My research agenda focuses on everyday writing, which colleagues and I have described as the “inventive, purposeful composing [across print and digital media] growing out of and in response to the private and public exigencies of everyday life” (Yancey et al, below). This practice and set of texts has also been described variously with terms like Anne Ruggles Gere’s the extracurriculum, Gerard Hauser and erin daina mcclellan’s vernacular rhetoric, and Nystrand and Duffy’s everyday rhetorics. Whereas the aforementioned scholarship tends to define and illustrate the practice deductively, my dissertation project, now completed, contributes to this body of research by working inductively—accounting for the experiences and understandings of the five self-proclaimed non-writers as they illustrate and describe the practice. Through time-use diaries and artifact collection, this research provides a portrait of what everyday writing looks like for these participants. As important, through the use of one-on-one interviews my research investigates how these writers define everyday writing and what they believe the term encompasses. I intend to carry this research forward in two ways: first, through the forthcoming publication on the the findings from my dissertation study; and second, through enlarging the scope of my research on this topic based on the research methods utilized in my dissertation project.

Dissertation Research

A Portrait of Everyday Writing: A Writer-Informed Approach

This dissertation develops both a portrait of everyday writing practices and a definition of everyday writing that is generated from and informed by everyday writers themselves. Existing scholarship on everyday writing often works deductively: scholars define the phenomenon and then use specific groups of writers or artifacts to illustrate that definition for specific purposes. This project, on the other hand, looks inductively at the writing practices, writing artifacts, and writing influences provided by five everyday writers—of different ages, occupations, locations, and experiences—so that the practitioners of everyday writing have a role in shaping the fields’ understandings of what everyday writing looks like and how it is defined.


“Defining Everyday Writing: Theories, Scenes, and New Directions for Research”

(with Kathleen Blake Yancey, Joe Cirio, and Erin Workman) South Atlantic Review, vol. 85, no. 2, 2020

To demonstrate that everyday writing is its own distinctive category of writing worthy of study, we take up four tasks: (1) providing a synopsis of the scholarship on everyday writing; (2) identifying a framework developed by Stephen Witte and a key concept from Jenny Rice useful for tracing similarities across kinds of everyday writing; (3) applying the framework to three very different everyday texts as a means of demonstrating the viability of everyday writing as a general construct while attending to the distinctive features of very different instantiations of such writing; and (4) identifying questions for future research.

“A Definition of Everyday Writing: a writer-informed approach”

Approaches to Lifespan Writing Research: Generating Murmurations Towards an Actionable Coherence, edited by Talinn Phillips and Ryan Dippre, WAC Clearinghouse, 2020.

This chapter suggests that everyday writing (EW), both the practice and the term, are valuable for studying writing through the lifespan for two major reasons. First, EW is the type of writing that is most often engaged in through the lifespan, but—in and out of the field—it is often overshadowed by academic and professional writing; turning our attention to EW can give us the opportunity to understand how most people use writing in the course of their daily lives. Second, the term EW helps non-academic and non-professional writers shift their perspectives of what writing is, what it does, and who counts as a writer; this shift makes the writers more aware of their own writing practices, makes them more apt to see themselves as writers, and makes them better understand how the writing they practice is, has been, and can be used throughout their lifespan.

“A Space Defined: Four Years in the Life of the FSU Digital Studio”

(with Jennifer Wells, Stephen J. McElroy, Andrew Burgess, Rory Lee, Josh Mehler, Jason Custer, Aimee Jones, and Joe Cirio.) In Rust Carpenter, Shawn Apostel, and Kristi Apostel, eds. Sustainable Learning Spaces. Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2015.

This article provides a historical perspective of the Florida State Digital Studio. The timeline approach spans the years of spatial and pedagogical development as they highlight the creation of their innovative space for digital composing. The article explains how FSU’s Digital Studio has been, and continues to be, shaped by the administrators in charge of the studio, the physical spaces themselves, and incoming/outgoing tutors who work in these spaces.

Selected Presentations

“If You Build It, Will They Use It: Encouraging Digital Composing.” Association of Rhetoric and Writing Studies Conference, Austin, TX: October 2018

This presentation explains the results of an IRB-approved study involving eight instructors who teach in the English Department at a large R1 University in the Southeast. Through my investigation, I found that, in this university’s English Department, the most influential factors on these decisions were not the physical aspects of the composing infrastructure discussed by DeVoss et al. and Selber; instead, it was the instructors’ communities of practice and their personal experiences with digital composing and their communities of practice. The presentation concludes by offering suggestions for how members of Writing Programs can encourage digital composing.

“A Portrait of Everyday Writing: A Writer-Informed Approach.” Writing Through the Lifespan Conference, Athens, OH: May 2018.

This presentation discussed the work-in-progress discussion of my research into the writing practices and definitions of five self-proclaimed non-writers. The presentation outlined my research methods designed to collect different types of data: 1) a time use diary that cataloged a week of my participants writing; 2) artifacts of writing created by my participants during the week they completed their time use diary; and 3) responses from one-on-one interviews with my participants. This data was collected from a group of participants who represent five different—almost life-spanning—age groups: there was one participant each in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. And each participant also represented a range of demographic characteristics, including gender, race, occupation, education, and location.

“Cultivating a Space for Everyday Writing” with Joe Cirio, Jacob Craig, Erin Workman. Respondents: Chris Anson and Kathleen Blake Yancey. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Portland, OR: March 2017. 

In this panel, we examine artifacts of everyday writing, arguing that in order to develop a robust understanding of writing and writing practices, we should look to the texts that people compose as part of their everyday lives. Each speaker takes up one artifact or collection of artifacts in order to demonstrate what more can be understood from concepts of writing that have already received attention (e.g. genre, ecology, affect, and circulation) through the lens of everyday writing.

“Life in the Margins: A Case Study of Digital Marginalia in Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolesence” with Heather Lang. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, FL: March 2015. 

This presentation discusses public-private and public marginalia—acontextual, brief, and idiosyncratic, the margin notes left a vague and intriguing record of each reader’s interaction with the text—in print and digital spaces. “Life in the Margins” compares annotations in the library book, a copy of bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress, with Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence, a work that was open for public annotation and review prior to its printing, to demonstrate the effects digital technology, commenting platforms, and the transition of private annotation to public spaces have had on reader’s annotation habits. The text is published on CommentPress, which allows readers to annotate the text, hoping to breathe life into their own margins.