A Great Start for PhD Candidate Rebecca Frost

Rebecca Frost
Rebecca Frost

PhD candidate Rebecca Frost has been sharing her scholarly research in several different venues as she completes her dissertation this year. This summer, she presented a paper entitled “Future or past?” at the first “Evil Incarnate” conference on villains and villainy, “Approaching Evil: The Societal Function of True Crime.” A paper by Rebecca on male violence in two works by Stephen King (“Razors, Bumper Stickers, and Wheelchairs: Male Violence and Madness in Rose Madder and Mr. Mercedes”) has been accepted for next spring’s Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association national conference. And her paper from the last PCA/ACA conference, “A Different Breed: Serial Killers in Works by Stephen King,” is being published later this year as a chapter in a collection about Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics. Nice work, Rebecca!

PhD Student Wincharles Coker Published in Journal Discourse and Communication

Beatrice-BookPhD Student Wincharles Coker has published a review of Beatrice Quarshie Smith’s book Reading and Writing in the Global Workplace: Gender, Literacy, and Outsourcing in Ghana. The review appears in the November 2014 edition of the journal Discourse and Communication (pp. 429-32). It’s available online at http://dcm.sagepub.com/content/current.

Nancy Barr’s Novels Featured

Page One: Hit and Run
Page One: Hit and Run

Mystery novelist Nancy Barr, a PhD student in the RTC program and a staff member in the ME-EM Department, was recently featured on two Michigan-oriented websites. She is the author of three novels, Page One: Hit and Run, Page One: Vanished, and Page One: Whiteout, published by Arbutus Press. All three books are set in the Upper Peninsula and feature a strong female protagonist, newspaper reporter Robin Hamilton.

The Motown Writers Network featured her on their site this summer and Michigander Monday posted an interview with Nancy on September 1.

In addition to her busy career and school schedule, she is working on a new novel that is part mystery, part ghost story that shifts between two time frames: the Copper Country’s mining boom days in the early 1900s and the early 1970s, shortly after the last mine in Houghton County shut down.


The RTC graduate program will be well-represented at the Writing across the Peninsula Conference to be held on October 9 and 10, 2014 at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. The theme of this year’s conference is “Digital Landscapes and Engaging in the Hybrid Environment.” Here is a list of papers that will be presented by RTC students:

“Will U HI R Me?: Considering professionalism in digital environments”
Rebecca Miner, Michigan Technological University

“Green, Red, Blue, Yellow, Green: Color Tools for the Writing Classroom”
Joel Beatty, Michigan Technological University

“Understanding Buzzfeed.com: Exploring the Practical and Theoretical Implications of Digital News”
Thomas Adolphs, Michigan Technological University

“Content Management and Communication in the Composition Classroom”
Elsa Roberts, Michigan Technological University

RTC Graduate Students Win Awards

Three PhD students in the RTC program have been recognized for distinctive accomplishments recently:

Wincharles Coker
Wincharles Coker

Wincharles Coker’s essay, ” Media Culture and Television News: A Review of Five Recent Books and their Implications for Future Research” (published October 2013) has been selected as the Best Article of the Year for 2013 by the International Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

Gary Kaunonen
Gary Kaunonen

Gary Kaunonen was awarded a Michigan Tech Doctoral “Finishing Fellowship” for the fall semester. This competitive fellowship recognizes outstanding PhD candidates by providing financial support as the finish writing their dissertations.

Isidore Dorpenyo
Isidore Dorpenyo

Isidore Dorpinyo was chosen as the second place winner for the 2014 CPTSC/Bedford St. Martin’s Diversity Scholarship. The award carries a $500 scholarship to assist the recipient with expenses attending the annual conference at Colorado Springs this September.

Creating a Home (Far, Far) Away from Home

Especially in the harsh and seemingly endless winter months, getting acclimated to the Houghton environment (as a whole) can be a difficult task, especially if you hail from a place where the culture vastly differs from the one that is here. Coming from Queens, New York, a 30-minute F-train ride away from Times Square, my arrival to Houghton and most of my first year were spent trying to figure out how I could make this place, and my time pursuing my Master’s as comfortable and beneficial to my education as possible.While a challenging experience, I tried as hard as I could to find and fit bits and pieces of my hobbies from New York into my schedule to fuel myself with the familiarity of home. Before the snow hit, I would attend the early morning yoga sessions in the SDC until I decided to invest in my own yoga mat so I could keep up with my practice in the event that I couldn’t drive and was snowed in; I became involved with the women’s rugby team at Michigan Tech and embraced the chance to keep my love for the sport alive. As I approach the end of my time as a Master’s candidate, I know that I may have to make the sacrifice and give up my commitment to one of  (if not both of) these hobbies in order to finish on-time but I also understand that I’ll need to find that balance again somewhere else; going to the KBC with friends and fellow graduate students,a large McDonald’s iced coffee, cooking a delicious meal, watching a good movie, picking up a good Netflix series or book (for fun, imagine!), Bananagrams, and FaceTiming with my girlfriend or friends from home are aspects of my life in Houghton that I strive to integrate into my lifestyle to ensure that the rough days less of a challenge. While several of my colleagues and friends enjoy hobbies ranging from photography and blogging to snowshoeing and broomball, I’ve found that there are places to make things feel like home here and provide that much-needed, occasional break from the work of being in graduate school and trying to find our place in the academic world.

sweet-bitter weather

Despite being absolutely freezing every winter here in Houghton, Michigan, I love the place. It has gorgeous summer which looks pretty much like a heaven during fall colors. When summer looms, my worries are gone; my anxieties no more exist. When I came here as a graduate student in RTC program, I was, however, rather petrified by the winter warnings unwittingly shared by my colleagues. The chilling cold would freeze my nose every time I would dare to walk. But, now I have learned how to enjoy winter. I don’t care about freezing winter because I can seize some moments of delights on varied festive occasions. Certainly, I don’t care about piles of snow beneath my boots because it is my dream school which offers supportive living in a warm congenial and home-like environment. Though relatively a very small program with faculty and staff of family-like friends, I find the program very interesting. It is a program that definitely considers your future, your interest, and your responsibility to fulfill as a citizen of the world.

The program offers students a solid grounding in the field. At the same time, because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, every student gets enough opportunity to explore the area of his/her own interest. Here, I find things absolutely different from my prior institution. You do not feel lonely as plenty of RTC graduate students are willing to meet you, to hear you. You feel at home away from home as soon as you begin to interact with teaching faculty and staff, friends and other members. Each professor provides students with guidance and advice on becoming professionally active. The focus on scholarly skills and the mentoring relationships with professors assures that students can acquire a professional competence in the area of their interest. Courses offered definitely serve the interest of every student. I have been enormously benefited from the multidisciplinary and global approach of teaching and the congenial learning environment.

expanding knowledge base through conferences

The RTC program gives you the opportunity to expand your knowledge pool. It is interesting the way professors encourage students to attend conferences. We are almost always not mere listeners at conferences we share what we have and what we are working on. Conferences also afford students the opportunity to meet scholars they have read about. I have had the opportunity to attend conferences. In my three years stay on campus, I have witnessed two conferences that the department has hosted. In both conferences I had the opportunity to listen to mentally challenging scholarship. I have also attended and presented at conferences in other institutions.

The atmosphere and student culture encourages you the student to share what you are working on with other people. You constantly hear graduate students discuss conferences they have attended or yet to attend and the preparations they are making towards yet to attend conferences. As a member of the RTC community, you will come to realize the importance of conferencing to your graduate education and beyond. The department does a good job mentoring and encouraging students to become well rounded, competitive academicians. And the good side of this is most of the students develop conference papers to well published articles.

student-centered professors

The RTC program at MTU is a wonderful place to pursue your academic laurels. I have had the opportunity to listen to renowned and student-centered faculty members. The first thing that captured my attention when I arrived was the faculty-student relation. I am thrilled about the fact that I can walk to any of the professors and talk about whatever problem there is with me. It is fun to discuss academic issues with people who are ready to listen and offer solutions to your numerous problems. You do not walk out of a professors’ office without solutions. My first semester on campus would have been a disaster but for the help of the professors. When the going was tough, when I struggled to understand the theories and concepts, they urged me on. They encouraged and challenged me. I have come very far and I can say the professors have helped in enormous ways.

The professors are interested in the well-being of students. This is captured in the zeal with which they patronize in graduate colloquiums. One would think that the colloquiums only provide a platform for graduate students to discuss their research with colleagues. It is not the case in our program. The professors show up in their numbers, ask questions and sometimes they coordinate the colloquiums. It is fun and exciting to see students’ and professors’ engage in intellectual discussions. The professors respect graduate students, they are ready to mentor us. The professors are a treasure!

Peers in the Grad Program – Enriched By Diversity

Undergraduate days are marked by classes, study sessions, and parties. Often, a lifelong friendship or two develops. While graduate days are marked by volumes and volumes of work, lifelong friendships as we knew them in our undergraduate studies seem less likely because, if we are not attempting to read 100 pages of text in one night, we are writing the next great 25-page Journal of Business and Technical Communication article. Nonetheless, peer relationships play an important role especially in a smaller, more intimate program like the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program at Michigan Technological University.

We come to Michigan Tech’s RTC program from very diverse backgrounds. Some of us studied or worked as technical communicators. Many of us did not; instead, we were educators, media relations specialists, linguists, or creative writers. We are an assortment of recent graduates to well-seasoned working professionals. It is this diversity that enriches our three (for MS students) or four (for PhD students) semesters of coursework. Graduate classes are discussion based, providing us with the opportunity to reflect on the required readings and their implications. In these discussions, our collective scope enhances each person’s theoretical understandings and philosophical thoughts. And, despite our differences, we develop a common language and a shared sense of humor.

Our diversity can be expressed through our coursework as well. The Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program allows us to choose niches of study most suited to our backgrounds and interests. So, for example, we can indulge in coursework concentrating on rhetorical theory, or highlighting the relationship between technical communication and technology, or examining the effects of communications on culture and vice versa. In this way, we are able to achieve our future ambitions that range from academic posts to industry positions. Now, we relate to each other as peers—assisting one another in our studies and helping each other laugh when the graduate road is a little rocky—and soon we will be one another’s colleagues.