This dissertation will broaden the purview of recent scholarship pertaining to socially just writing assessments by making connections among assemblage theory and materialism, studies of ecological and anti-racist assessments, and studies of writing center work, to ground theoretical conversations in everyday practices. Focusing on systemic oppression in the neoliberal university and consciously using assemblage theory as a mechanism for confronting multiliteracies allows writing center directors to see the constant movement and reshaping of students’ knowledges as they approach different environments, different courses, and different genres. Notions of intra-relatedness and intertwinings evident in assemblage theory are essential to this dissertation’s consideration of pedagogy and administration. Expanding upon research on ecological and anti-racist assessment practices, I argue that it is vitally important for writing program administrators and writing center directors to bring complex views of literacies and identities to their assessment protocols. I further argue that this practice can be aided by frameworks based in assemblage theory. Using archival research and critical discourse analysis, this project explores one WC’s history and current practices in a large public, urban university system as a case study. Acknowledging the burden of negotiating hurdles set up by corporatized university structures, this dissertation examines the ways institutional pressures can shape assessments, and makes suggestions for new, socially just approaches relying on assemblage theory that follow current trends in writing assessment.


  • In this article, we discuss how participating in a writing group helped us reimagine what scholarly productivity means for us as writing center professionals (WCPs). Drawing on our personal experiences participating in an online writing group for two years, we identify themes that emerged across our experiences: (1) sharing an understanding of the inherent value of writing center work; (2) professionalization and professional development; and (3) networking and social support. Together, these themes demonstrate the value of this writing group to us in particular but also for WCPs more generally who consistently juggle competing work demands. These themes also make visible a broader notion of scholarly productivity by helping us think more strategically about the complex and layered work we do as WCPs. This work is significant because it can help WCPs not only re-conceive what it means to be productive as a writing center scholar but to more fully integrate the work they are already doing.
“EXAMINING RETENTION AT THE SLAC: THE IMPACT OF RACE, CLASS, AND RESOURCE USE ON FIRST YEAR WRITING.” Co-authored with Dr. Lisa Mastrangelo. Writing Program Administration (Fall 2022).
  • This article explores retention at a SLAC, specifically breaking down the factors that affected our students’ success in the writing classroom.  Noting that students of color and first-generation students struggled more than their peers, we explore the current literature surrounding these issues and the writing classroom, particularly in terms of the ways that it affects a SLAC that is also a primarily white institution (PWI).  In addition, we explore the use of resources that are available to all students on campus, and the fact that most students who did not successfully complete the course also did not take advantage of those resources in a meaningful way.  Throughout, we brainstorm ways that we might further assist students in succeeding in the writing classroom and ways that writing directors might continue to implement anti-racist pedagogies. 
“RETOOLING THE OWC: OFFERING CLIENTS ONLINE PLATFORM CHOICES DURING A PANDEMIC.” Co-authored with Dr. Sean Molloy. Writing Lab Newsletter (May/June 2022).
  • In this article, we argue that offering clients choices in digital platforms for OWC tutorials allows greater accessibility and comfort for WC clients. We examine some of the tensions and opportunities afforded by systemizing technology flexibility in OWC sessions, and highlight important questions for WC administrators grappling with the technical barriers faced by tutors and clients. Our insights are based on an IRB-approved study across our two WCs. By providing this data and analysis, we hope to continue conversations currently occurring in informal WC professional spaces regarding OWC operations and to provide new frameworks for WC administrators looking to ground technical practice in WC theory.
“Making the Most and Best Use of Eggs: Producer-Consumers, Modernist Labor Periodicals, and the Rhetoric of The Farmer’s Wife.From Installation to Remediation: The CWSHRC Digital New Works Showcase. Peitho, 18.1 (Fall/Winter 2015).
  • In order to continue the interactive work of the New Work Showcase, I’ve designed this remediation of “Making the Most and Best Use of Eggs” in a way that, I hope, inspires a participatory conversation with its audience. The articles are curated here based both on their importance to my larger argument and on their featured position in the individual issues of the periodicals in order to offer a general overview of the labor-related rhetorical framework I am addressing. Below, you’ll find a linked pathway that will help you navigate through my reading of this work. However, I encourage you to explore the WordPress-based timeline chronologically as well, or to examine the images and articles collected here in an order that makes sense to you. The images and links throughout the timeline will take you to PDF or JPEG versions of the articles that can be enlarged for easier viewing. Commentary connected to my narrative can be found linked at the bottom of the appropriate pages.

Select Conference Presentations

“Writing Center and Program Assessment at the SLAC.” SLAC-WPA 2024 Conference, Lafayette College, Easton, PA.
  • As Nathan Henton notes in his 2019 dissertation, First-Year Writing Program Assessment at Small Liberal Arts Colleges, the majority of assessment studies and models available for either first year composition or writing centers are geared towards “public comprehensive universities who assume that type of institution as their model” (8).  Due to  the scarcity of SLAC assessment research, most SLACs find themselves working to create their own models, duplicating labor.  This presentation offers models of SLAC assessment for both the first-year required writing courses as well as the campus writing center.  Based on the models provided by the AAC&U value rubrics, our normed assessment models have been in place for nearly ten years, have themselves undergone assessment review, and are easily transferable to other institutions.  As well, they are carefully aligned with current assessment best practices, have been reviewed by students, and are supported by administration and the campus assessment committee. Undergraduate peer tutors in the writing center were involved in rubric reviews of the assessment of first year writers.  The assessments completed by the first year faculty are used to direct future student programming in the writing center and tutor education.  In turn, the writing center assessment results help influence the first year writing curriculum.  This symbiotic relationship across writing spaces at the university builds continuity and campus ethos that might not be achievable on a larger scale. 
“First Year Retention and the Writing Classroom: Assessing Concurrent Factors.” 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication, virtual.
  • Panel Abstract: While rhetoric and composition scholars have long understood that there was a direct correlation between success in the first year classroom and persistence/retention (Brunk-Chavez, Estrem, Ruecker, Shepherd, Reichert Powell, Frederickson, Tinto, Horning, etc.), it is only more recently that the first-year classroom has become an active site for institutional retention conversations. Particularly in an age when institutions are increasingly competing for students and even families are paying close attention to attrition and completion rates, administrators are gradually beginning to see the first year composition course—often the only course that all incoming students take— as a site for retention work. However, as Pegeen Reichert Powell notes, administrators and even writing teachers may overestimate the impact that first year composition can have on retention. This cross-institutional roundtable dialogue will reflect on the issues surrounding retention in order to interrogate our commonplaces as student advocates and writing professionals.
    Recent conversations, including several books published on retention and
    persistence, reframe the conversation about first year composition as a location with larger implications than the introduction of academic discourse. However, according to Powell, instead of focusing on issues such as retention, we should be thoughtfully and intentionally reframing our questions about sites of learning and kairotic moments. As Powell notes, “Our goal should not be to prepare a student to live the life of an intellectual, worker, and citizen, but rather to invite the student to participate now as reader and writer of the world, to recognize that they are currently intellectuals, workers, citizens” (118).
    Taking Reichert Powell’s call for mindfulness into account, this roundtable format will include brief presentations given by multiple presenters from a diverse group of institutions and perspectives (two SLACs, a minority-serving institution, a person working with undeclared majors, a stretch course, and a linked-cohort model). Presenters are at a variety of stages of asking questions, planning/design, implementation, and review. Each presenter will give a brief description of their program and the focus on/issues with retention, as well as observations/solutions that they are actively engaged with, contextualized in data collection and current scholarship. By offering a greater understanding of the ways in which our institutions are framing the problem as well as our innovative approaches to it, the panel will offer both real-life perspectives, complicating the “composition can solve retention issues” narrative, as well as potential solutions and reframings.
  • Individual Paper Description: These presenters, also representing a small liberal arts college on the east coast, will discuss their efforts to track retention through the first year writing course and participation on the First Year Retention Team. In particular, we will present data assessing whether or not students our student profiles are consistent with national data. As well, we will discuss data that explores whether our students are using other “services” on campus (tutoring, Equal Opportunity Fund, counseling, disability services, etc.) and what impact, if any, this has had on retention.
“‘When Their Own Latent Power is Freed’: The Farmer’s Wife, the 1926 Farm Women’s Conference, and “Mama Grizzly” Activism, Then and Now.” Council of Writing Program Administrators 2019 Summer Conference, Baltimore, MD.
  • From 1906 to 1934 as the sole magazine exclusively targeting rural, farm women, The Farmer’s Wife balanced its identity between a lady’s magazine and a trade journal. In 1926, its editors co-hosted a small conference to inspire legislative action to improve the quality of life of the rural women. Both the magazine and the pamphlet for this conference focus on the need to give farm women a public voice, speaking back to mainstream assumptions about the roles of these rural female laborers. The rhetoric featured in these publications, however, espouses a strange blend of pro-women and anti-feminist ideology, making the documents an interesting source for an analysis of populist argument during the Modernist era.
    Similar rhetorical strategies among rural women surfaced during the 2016 presidential election cycle, when candidates used misogynist discourse and were supported by working class rural women searching for vocal representation. What can these patterns of “Mama Grizzly” discourse, to use Sarah Palin’s term, tell us about the traditions of rural political rhetoric? And how can rural women’s voices from the past shed light upon current traditionalist rhetoric?
    A necessary addition to scholarship on the rhetoric of community in TFW (Galligani Casey 2009; Mattson Lauters 2009; Andersen 2015) is a deeper analysis of the magazine’s participation in a long history of problematic political rhetoric. This presentation will unpack the 1926 conference pamphlet and issues of TFW from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign archives in conversation with women rhetors featured in the media during the 2016 US presidential election. By making these cross-political, cross-epochal comparisons, this speaker aims to highlight some of the complexities surrounding populist discourse and to examine the rhetorical choices of a voting bloc that continues to perplex outside audiences.
“Peer-Tutor Collaborations and Developing Socially-Just Writing Center Assessments in the Face of Austerity.” 2018 II International Conference of The Latin American Association of Writing Studies in Higher Education and Professional Contexts (II ALES), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
  • Panel Abstract: In Reframing Writing Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning, Adler-Kassner and  O’Neill  note that assessment should not simply be an administrative task, but should offer the opportunity to “build alliances with others and to communicate [values-based] messages about writing instruction” (143).  More commonly, however, assessment happens under pressure from administration to count bodies, report retention, and decide cost per student, all factors that serve the institution’s fiscal health rather than the goals of a healthy writing program. This panel presents ways to develop a variety of robust assessments that define success more broadly than retention and body counts.
    Individual Paper Description: Coming from the same financially-challenged SLAC as Speaker 1, Speaker 4 will detail her experiences of shifting the culture of her writing center toward a research-focused model that professionalizes peer tutors. As Speaker 4 currently struggles to maintain funding while fostering her center’s research agenda, assessment is proving to be a key element in the conversation. Building off her dissertation research on socially-just writing center assessments, this speaker will explain her collaborations with peer tutors on assessments, her in-progress fight for her writing center’s place as both a student service and a site of research, and centering social justice in a conversation that otherwise is driven by neoliberal frameworks at her institution. Speaker 4 will offer a heuristic for socially-just writing center assessments to session participants, and will explain the challenges arising as she and her peer tutors work with the heuristic.
Operation Collaboration: Uncovering Histories of Writing Center Assessment Networks.” 2017 International Writing Centers Association Conference, Chicago, IL.
  • Individual Paper Description: In her 2014 WCJ article, Stacy Nall argues that writing centers must give archives a privileged place in their operations in order to emphasize important collaborative practices. Programmatic archives, as has been argued across composition and rhetoric scholarship (L’Eplattenier and Mastrangelo; Kirsch and Rohan), tell an important story of our administrative past that is key to the on-going success of our programs. When faced with building new archives in order to establish these patterns of collaboration, what must be emphasized by writing center directors? Specifically, for the focus of this presentation, where do stories of assessment fit into these archival histories, and why do they matter? This presentation will confront these questions, using the speaker’s research narrative of the past year. In working through her dissertation research, the speaker focused on a case study of one urban writing center and its scattered archives. The speaker discovered that, while the English department records had been maintained as archival works, the founding of the writing center had gone largely undocumented, despite its key role in English department initiatives and the special programming of other campus offices. Relying on oral histories, then, the speaker established a narrative focused on the assessment practices of the center. By attending to assessment specifically, the speaker argues for the importance of archiving programmatic evaluative practices that can help establish past WC collaborations as templates for new initiatives. Turning to her current work as a director, the presentation will finish with ideas for starting a writing center assessment archive from scratch.
Advocating Across Campus: Identity-Driven Writing Center Collaborations.” (roundtable) 2017 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, Hempstead, NY.
  • Panel abstract: How can writing centers act as advocates for student writers across campuses? More importantly, how can writing centers focus their collaborations in ways that emphasize the need for inclusivity across campus through broader definitions of literacies? This roundtable discussion, facilitated by a director and peer tutors, will engage with these questions using personal narratives of new partnership-building initiatives in one writing center. After brief presentations, participants will break out into small groups to consider brainstorming questions regarding partnership initiative possibilities.
    Description: Speaker One will introduce some background information about the writing center, and will explain the context for the partnership initiatives. She will set up the framework used for developing the collaborations, and will offer some insight about the process from an administrative perspective. Additionally, this speaker will offer examples from the center’s new policy documentation, and will analyze the language choices in these documents as she explains the collaborative drafting process behind them.
“Fostering Social Justice Frameworks: Activist Praxis in the Practical Spaces of Writing Programs.” 2017 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Portland, OR.
  • Panel abstract: The 2016 CCCC asked composition and rhetoric scholars to consider “action” in our field. This panel continues that conversation by considering practical applications of critical literacy and translingual theories for social justice in the writing program. How do we cultivate social justice ethos in disciplinary conversations focused on the “practical life” of WPAs? This panel takes on both practical and theoretical notions by considering the ways in which the field implements—or balks at—communication-oriented activism in everyday practices. Since the early days of the field, a tension has existed between scholarship focused around theoretical discussions and those focused around “what we do” as teachers/administrators. To address this tension, we build on Linda Adler-Kassner’s argument to bridge sociopolitical issues and social action theories with the teaching of writing in the university examining what it might mean to enact “activist WPA” work in specific, local contexts, both in and out of the classroom. Coming from a large public university system in New York, the four panelists will discuss the ways they are able to confront the difficulties of institutional normativizing structures at a time when so many of their students are working to break down structures of inequality in their neighborhoods and elsewhere. By questioning the  separation between activist WPA work and institutional constraints, this panel seeks to respond to the 2017 CCCC call to gain better understandings of “the disciplinary landscape.”DescriptionIn “Cultivating Change, Complicating Literacies: One Writing Center’s History of Assessment,” Speaker Two will examine the history of assessment frameworks used in a public university writing center (WC). WC histories often overlook assessment practices, focusing instead on histories of tutor training and tutoring pedagogy. By attending to assessment specifically, Speaker Two points to the importance of programmatic evaluative practices in fostering activist environments in writing programs. This presentation will point to connections between trends in WC theory and their impacts on the everyday practices of this particular WC over time, and, taking into consideration the institutional history surrounding Open Admissions and student activism, will emphasize the growing concern for multiple literacies and student identity politics as the WC developed over the last quarter of the twentieth century. Turning to conversations coming out of the 2016 CCCC and recent published scholarship, Speaker Two will make suggestions for applications of current scholarship regarding anti-racist assessments (Inoue, Inoue and Poe) as a way of speaking to today’s political climate and continuing the WC’s history of pushing against institutional pressures in order to work toward important literacy activism.
“Refried Beans: Moving Beyond Standardization in Writing Center Assessments.” (roundtable) 2016 International Writing Centers Association Conference, Denver, CO.
  • Panel abstract: This panel examines three viewpoints from different institutions that can be taken into account when developing responsible WC assessment practices. Presenter 1 draws on ecological frameworks to design assessment that recognizes student multiliteracies. Presenter 2 resists prior narratives of writing center work and involves writing center stakeholders in developing a mission towards future assessment. Presenter 3 reports on outreach offered to multilingual students that blended quantitative and qualitative methods to more accurately capture what was working in sessions in order to create more inclusive future training practices.
    Description: During the 2014 IWCA Conference, Lynee Lewis Gaillet and her roundtable co-discussants interrogated collaborative relationships between writing programs and writing centers. Speaker One picks up this conversation, focusing on programmatic assessments. How can WCDs effectively use ecological frameworks in order to show the complex work of writing programs and centers? Drawing from assemblage theory and anecdotal experiences at two different university writing centers, this presentation explores collaborative possibilities for assessment that recognize student multiliteracies.
“Assessing Assemblages in the Online Writing Center: Multiliteracies and Labor Practices in a Theoretical Framework.” Council of Writing Program Administrators 2016 Summer Conference, Raleigh, NC.
  • Panel abstract: Conversations surrounding labor issues have become an important part of WPA activism. Simultaneously, greater emphasis has been placed on online writing instruction as universities move toward technologically-facilitated educational models. As these trends converge, WPAs must meet both the educational needs of students and material needs of faculty members. This session introduces five perspectives on these issues, highlighting concerns for administering OWI in different settings. Participants will use these lightning talks as starting points for small and then large group discussions.
    Description: Assemblage theorists emphasize the process of the always-becoming aspect of intersectional identifications. (Puar, 2012). But how does this principle highlight identity issues in our WC assessment practices? This speaker uses assemblage theory as a lens for WC assessment practices that  recognize issues of multicultural multi-literacies in the online tutoring of students.
“Designing Freshman Writing with Writing Centers: Not an Afterthought.” 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Houston, Texas.
  • Panel abstract: This panel describes course designs in a writing program that fulfill curricular requirements, yet still exemplify pedagogical creativity.
    Description: While some argue that structured curriculum and pedagogical freedom have too many incongruities to work in tandem, this panel proposes some contradistinctions between restrictive programmatic curricular prescriptions and anti-oppressive pedagogical free-for-alls. As instructors all working within one program that has curricular requisites, these panelists re-examine this counterproductive binary in writing programming that unnecessarily pits programmatic parameters against pedagogical liberties. By describing an FYC curricular infrastructure that paves the way for innovative teaching and then giving examples of individual course designs, these panelists demonstrate how a program can inscribe a curriculum that meets institutional constraints (i.e., mission directives, curricular consistency, obligatory assessment) while also invoking inventive teaching practices. Through their pedagogical responses to a curriculum with clearly articulated assignments and end objectives, this panel exemplifies how curricular structure can harness collective teaching experience and spur pedagogical creativity for a sustainable, vibrant writing program.
    Paper Abstract: The curriculum in question works closely with the campus’ writing center (WC) to offer individualized and group programming for FYC students. These initiatives help fill the gap left when basic writing classes were removed because of an institutional status change and resulting university regulations. These support initiatives also help facilitate transfer between the two required writing courses and freshman-level classes in other departments. This speaker will explore the interrelationship between the writing program and the writing center, highlighting the ways in which transfer is actively sought and achieved. Giving the WC a central focus rather than seeing it as an afterthought in programmatic design, this presentation will show the importance of curricular collaboration between the WC and the writing program. Rather than an afterthought of pedagogy, this panelist considers the role of the writing center as a central focus of freshman composition.
“To Boldly Fail: Space and Exploration in Digital Composing” 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Tampa, FL
  • This presentation will present a range of digital projects created for a doctoral seminar that explored the affordances of multimodal composition. Using the idea of “failing forward” explored in Judith Halberstam’s Queer Art of Failure, the speakers will present a series of reflections by digital composers who examined the exploratory moves that went into their projects and the first inevitable failures that accompanied their forays into the digital world. In using these reflections to study the role of both failure and experimentation in a digital composition environment, the speakers will consider how all composers – students and faculty alike – can benefit by being given room to experiment — and at times to fail in ways that can become generative and productive.
“Agents Online: Assessing Access to Transfer in Online Tutoring Initiatives”; 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Recent scholarship on transfer in the field of composition and rhetoric has focused largely on implications for writing classrooms (Reiff & Bawarshi 2011; Robertson, et al 2012; Donahue 2012; Wardle 2007, 2009). However, Rebecca Nowacek (2011) addresses implications of transfer research for writing centers, acknowledging the crucial role for tutors as mediators between students and instructors as they forge connections that lead to the transfer of writing-based knowledge. Speaker 3 will expand on the conversation opened in Nowacek’s work, extending the transfer discussion to include writing centers, recognizing their important place in composition studies writ large. She will investigate what it means for tutors to actively participate as “handlers” and “agents,” as both student guides and active connection-builders, when a tutoring initiative takes on a digital life. Speaker 3 will share data from her assessment of an online tutoring program, drawing on session feedback forms, student survey data, and chat session transcripts. She will explore the process of assessing the online initiative while staying attuned to the unrecognizable forms transfer sometimes takes. Implications for work in writing center assessment will be examined and will emphasize connections between transfer and writing center experiences.
“‘Women of Ability and Understanding’: The Farmer’s Wife, The American Country Life Association and the 1926 Farm Women’s Conference”; 2012 Conference on College Composition and Communication, St. Louis, Missouri
  • In 1926, the editors of The Farmer’s Wife, the only periodical of the time to cater exclusively to the needs of farm women, collaborated with the American Country Life Association in order to bring together a select group of farm women for a conference. The event, held in Chicago for three days in March, addressed the question, “What are farm women thinking about?” and was one of the predominant farm women’s conferences held in the early twentieth century. Echoing the broader concerns of Theodore Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission in 1908, the conference focused mainly on issues of rural education and the organization of agrarian communities. While the few published scholarly pieces on the periodical’s history have been thorough, they have neglected to include the important addition of the Chicago conference in the rhetorical history of the publication. Through close readings of issues of TFW in the years surrounding the conference and of the published conference pamphlet, The Farm Woman Answers the Question: What Do Farm Women Want?, this speaker will investigate the active role TFW played during the years surrounding the conference in the actual communities of the farm women who made up its readership, and will attempt to position it more clearly in the rhetorical history of periodicals of the time.
“Power Hungry: Food and Farm Women in A Thousand Acres and The Grapes of Wrath”; 2011 CUNY English Student Association Interdisciplinary Conference, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York
  • Although the women in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres are marginalized in their gendered roles as farm women,  their duties as caretakers of their families give them sources of alternative power. This power, located in the domestic sphere, is directly linked to the meals they provide for their families, as food is a dominant image throughout both texts. One might see similar cases reflected in the lives of American farm women of the past as they established themselves as integral parts of agrarian life despite a marginalized status in standard power structures. Though it is easy to think of the domestic duties of women as servile, one must look past the common perceptions of farm women in order to see that, within their gendered responsibilities, women were able to obtain great power within their families. In this paper, I will argue that although the women in Steinbeck’s and Smiley’s novels, like their historical counterparts, seem to take on inferior positions in their traditionally oriented lives, in actuality their gendered roles hold as much power as those of the males in the texts due to their culinary duties. This demonstrates that food plays a key part in the distribution of authority in agricultural settings. Adhering to the definition of female power found in Susan C. Rogers’ article, “female forms of power and the myth of male dominance,“ I will attempt to show how the women in these novels achieve a subversion of the ’repressed rural woman’ stereotype using food as their main tool for obtaining this alternative authority and developing unique domestic feminisms in each text.