Ben Gunsberg

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I am a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan. My research interests include rhetorical theory, composition, and digital media studies.

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I am a doctoral candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) with interests in rhetoric and composition, digital media studies, and creative writing. My dissertation research explores college students’ and teachers’ interactions with digital technology and Internet texts. The qualitative component of this study involves observing and interviewing teachers and students and analyzing texts used and produced throughout the semester. I put this work into conversation with the historical strand of my dissertation, which explores pedagogical genres used in college writing courses over the past five decades. This two-part dissertation design allows me to compare changes in pedagogical writing genres over time and explore the ways new media and the genre ecology of the Internet might influence college writing instruction in the future.

My teaching career began with Teach for America, a program that places recent college graduates in under-resourced schools throughout the United States. Since then I have taught middle school Language Arts, high school English, and a variety of college-level English courses, both at Michigan and at the University of Alabama. These professional transitions—from one school and grade-level to another—have continuously compelled me to question the content of my courses (Is this what I should be teaching?), my instruction (Is this how I should be teaching?), and motives (Is this why I should be teaching writing?). By attempting to answer such questions, time and again, and in response to the demands of different courses in various contexts, I have broadened my view of writing instruction; applying this wide-angle lens to my teaching allows me to imagine the kinds of pedagogical scaffolds that encourage students to move from the expectations of high school to those of college writing. Indeed, my own perspective has expanded each time my assumptions about writing instruction have been challenged.

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