As a scholar in rhetoric and composition with a focus on multilingual and digital literacies, my scholarship, my teaching, and my service are deeply interwoven. This situation is not unusual in my field, as called out in the “Scholarship in Rhetoric, Writing, and Composition: Guidelines for Faculty, Deans, and Chairs” position statement published by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC):
The boundaries between scholarship, teaching, and service are quite porous for faculty members working in rhetoric, writing, and composition. This is because much of what we study is about pedagogy and practice: how writing is taught and learned in courses, programs, and extracurricular sites.
In my case, the four major strands of my scholarship and teaching all stem from abiding interest in multilingual literacies and the ways in which students with home or heritage languages and dialects other than “standard” English are welcomed or not welcomed (intentionally or unintentionally) into the academy and in college-level writing classrooms. This focus, combined with my early and enthusiastic adoption of digital composing tools and my affinity for international collaboration, has guided my sustained inquiry and scholarly projects related to:
- Multilingual literacies and the evolving conversation around translingual literacies in both theory and pedagogical practice;
- Knowledge-making in international, online writing classrooms, in particular for student writers identified by institutions as “at-risk” in some way;
- Affordances of digital technologies for writers in general and for multilingual writers in particular;
- Ethnographic research methods in college-level writing classrooms.
The publication of my chapter “Ludic is the New Phatic: Making Connections in Global, Internet-mediated Learning Environments” in Thinking Locally, Composing Globally edited by Rich Rice and Kirk St. Amant signals another major achievement in my post-tenure scholarly trajectory. The chapter presents an analysis of student discussion board activity for Sharing Cultures, a large-scale, online, international collaboration that connected students at Columbia College Chicago with students in Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch, South Africa, and, in later years, Volgograd, Russia in a shared discussion board space every northern-hemisphere spring semester from 2003-2011. In addition to the book chapter, my presentations on this research have led to invitations to give two plenary talks, one at the Midwest Conference on Literature, Language, and Media at Northern Illinois University in 2014 and one at the International Changing Communication in a Changing World Linguistics and Intercultural Communication Conference hosted at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Volgograd, Russia in 2015. While my increased administrative responsibilities certainly occupy a considerable amount of my time, I am looking forward to extending this work into my next scholarly project as a single-author monograph.
My teaching and scholarship have intersected in other important and impactful ways. While teaching Writing and Rhetoric I, I designed literacy narrative assignments using the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) as a platform for students to analyze and submit print and multimodal literacy narratives to the archive. As a result of that work, my assignment sequence is now shared on the DALN Teaching Resources site and several of my student’s multimodal literacy narratives are featured as multilingual student samples (Sky Wang, Viral Patel, Sofia Gomez, Keunho Shin). My work with the DALN and my research on my students composing processes deepened my interest in the interconnections between multilingual and multimodal writing and resulted in publication of “Multilingual Literacy Landscapes” co-authored with Alanna Frost and published in Stories that Speak to Us, edited by Scott Lloyd Dewitt, Cindy Selfe, & H. Lewis Ulman.
My scholarship in all of these areas has evolved over time from conference papers and presentations into published work. The most recent significant accomplishments are two co-edited collections about “translingual” literacies. Translingual Dispositions: Globalized Approaches to the Teaching of Writing, published by the WAC Clearinghouse/University Press of Colorado in 2020, focuses on international, classroom-based research on translingual writing pedagogies. Translingual Pedagogical Perspectives: Engaging Domestic and International Students in the Composition Classroom, published by Utah State University Press in 2021, explores effective pedagogies for multilingual writers in US-based, college writing classrooms. Both volumes seek to fill a gap in current and evolving conversations in writing studies and applied linguistics around language use as social and situational practice. Chapter authors include established voices in the field as well as newer scholars.
Finally, early in my career and as Director of the English as an Additional Language (EAL) program, I was committed to creating a sequence of writing courses and learning experiences for international students that could effectively bridge typical “ESL” writing instruction outcomes and the very different expectations of the college writing classroom. I had success with several assignments using ethnographic research methods and was encouraged by my students’ enhanced understanding of research processes, their engagement with what they were writing, and the quality of their writing. I partnered with Ames Hawkins to co-author Engaging Communities: Writing Ethnographic Research, an open-access textbook for college-level writing classrooms. To date, the web version of the text has had well over 43,000 unique users in 181 countries. In addition, it has been downloaded as an ePub (for free) over 1200 times. In addition to classroom use, the text has been cited in five scholarly articles focusing on writing pedagogy. Over the years we have received tens of emails from instructors telling us how wonderful and helpful the text is and how grateful they are that we’ve made the text fully accessible to them and their students.