Category Archives: Faculty News

PWR Perspective on Faculty Research: Dr. Li Li

If you ask an Elon PWR student what they love about their program of study, they will almost always bring up the amazing faculty that make the PWR program what it is. Besides developing intriguing and practical curricula for their classes and going out of their way to help students achieve their goals, the PWR professors also work on a variety of research projects that contribute to national and international discussions in the fields of writing and rhetoric. One of these faculty members is Dr. Li Li, an Assistant Professor of English and the PWR Major Coordinator, who had an article published about her research earlier this year. Dr. Li’s rhetorical analysis appeared in the journal Technical Communication Quarterly in January 2020 and is cited at the end of this post, and she offered more insights into her research process and results here:

How did you develop the idea for your recent article?

This article is a rhetorical analysis of the visual representation of Chinese immigrants in the Statistical Atlases of the United States. It all started when I accidentally encountered a population graph from the Statistical Atlases produced by the U.S. Census Bureau in the late 19th century.

Total Population, Selected Classes: 1880 (Gannett & Hewes,1883 Atlas Plate 22)

The American population was classified as follows: native/foreign, colored/white, males/females, and Chinese. Standing alone at the very top of the bar chart, “Chinese” immediately caught my eye. It was intriguing to me why “Chinese,” with a very small population size, was selected and represented as a major population category in this graph produced in the late 19th century. In order to understand the rhetorical decisions behind this graph, I started researching population graphs based on census data in the late 19th century and early 20th century and the historical context of the time period. And I decided to write an article about this.

What methods did you use to study your topic?

I used rhetorical analysis, archival research, and cultural studies methodologies in this study. I collected my data from the historical Statistical Atlases in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the atlases are available electronically from the Library of Congress website, but some can only be read in the archival section in the library. Touching and turning the pages of the 200-year-old atlases was a memorable experience for me. Archival reading was also a kind of directed ramble, but by reading through several thousand graphs in the atlases, I did find the information I set out to discover.

What was the most interesting thing (in your opinion) that you found in your research?

As my research progressed, I began to see the relationship that historical events, especially the Chinese Exclusion Act, had with the designer’s political agenda and the rhetorical choices made in the data displays. Data visualizations like population graphs could function as an exercise of state disciplinary power and social control over citizens and non-citizens, especially the undesirable and unproductive “others.”

Do you think this research will influence your studies of writing and rhetoric further?

Definitely. I have always been interested in the study of visual rhetoric. In future studies, I would like to examine more broadly how power and authority work in data designs and study inequities, such as racism and xenophobia, in visual communication practices. The project also contributes teaching materials to my classes on the discussion of history and conventions of data visualization, and ethics in creating and using data displays. This project can be used as a case study in my class to foster critical thinking and help students to become more ethical designers of data displays.

What do you hope that your research will accomplish, or what do you hope people take away from your research?

As I stated in my article, I hope the study will “raise critical awareness of the invisible politics and ideologies present in the visual language of historical data displays.” I also hope communicators will be informed on what visual strategies can be used to advance rhetorical purposes today.

If you want to read Dr. Li’s article, this is the citation to search:
Li Li (2020). Visualizing Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. Statistical Atlases: A Case Study in Charting and Mapping the Other(s), Technical Communication Quarterly, 29:1, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1690695

Comments Off on PWR Perspective on Faculty Research: Dr. Li Li

PWR Faculty Profile: Dr. Travis Maynard

This semester, Elon’s Professional Writing & Rhetoric major welcomes a new assistant professor, Dr. Travis Maynard! Dr. Maynard comes to us from Florida State University, where he completed both his master’s degree (2014)  and Ph.D. (2019) in Rhetoric and Composition before spending a year as part of the FSU English Department’s teaching faculty. In addition to teaching, Dr. Maynard has done extensive research on curriculum development and instruction in university writing programs and has presented his findings at academic conferences across the United States. During the 2020 Fall Semester, he will be teaching PWR 217: Professional Writing Technologies, as well as a section of ENG 110. He has also shared a few other bits of information to allow students to get to know him better:

What attracted you to Elon and its PWR program?

I was drawn to Elon and PWR because they both reminded me a lot of my own college experiences. I went to college at Transylvania University, where I was a member of the first graduating class of the university’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication major; in that program, I not only benefitted greatly from mentoring relationships with faculty but also realized the importance and value of undergraduate major programs in writing and rhetoric. Based on those experiences, I have known for a long time that I wanted to a) return to a smaller university setting where I could pay it forward by mentoring students and b) teach and research in an undergraduate major in writing and rhetoric. So, I see my new position here at Elon as a realization of both of those goals.

What research topic(s) are you interested in pursuing while at Elon?

I’m very interested in pursuing alumni research while at Elon—specifically alumni of the PWR program and/or the English department as a whole. For my dissertation, I surveyed and interviewed alumni of the Editing, Writing, and Media major at Florida State University, trying to get a sense of the kinds of work that alumni are doing, the kinds of writing they do, and if/how what they learned in the major helps them complete that writing. So, I’d like to refine and replicate that study with alumni of PWR.

What do you hope that students take away from your classes?

If nothing else, I hope that students take away two things. First, the inherently contextual nature of composing: in order to be rhetorically successful, we have to consider our context and audience and make informed rhetorical decisions about which medium and genre will best accomplish our rhetorical ends. Second, the inherently intertextual nature of composing: the idea that no matter what we are composing, we are almost always remixing together pre-existing materials—words, phrases, images, pieces of footage, genres, etc.

What is your favorite thing about teaching writing and rhetoric at the college level?

Really, so many things! I love teaching students new composing technologies, helping them think rhetorically about how to use those technologies, and seeing the end products of their composing. I also really enjoy being able to work with students to help them reach their academic and professional goals, whatever they may be.

Join us in welcoming Dr. Maynard to the Elon PWR faculty!


Also posted in PWR News | Comments Off on PWR Faculty Profile: Dr. Travis Maynard

Introducing Dr. Li

To continue Preregistration week, today I’ll be introducing Elon’s newest PWR Professor, Dr. Li.

Li Li-1Dr. Li completed her bachelor’s degree at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China; followed by her master’s degree, which she completed at University of Edinburgh in the UK; and finally her doctorate, which she completed at the University of Iowa. She has experience teaching in China, the UK, and the US in a variety of courses, including topics such as intercultural communication and rhetoric & composition. Dr. Li’s research focuses on data visualization, visual rhetorics, and intercultural rhetorics, which she says is inspired by her cross-cultural academic journey.

As I mentioned Monday, this fall, Dr. Li will be teaching a PWR special topics course on Data & Information Visualization.  This course is designed to help students develop a rhetorical understanding of information graphics. Dr. Li notes that English majors today are expected to have “hybrid-identities” and be more than just a writer.  Through this new course, Dr. Li plans to work with students to cultivate skills that will help them become effective information designers, and reach beyond “just” writing.

I hope you all will join me in welcoming Dr. Li to the PWR department, and don’t forget to register for Dr. Li’s ENG 313 Topics: Data & Information Visualization!

Comments Off on Introducing Dr. Li

Congratulations to Dr. Moore!

We wanted to take time to congratulate one of our very own, Dr. Moore, for being on the executive board for the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the tremendous amount of work she put into the Conference!

The CCCC “supports and promotes the teaching and study of college composition and communication by 1) sponsoring meetings and publishing scholarly materials for the exchange of knowledge about composition, composition pedagogy, and rhetoric; 2) supporting a wide range of research on composition, communication, and rhetoric; 3) working to enhance the conditions for learning and teaching college composition and to promote professional development; and 4) acting as an advocate for language and literacy education nationally and internationally.” To learn more about some of the things Dr. Moore has done, check out their website.

On top of that, Dr. Moore has also been running the undergraduate research poster session, managing sessions on transfer and writing, and has been so committed to the professional organization for rhetoric and composition.

Congratulations Dr. Moore! We are so lucky to have you here at Elon University.

Also posted in CUPID News, Outside the Classroom | Comments Off on Congratulations to Dr. Moore!

What Do Faculty Do at Conferences?

Ever wonder what happens when faculty members leave for a conference? Where do they go? What do they do?

Conferences are professional meetings of faculty with specific interests. Most academic conference include keynote addresses from leaders in the field, numerous presentations by attendees about research and pedagogical subjects, opportunities to meet with publishers and check out the latest texts in the discipline, and networking opportunities. We catch up with old friends and colleagues, while making connections with our peers.

Three of the PWR faculty will be attending what’s known as 4Cs, Conference on College Composition and Communication, this week in Las Vegas. This is the largest professional conference of writing, rhetoric, and professional communication instructors in the country. Follow me, Dr. Moore, and Dr. Rosinski or follow #cccc13 on Twitter to see what’s happening.


Comments Off on What Do Faculty Do at Conferences?

RPR’s Twitter Accountability Plan

You write papers for your classes all the time, but have you ever wondered how a professor writes the papers that s/he publishes in academic journals? When I was a student, I just assumed my professors were very smart and got automatically published. Not true.

We go through the same types of planning, procrastinating, drafting, revising, seeking out and implementing feedback, procrastinating, and revising some more processes that you do. Like your instructors evaluate your papers, editors and peer reviewers review our articles to offer feedback and determine if the piece should be published. I’ve had articles accepted on the first try and articles that got four revise-and-resubmits before I gave up.

All writers work on their craft and depend on their communities for feedback to help them grow.

I’ve been thinking about, outlining, and avoiding an article I want to write for three months now. My hold up is the literature review because that’s the most time-intensive part of the piece..but also one of the most important because it situates the points I want to make in what people have already said. This shows my peers that I’ve looked at what they’ve have said, understand it, and have something new to offer.

Because I know I’m procrastinating (I make that Calvin face when I have to write a lit review), I’ve set a goal of completing the first draft of the lit review by November 30th and am using two methods to hold me accountable. First, I’ve promised my writing group (Dr. Moore) that I’ll have the draft for our next meeting on November 30. And secondly, I’m using Twitter accountability. I read an article once about a professor who knew he procrastinated when he was writing, so every time he needed motivation to stop and write, he would put a terribly embarrassing picture of himself as his Facebook profile picture and have a friend change his password until he met his writing goal. I’m not that brave (and I’ve burned all the embarrassing pictures), so I’m tweeting my process instead.

For the next two weeks, I’ll be reading and rereading articles about service-learning, client-project pedagogy, and Agile methodology. As I read, I’ll tweet the titles of the articles, the main point and key ideas, and the aspects that I agree or disagree most with. You can follow me at @RPR_Elon and hold me accountable by tweeting me when you don’t see any article posts that day. Hopefully you’ll also get to see how a professor reads articles in the field and interrogates the arguments made in the pieces. At the very least it will be interesting to see if you can help me stay on task!

Comments Off on RPR’s Twitter Accountability Plan

Second Language Writing & PWR

Guest Blogger Professor Jessie Moore

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 11th Symposium on Second Language Writing at Purdue University (my graduate school alma mater!) in West Lafayette, Indiana. So why is a PWR faculty member attending a second language writing conference?

Second language writing was one of my earliest research areas, and I continue to remain active in the field. Most recently, I’ve explored how the field is developing internationally. Even though people write in second languages around the globe, most of the field’s research has been conducted by scholars in the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. The Wordle above shows the proportional contributions of researchers in different geographic locations to the field’s leading journal, the Journal of Second Language Writing.

I’m interested in the geographical gaps in the field’s research, so I’ve started looking at how second language writing work develops around communities of practice – groups of people who develop a sense of community around their shared interests, knowledge, and goals. I presented on second language writing’s communities of practice at the symposium.

The other reason I stay active in the field of second language writing is that its research can inform our work in professional writing and rhetoric. Here are a few quick examples, represented at the intersection of the two fields in the figure above:

  • We’re used to studying Western rhetorics, but as we work in global contexts, we’re likely to encounter other rhetorical histories. These international rhetorics shape the way our international clients and competitors read and write, so being attentive to alternative rhetorical traditions can make us more successful professional writers.
  • When we work with international colleagues, we also are likely to encounter other cultural traditions. Being attentive to cross-cultural communication strategies can help us avoid offending others and remain attentive to culture references that might complicate international communication.
  • Have you ever thought about how your writing practices in your first language (L1) impact your writing in a second language (L2)? Studies in L1-L2 Transfer help writers understand what might apply from their L1 writing experiences when they are working in an L2 – as well as what might make the transition from writing in one language to writing in the other difficult.

If you want to know more about my research or about how second language writing connects to PWR, feel free to stop by my office (ALAM 320B). If you are interested in undergraduate research at the intersection of these fields, let me know. The next Symposium on Second Language Writing will be held in October 2013 at Shandong University in Jinan, China, which would be an amazing venue for presenting your research!

Also posted in Outside the Classroom | Comments Off on Second Language Writing & PWR

Dr. Jessie Moore visits Cambodia on sabbatical

Professional Writing and Rhetoric Professor Dr. Jessie Moore is spending this semester on sabbatical, during which she has taken advantage of developing her research in second language writing in a great way. While on sabbatical, Dr. Moore is spending time extending research she conducted almost 10 years ago on second language writing. Returning to this research has provided Dr. Moore with the opportunity to explore the developments of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and second language writing in a new way. Dr. Moore’s intriguing study, titled “Mapping the Geographies of Second Language Writing” focuses primarily on three very significant points on second language writing- the lack of cohesion between ESL and foreign language writing, the disconnect between the R1 institutions where research on second language writers is conducted and the educational contexts where these second language writers are actually learning, as well as global developments in second language writing studies.

It was her research on global context that led Dr. Moore to Cambodia. Generally, texts on second language writers come from first world countries like the United States, Japan, Western European countries, and Australia. Dr. Moore noticed a gap around developing countries, and that many countries in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia were not getting appropriate attention. When conducting research, Dr. Moore noticed that there were publications on second language writing coming out of Cambodia, which really interested her. Dr. Moore attended the CamTESOL conference in Cambodia during her 10 day visit, a conference for professionals involved with English Language Teaching (ELT). The conference aimed to create a forum for open discussion about ELT, as well as discussion about ways to expand the network of ELT teachers in Cambodia and internationally. It is important that ELT professionals in Cambodia to have connections in other nations, and this conference helped to do so.

Along with attending the CamTESOL conference, Dr. Moore had the opportunity to visit two language schools that offered English classes. These schools were Beltei International Institute and the New York International School in Phnom Penh. When visiting these private institutions, Dr. Moore was given the opportunity to view formal presentations about the schools, as well as interact with students. She was even able to sit and have a full length discussion with Cambodian students in their intermediate level of learning English.

There is no question that the trip to Cambodia, the CAMTESOL conference, as well as the visits to schools that Dr. Moore was able to take part in during her sabbatical are wonderful examples of the ways that Professional Writing and Rhetoric can take shape in so many different forums and experiences. Please enjoy a few pictures from Dr. Moore’s visits with Beltei International Institute and New York International School.


Comments Off on Dr. Jessie Moore visits Cambodia on sabbatical