, especially when dissertation writers encounter challenges in productivity. The Dissertation Coach has been launched in its beta version during Fall 2019 as an addition to the interdisciplinary Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Groups. Sweetland faculty Louis Cicciarelli, Larissa Sano, and Simone Sessolo have developed the platform. They have been helped by Marisol Fila, a PhD student in Romance Languages and Literature.

The Peer Writing Center has moved to 2160 Shapiro!

After many years in the lower level of Angell Hall, the Sweetland Peer Writing Center has moved to the second floor of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.

The new space is the culmination of nearly two years of planning, supported by the work of a small committee of peer writing consultants, led by consultant Regina Chen ‘18, who focused her Minor in Writing capstone project on writing center design. Her work included research into effective learning space design, as well as surveys of writing center clients and focus groups with writing consultants about their needs and preferences for the space.

Accessibility was a key consideration in the space design, with adjustable-height tables and some quieter spaces where noise and light levels can be adjusted to meet students’ needs. There are a variety of seating options, and our handouts are within easy reach of students using a wheelchair. The center includes a reservable multimodal collaboration room for students working on digital group projects. After Sweetland consulting hours, the center remains open to provide additional study space.

We share the new space with the library Peer Information Consultants, who support students with research projects. It’s a logical collaboration, and one that will continue to grow, as our consultants get to know each other better.

Because of our new location in the library, our staff development focus this fall has been on campus collaborations. We’ve hosted presenters from the English Language Institute, the Trotter Multicultural Center, Services for Students with Disabilities, the Department of Public Safety, LSA Academic Advising, and Wolverine Wellness.

Also this fall, the Peer Writing Center opened a new satellite in the Trotter Multicultural Center on State Street. We’re excited to be part of the programming in that building and to learn more about cross-cultural communication from Trotter staff.

Math + Writing = Learning

Math + Writing = Learning. This is the premise of Sweetland’s current offering in the large-enrollment course Math 216 and is part of M-Write’s ongoing process of fostering writing-to-learn across disciplines and departments at U-M. 

What started in 2016 as an effort to pilot writing-to-learn assignments in a few undergraduate courses has evolved into a much larger initiative involving 14 faculty members and over 20,000 students. Sweetland continues to support faculty across campus in using writing as a means of learning and simultaneously trains and supports dozens of undergraduate Writing Fellows each semester who work with these faculty.

Winter 2019 M-Write Fellows (morning class)
Winter 2019 M-Write Fellows (afternoon class)

Beginning in Fall 2019, Sweetland expanded its support of writing-to-learn to include Math 216, Introduction to Differential Equations. This course already included writing assignments designed to help students explain mathematical concepts and make connections between computer labs and course work. What was missing, however, was an opportunity for students to engage in a writing process designed to reinforce learning. 

Sweetland worked with Gavin LaRose, the course coordinator of Math 216, to find ways to improve the writing process for some of these assignments. This collaboration produced modifications to the assignments to allow for feedback, peer review, and revision. The goal of these changes is to encourage students to generate a low-stakes draft, to receive feedback on it and respond to the drafts of others, and then to use this experience to revise their own drafts.

The changes to the assignments in Math 216 reflect the core principles of the M-Write Program. One of these is that student learning can be improved by writing in response to assignments that include several essential elements – a meaning-making task, an assignment with clear expectations, and an interactive writing component that includes interacting with peers through a feedback process. 

Sweetland will continue to expand the number and type of courses it supports in Winter 2020, as we help faculty adopt writing-to-learn approaches in Political Science and Kinesiology, two areas new to M-Write. Throughout this expansion, we continue to focus on understanding how writing-to-learn assignments affect student learning by conducting research that identifies and measures student outcomes. The long-term goal is to create a new U-M equation: all courses + writing = learning.

Meet the 2019-2020 Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Graduate Fellows & New Books

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. It is also the home of a digital book series with the U-M Press.  

This summer, the DRC welcomed its seventh 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 hosted robust blog carnivals on “Discerning Digital Rhetorics’ Futures” and “Multimodal Design and Social Advocacy”, as well as publishing five Webtexts of the Month reviews covering topics from teaching with Wikipedia, to a new online forum for young scholars, to a journal of undergraduate multimedia publications. In November, two of our fellows collaborated on an interactive video chronicling their experiences attending the annual Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition and curating a series of conference session reviews. Our new fellows have already jumped into the mix with a blog carnival on “Digital Community Building as Social Justice Praxis”, fresh off the (digital) press.

This year’s fellows are:

Dana Comi, University of Kansas

Dana Comi is a PhD student in the Rhetoric and Composition program at the University of Kansas, where she currently teaches first year composition and technical communication courses. Her research interests include Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS), human-centered design, and digital rhetoric. Currently, she researches neighborhoods that design their own Internet infrastructure as rhetorical access-building. You can follow her on Twitter at @cat_comi.

Wilfredo Flores, Michigan State University

Wilfredo Flores—or Wil—is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. His research deploys ideas from platform studies and cultural rhetorics and qualitative methods to examine how queer people talk about their sexual health on Twitter. You can read more at, and he tweets at @willflowers.

McKinley Green, University of Minnesota

McKinley Green (he/him/his pronouns) is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Scientific & Technical Communication at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches classes in technical and professional communication, first-year writing, and visual rhetoric. His interests are located at intersections of technology, rhetoric, and theories of social justice. You can learn more about his teaching and research at

Jialei Jiang, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Jialei Jiang is a PhD candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she also teaches first-year composition (FYC) and research writing courses. Her research interests include new materialist theories, digital composition, and public rhetoric. She is interested in exploring the intersection between multimodal pedagogy and public rhetoric advocacy. Jialei’s dissertation focuses on examining the material and affective design of multimodal campaigns in FYC classrooms.

Soyeon Lee, University of Houston

Soyeon Lee is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy in the English department at the University of Houston. Her research interests include transnational literacy studies, digital rhetoric, community engagement, and environmental risk communication. She has worked on representing the experiences and literate lives of flood-affected immigrants living in the Gulf of Mexico coastal cities in the aftermath of disasters.

Nupoor Ranade, North Carolina State University

Nupoor Ranade is a Ph.D. student in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media program at the North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on audience analysis, digital rhetoric, user experience and information design, primarily in the field of technical communication and artificial intelligence. Her research experience and partnerships with the industry help her bridge gaps of knowledge that she then brings to her pedagogical practices. She is interested in exploring interdisciplinary collaborative work which helps us redefine the term audience.

TWO NEW BOOKS from the Sweetland DRC Book Series

This winter, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Series, an imprint of the U-M Press, published two new books that move the study of digital writing and rhetoric forward in important ways.

Developing Writers in Higher Education: A Longitudinal Study, edited by Anne Ruggles Gere (University of Michigan), director of Sweetland 2008-2019, provides a comprehensive study of college students’ writerly development across their undergraduate years. Drawing on extensive qualitative and quantitative data gathered from 169 U-M undergraduate students over six years, Developing Writers traces the multiple paths taken by student writers as they learn to write for various purposes in multiple disciplines, leading them to new levels of competence in their academic and professional pursuits. The book has both a companion website that presents additional materials for a broad audience, and an online repository that makes the study’s data available to a research audience.

Rhetorical Code Studies: Discovering Arguments in and around Code by Kevin Brock (University of South Carolina) offers an exploration of software code as meaningful communication through which amateur and professional software developers construct arguments. His book considers examples ranging from large, well-known projects like Mozilla Firefox to small-scale programs like the “FizzBuzz” test common in many programming job interviews, and includes interactive components that allow readers to test out some of the book’s arguments for themselves. Rhetorical Code Studies is winner of the 2017 Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Book Prize.

Summer Interns

Sweetland interns Anna Vanderberg and Briana Johnson spent the summer refining databases and analytical materials for both the Minor in Writing and Peer Writing Consultant Program. The two focused for much of the three months on making a more accessible database for the Minor in Writing Capstone Portfolios and designing a system to categorize each student’s project. They also surveyed and analyzed other campus peer mentoring programs in order to improve the experience of Peer Writing Consultants. Additionally, Anna and Briana spoke to a total of 52 classes about Sweetland services as part of their outreach initiatives. The two gained experience in creating calendars and checklists through Google Sheets, and enjoyed connecting with faculty and students during the Spring and Summer terms.

For the Peer Writing Program, Anna and Briana analyzed the surveys and created a three-page report that included pay rates, hours worked, and training focuses, which then was shared with other peer-led tutoring facilities on campus. For the Minor in Writing, the main goals for the database were to understand what program resources are being utilized and what resources minors could be educated on more, and how confident minors seem to be in creating multimodal work. Towards the end of the summer, the two created a promotional video for the Peer Writing Center’s new space in Shapiro Library and an informational video about Sweetland’s services.

The two enjoyed their experiences during their time at Sweetland’s, even when they forgot to take out the trash and their entire office smelled like rotting chicken! Beyond their forgetfulness, Anna and Briana built off each other’s passion for work; they worked hard to meet project deadlines and were open to learning new skills when it came to spreadsheets, graphing data, and video editing software. The two hope to take their new-found skills into their post-grad careers.

2019 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 into 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. Listen to our Topics in Writing podcast featuring Fellows Seminar visiting speakers.

2019 Senior Fellows (Faculty)

Michelle Bellino, School of Education
Anne Gere, Sweetland Center for Writing
Despina Margomenou, Classical Studies
Raymond McDaniel, Sweetland Center for Writing
George Tyler, Political Science

2019 Junior Fellows (Graduate Students)

Katherine Beydler, Classical Studies
Katherine Hummel, English Language and Literature
Vincent Longo, Screen Arts and Cultures
Aleksandra Marciniak, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Elizabeth McNeill, Germanic Languages and Literatures
Kamaria Porter, School of Education
Emily Saidel, Communication Studies

Writing Prize Winners

Sweetland’s prizes for outstanding writing in First-Year and Upper-Level Writing Requirement courses consists of a monetary award along with their work published in a series that collects the prize-winning writing in two volumes, Excellence in First-Year Writing and Excellence in Upper-Level Writing. Writing Prize winners were recognized at a ceremony in April 2019.

Excellence in First-Year Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing book
Download the PDF | Amazon purchase link

First-Year Writing Prizes

Matt Kelley Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing

Kate Glad, “Chuck Too Close”
nominated by Duygu Ergun, CL122 

Aditya Ravi, “Lunchtime Epiphanies”
nominated by Genta Nishku, CL122

Excellence in Multilingual Writing

Xuanwen Huang, “Toyota Camry in China and the US: Same Name, Different Cars”
nominated by Scott Beal, WRITING 120

Zhiyao Zhang, “How Consuming Transgenic Food Would Affect Human Immune Systems?”
nominated by Shuwen Li, WRITING 120

Excellence in the Practice of Writing

Michelle Karls, “How to Succeed in Writing 100 Without Really Trying (Disclaimer: You Should Actually Try)”
nominated by Stephanie Moody, WRITING 100

Anonymous, “Who I Am and Who I Want to Be Cannot Connect” 
nominated by Gina Brandolino, WRITING 100

Upper-Level Writing Prizes

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Social Sciences)

Samantha Goldstein, “Best Strategies to Increase Public Support for a Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages” 
nominated by Aloka Narayanan, PolSci 381 

Henry Schnaidt, “Colonialism and Environmental Discrimination in the Asia-Pacific: The US military in Guam and Okinawa”
nominated by Omolade Adunbi, AAS322/Environ 335

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Sciences)

Tim Arvan, “Climate Change Exacerbates Invasive Species Pressures on Michigan Prairies” 
nominated by Abby Potts, EEB372

Elizabeth Stanley, “Current research on exoplanets and the search for habitable worlds”
nominated by Jimmy Brancho, Writing 400

Excellence in Upper-Level Writing (Humanities)

Verity Sturm, “Tinker, Tailor, Author, Masochist: The Ishiguro Novel as a Field Experiment in Pain”
nominated by Andrea Zemgulys, English 398 

Kelly Wester, “Bitchin’ About the Kitchen:  An Intersectional Review of Gender, Race, and Class in the Restaurant Industry”
nominated by Supriya Nair, English 407

Updated Multilingual Writing Curriculum

Based on recent research, Sweetland has updated its multilingual writing curriculum.

Between April and May 2018, Sweetland faculty members Shuwen Li and Naomi Silver, and Joint Program in English and Education graduate student Ryan McCarty conducted a survey of 245 undergraduate international students and ran five focus group interviews to uncover students’ current needs for writing courses at Sweetland. Our data reveal a large number of international students majoring in STEM and a widespread interest in professional and technical writing and communication.

In Fall 2018, Sweetland updated the multilingual writing curriculum by revising WRITING 240: Professional and Technical Presentation for International and Multilingual Students and WRITING 340: Professional and Technical Writing and Communication in International Contexts. WRITING 240 focuses on presentation and writing skills to prepare international and multilingual students for effective delivery of complex information to experts and lay audiences in international contexts. WRITING 340 is designed for all students who will write and communicate professionally in international contexts, where different cultures interact. This course also aims to bring native and non-native speakers together to work on multicultural teams.

The updated WRITING 240 was launched in Fall 2019, and Sweetland welcomes students who are interested in taking WRITING 340 in Winter 2020.

Additionally, in Summer 2019 Shuwen Li, Naomi Silver, and Ryan McCarty gave a panel presentation titled “Balancing Acts: Creating Inclusive Curriculum for Multilingual and International Students at a Large R1 Institution” at the Council for Writing Program Administrators Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Their panel shared the research findings, and offered attendees Sweetland’s approach to better understanding international students’ choices in writing course enrollment. The presentation provided implications for teachers and administrators considering how to restructure courses to more inclusively meet student goals.  

WRITING 405: Contemporary Topics and Multidisciplinary Writing

Sweetland’s newest course, Writing 405, began as a conversation about how to develop further one of Sweetland’s areas of strength: understanding writing in and across academic disciplines. While there are many courses that offer the opportunity to focus on one discipline at a time, there were no courses that gave students the chance to place different forms of academic writing in conversation with one another. How can our understanding of disciplinary writing reveal how academic disciplines think, pose questions, and build knowledge? A working group comprised of Sweetland faculty members Anne Gere, Shuwen Li, Raymond McDaniel, Dana Nichols, and Carol Tell formed in summer 2017 to address this gap in our curriculum.

Writing 405 uses a different approach than other writing in the disciplines courses. Rather than situating the class in a particular academic department, this course is housed in Sweetland to focus on the connections between writing and developing academic knowledge. The class focuses on one contemporary topic, and examines that topic across the genres, conventions, and styles of different academic disciplines. Students build a subtle understanding of how those disciplines create knowledge through their approach to the topic, the questions they pose, and the constraints of what discrete disciplines can learn on their own.

Raymond McDaniel debuted the course in winter 2019 using the theme “Climate, Crisis, and Interdisciplinarity.” The class drew students from across LSA, including many from STEM disciplines, who were invested in the issue and eager for the opportunity to explore climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Dana Nichols is offering Writing 405 for the second time in winter 2020 with the theme “’White Trash’ and Rural America,” which examines how disciplines have imagined and constructed this American group as an economic, political, public health, and social problem. Writing 405 has been a welcome addition to Sweetland’s slate of courses, and we look forward to future offerings that encourage students to conceptualize the complexities and nuances of some of our thorniest contemporary problems.

Minor in Writing Alumni Updates

Thanks to our Writing Minor alumni who responded this summer to yet another Sweetland email. We appreciate you keeping in touch and hearing all of the wonderful things you are up to.

To submit an alumni update and view updates from previous years visit the Alumni section of our website.

Jordan Boeve • Psychology 2013
I went to Wayne State and got my PhD in developmental psychology in 2018. Completed a postdoctoral fellowship at U of M Flint, working with young children who were affected by the water crisis. Just got married and moved to Sacramento, where I am a lecturer at UC Davis (Contemporary American Families) and my husband is a neurology resident.

Katie Brown • Movement Science 2013
I’m halfway through the Physician Assistant program at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Zachary Bucholtz • Screenwriting 2013
Recently, I made the decision to quit my “day job” to focus full-time on running my own business, FourFour Pictures. We do wedding videos, commercials, and drone photography. Before that, I was the Screenwriter and Editor of the documentary film Just Getting By, about the post-recession economy, and have produced a handful of short films. I live in the city of Detroit and LOVE being part of its revival.

Jen Durow • History 2013
I completed an MS degree in Survey Methodology at University of Michigan in 2016 and currently work as a survey methodologist at the American Institutes for Research. I use the skills learned in the Minor for grant writing, and to communicate technical findings to nontechnical audiences.

Alexandra Olkowski • Political Science 2013
In 2016 I graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law, and now I am an attorney, living in Chicago.

Hanny Tasker • History 2013
I am in my second year of a tailored Master’s degree program in Information Studies at the University of Michigan. I apply design-thinking to online learning environments. In my spare time I write for the web and knit ambitious sweaters.

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