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Research in Writing Studies

Research in Writing Studies often takes a broad and interdisciplinary view of writing, speaking, and visual design: what makes communication effective in specific situations; how people teach and learn communication in different contexts; and what communication accomplishes in the world. Researchers in these fields may use methods from the humanities (e.g., rhetorical analysis and historical methods) and the social sciences (e.g. quantitative and qualitative methods) to examine the nature, genres, practices, and consequences of communication in academic, professional, public, and civic contexts. Often students present their research at regional or national professional meetings.

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Professional Writing

  • Professional Writing -- Maddison Hamaker

    Rhetorical Strategies Within Sex Vs. Gender

    Student Researcher: Maddison Hamaker

    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Zerbe

    Abstract: Rhetorical strategies are presented differently within the disciplines but studying the effectiveness of the strategies is what I wanted to focus on within my project. While taking Rhetoric of Science with Dr. Zerbe, it has inspired me to learn how rhetorical strategies are being used within the Women and Gender Studies field while using my experience from my major, Professional Writing. A tricky argument that some people have issues articulating is the difference between sex and gender, or if there are any differences, to begin with. Analyzing rhetorical strategies within the sex and gender argument is something that should have more academic research within the writing and gender field. My poster and paper explore the argument while learning what rhetorical strategies are and how effective they are.

  • Writing Research -- Rachel Palepale

    What’s in a Word? How 10 Women Recount Their Experience in Bondage

    Student Researcher: Rachel Palepale

    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Murphy-Cope

    Abstract: Using archival research methods, I looked at the rhetoric of 10 female slave narratives. The purpose of my research was to highlight the ways that women slave narratives differ from men's slave narratives and to further discover how these narratives have influenced modern-day African-American literature.

  • Professional Writing -- Corrine Longenbach

    The Sister Survivors Have Spoken

    Student Researcher: Corrine Longenbach

    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Murphy-Cope

    Abstract: The effects of sexual abuse have been studied through several lenses belonging to a variety of disciplines. Scholars assert that survivors often struggle with verbalizing their experiences and emotions and establishing their credibility when presenting victim-impact statements. While current scholarship provides insight into the use of rhetoric of all types of sexual abuse victims, there has not been adequate research focused only on the survivors of Larry Nassar and how their unique experience shaped their statements in court. My paper explores the combined rhetoric of sexual abuse victims and victim-impact statements through a case study of victim-impact statements made by the survivors of Larry Nassar. Specifically, I will be using discourse analysis to examine approximately 10% of the victim-impact statements presented during Nassar’s hearings. I wanted to examine the statements from multiple perspectives to create a comprehensive understanding of the rhetoric used by a particular group of survivors. I argue that while the Nassar survivors’ rhetoric is consistent with the rhetoric of other sexual abuse victims, their distinctive situation gives way to rhetorical techniques unique to the hundreds of victims of Nassar. In conclusion, this project, by closely examining a limited number of victim-impact statements provided by sexual abuse surviors of Nassar at his court hearings, provides a more in-depth understanding of the rhetoric used by sexual abuse victims.

  • Professional Writing: Abigail Hoffer

    Ocean Plastics

    Researcher: Abigail Hoffer

    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Zerbe

    Abstract: The goal of my project was to better inform people of the scope and distribution of ocean plastic. Upon doing some preliminary searching I learned that many news outlets were reporting incorrect or confusing information, and I wanted to research further in order to give myself and others a better understanding of the situation. My project is a podcast where my sister interviews me about my research. I had her read my research as it was and formulate questions as she read. I hoped that through this method I would gain a better understanding of what questions needed to be addressed.

  • Communication: Adam Richwall

    How Screen Use Can Affect Sleep

    Researcher: Adam Richwall

    Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Zerbe

    Abstract: The goal of this project was to translate researched information from a very technical literature review to become a more simplified project meant for a general audience. I chose to present my topic in the form of a PowerPoint with a voice over. This was the best option because it is able to present a large amount of information in a concise way that delivers a clear idea about my topic. My topic was about how screen use can affect sleep. I chose this because there has been a large increase in the dependence of screen based devices within the past 15 years. About a dozen academic articles were read to fully understand this topic and 5 articles were chosen to be highlighted in the literature review. This PowerPoint is intended to introduce a growing problem that screen-based devices may cause in our society.

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