Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Graduate Fellows & Our Upcoming 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 fall, the DRC welcomes its ninth 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 stiped 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 scholars interested in computers and writing. They work independently and collaboratively to complete two projects within the year of their term.

Last year’s fellows continued to work with creativity and passion during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they created innovative materials that include, among others, a syllabus repository and a DRC podcast. The Sweetland DRC Syllabus Repository is a public, crowd-sourced collection of syllabi of courses taught by DRC contributors. The podcast honors the spirit of the proclamation that “Black Lives Matter.” The podcast, titled The Sonic Renaissance, is an evolving conversation of black rhetorical space that foregrounds the work of music, sound, and life in the digital space of audio.

Keep your eyes open for upcoming collaborative projects from our new fellows, including a blog carnival focused around new and emerging perspectives on social media and writing studies, and an addition/expansion to the syllabus repository.

The 2021-2022 fellows are:

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan, where she also teaches in the English Department Writing Program. Her research interests include digital rhetoric, gender and discourse, and gaming studies. Her dissertation project explores how women use multimodal discourse—grammatically, narratively, and visually—to navigate online gaming ecologies.

Laura Menard is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at Bowling Green State University. Her research focuses on various forms of media rhetoric and its weaponization against women, particularly marginalized women in serial killer cases. She is also interested in racist rhetoric in local laws and court rules, and feminist rhetoric in popular culture. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @LauraLeigh425 or her blog at

Laken Brooks (she/her) is a PhD English student and a freelance writer. She researches medical humanities, digital humanities, and folklore. Brooks is particularly interested in studying how rural people, like Appalachians, use different technologies to tell better stories, have a better relationship with their bodies, and live better lives. Her work constellates several fields: disability studies, cultural rhetorics, and gender/sexuality studies. When she’s not teaching, Brooks writes about healthcare (in)accessability, LGBTQ+ and women’s history, wellness, and lifestyle topics for major outlets like CNN, the Washington Post, and Forbes.

Jennifer Burke Reifman is a 4th year Education Ph.D. student at U.C. Davis with an emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Her research focuses on technology in the writing classroom, writing program administration, and student identity and agency. When she isn’t being a graduate student and writing teacher, she spends most of her time playing with her 2-year old son, tending her backyard garden, or diving into a video game.

Laura McCann is a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon University working within the rhetoric of health and medicine, technical communication, and digital rhetorics. Her dissertation project analyzes the intersection of technical and feelings discourses within stories about infertility shared online, and how these patient accounts place viscerality as the central experience within infertility. She teaches professional and technical communication, first-year writing, and has worked closely with graduate students across disciplines to improve their communication skills.

Courtney A. Mauck is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Ohio University. Her research interests include digital rhetorics, social media, multimodal composition, game studies, and writing program administration. Her dissertation project explores the composing habits of first-year writers on Snapchat in order to better understand how instructors can promote critical digital literacies using mobile/multimodal platforms. You can follow her on Twitter at @courtneyamauck.

Forthcoming Digital Rhetoric Collaborative Books

This past year the Digital Collaborative Book series, an imprint of the University of Michigan Press, saw a new book project go into production: Erika Sparby’s Memetic Rhetorics. The project untangles some of the complexities of memes by determining how memes function rhetorically in our society, examining rhetorical and ethical considerations, highlighting how memes fuel cultural ideology, and finding ways to reveal and reject uncritical memetic behavior. The book presents a rhetorical toolkit for meming that goes beyond the core digital and rhetorical characteristics that give a meme a chance to thrive in the meme pool. In addition, Sparby offers key considerations and suggestions for how memers can meme ethically.