Blog Post

Hello from Austin's Department of Rhetoric and Writing

I'm Connie Steel from UT Austin.  I've heard great things about HASTAC from our  Digital Writing and Research Lab and I'm thrilled to participate this year.  Here's a little about what I do:

My project:  I am a Ph.D student in the Department of English working on a dissertation in the subfield History of Rhetoric.  That means I study the history of the art and analysis of argumentation.  I use a broad definition of argumentation from Kenneth Burke, which allows for a richer understanding about how media works in arguments about identity.  At the moment my focus is on what is traditionally knows as epideictic rhetoric, which includes texts related to praise and blame and ceremonial occasions like weddings, funerals or opening ceremonies.  My dissertation looks at the discourse between local graveyard epitaphs (stone media) and printed "poetic" epitaphs in the 17th and 18th century.  The project investigates the rules for discourse (sometimes legal, religious or political), the relationship between media and genre, the ethical paradigms underlying representations of the dead, and the implied values expressed by the living.    

My teaching:  I currently serve as the Assistant Director of Rhetoric and Writing.  The title sounds fancy, but the position is traditionally held by advanced graduate students serving in formal mentor positions for new graduate instructors.  I am part of a small team headed by a tenured faculty member which provides an orientation, lesson plans, content and theory materials, a graduate level pedagogy course, office hours and honor code violation support for the 25 new instructors of our first-year rhetoric and writing course.  In the past I've taught that first-year writing course and had the opportunity to design and teach two courses related to ideas of materiality and identity:  "The Rhetoric of Motorcycles" and "Literature and Artificial Intelligence."  The Digital Writing and Research Lab was kind enough to host my class in their labs, which gave my students the opportunity to produce some lovely digital writing and multimodal projects.  

I'm very happy to join all of these fascinating conversations and looking forward to a great year!

Best from Texas,



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