Tag: Rhetoric Theory and Culture

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2023 Recipient – John Velat

I returned to Michigan Tech for graduate studies in 2000 and soon started working as a staff researcher for Michigan’s Local Technical Assistance Program and later director of the Eastern Tribal Technical Assistance Program, two federally sponsored transportation research and technology transfer programs in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. I eventually left Michigan Tech as an employee but have continued work on my dissertation while developing a successful freelance technical communicator career. For the last 22 years I juggled work and family while chipping away at a masters in Rhetoric and Technical Communication and PhD in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture. 

Working in transportation may seem like a long way from the humanities, but transportation is a truly human endeavor. Unfortunately, one impact of transportation systems on humans (and non-humans) is a staggering toll of injuries and lives lost due to motor vehicle crashes. In 2020, nearly 39,000 people were killed in crashes in the US, and over 1.3 million people die annually in traffic-related crashes worldwide. Those most affected in the US are young rural and tribal people: A young American Indian or Alaska Native is 2-5 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average American. Addressing this ongoing tragedy became my passion.

My research examines how we collect, analyze, and communicate risk, especially risk related to transportation. I have applied this research to help the most vulnerable populations—rural and tribal people in the US—understand transportation risk and safety in their own communities. By teaching people with few resources and knowledge how to evaluate and communicate risk in their own communities, local, non-experts can take steps to understand and mitigate risks from transportation and any other natural or anthropogenic causes. This work affected me so deeply that I even decided to become an EMT, firefighter, and EMT instructor so that I could directly apply this research and teach others how to understand and mitigate risk.

I am grateful to the many faculty and advisors who have worked with me in a decades-long education path at Michigan Tech, and especially thankful to my committee—Dr. Karla Kitalong, Dr. Andrew Fiss, Dr. Marika Seigel, and Dr. Melissa Baird—who have helped me stay committed to this work through a very difficult time for them and me in the past few years. I also thank the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for recognizing and supporting my unusual and drawn-out educational path with an award that will help me focus on completing my dissertation and degree. Last, but definitely not least, I thank my family for supporting me while I’ve always had too much on my plate! I look forward to continuing to learn and apply my education and research in our own community and to sharing this experience with others to help them live and thrive in communities large and small.

Laura Vidal-Chiesa Inducted Into AAC&U Future Leaders Society

Department of Humanities Ph.D. candidate Laura Vidal-Chiesa (rhetoric, theory, and culture) has been inducted into the American Association of Colleges and Universities Future Leaders Society. The honor was presented at the AAC&U Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, on Jan. 18-20.

According to AAC&U’s website: “The Inductees into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society share a profound commitment to high-quality teaching and learning, equity, and community engagement.” Membership includes access to “unique, cross-disciplinary opportunities for professional development, networking, and mentorship” as well as training and development resources for future educators.

Read more at the Humanities News, Features, and Other Updates blog.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2022 Recipient – Modupe Yusuf

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (RTC) program of the Department of Humanities. My research is situated at the intersection of discourse studies, technical communication and rhetoric of health and medicine. In my dissertation, I examine the discourses surrounding the adoption and implementation of ICT-driven health technologies (such as medical apps and electronic health records) with Nigeria as a case study while I draw broader implications for other low- and middle-income countries and contexts. 

My research contributes to understandings of health disparities as intersectional and layered between multiple socio-economic, political, cultural, and geo-locational contexts. I argue for a bottom-up approach to the development of ICT-driven health systems that thinks from the lives of situated users in LMICs instead of duplicating models which may not serve the communities for which they are designed in the long term. This research also contributes to understandings of technological models developing from Global South contexts and how these models might contribute to the development of health technologies for social justice work in healthcare systems in the Global North.

I am immensely grateful to the Graduate School and The Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for granting me the finishing fellowship. This award will enable me to focus on completing my dissertation as scheduled. I am also grateful to my co-advisors, Dr. Marika Seigel and Dr. Victoria Bergvall, and my committee member, Dr. Diane shoos for their support and mentorship.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2021 Recipient – Josh Chase

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture program in the Department of Humanities. I previously earned a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from St. Cloud State University, as well as undergraduate degrees in English literature and creative writing.

The Finishing Fellowship will allow me to continue my research on the rhetoric of conspiracy culture. My dissertation examines how conspiracy theories and anti-conspiracy discourses both draw from and shape public understandings of science and technology. I am especially interested in the rhetorical struggle for epistemic supremacy between conspiracy theorists and their detractors, as well as the emulation of scientific disciplinary practices by users of online conspiracy forums. My project seeks to better understand how terms like “conspiracy theorist,” “truther,” “debunker,” and “skeptic,” operate rhetorically to reify and mediate the boundaries between outlandish ideas and legitimated knowledge.

My time at Michigan Tech has allowed me to pursue interests in digital rhetoric and public understanding of science, to develop a critical and transdisciplinary pedagogy, and to refine my interests in writing program administration and writing center studies. I am grateful for the support of the Department of Humanities and the Graduate School. I am particularly thankful for my advisory committee—Dr. Abraham Romney, Dr. Marika Seigel, and Dr. Carlos Amador—whose mentorship and encouragement has been invaluable.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Spring 2021 Recipient – Gabrial Edzordzi Agbozo


I am currently a PhD candidate on the interdisciplinary Rhetoric, Theory and Culture program in the Department of Humanities. Previously I obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in English Linguistics and Language Acquisition from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, and a BA in English and Linguistics from the University of Ghana. My current research interests are located at the intersections of Technical Communication, Critical Discourse Studies, and Rhetoric. My dissertation contributes to international technical communication and technologies through analyzing how a locally developed geo-spatial technology was created to organize a digital addressing system in a Global South context. I demonstrate the consequences of such technological innovations and policies for developing countries. My work has been well received with at least seven awards for its importance in centering and theorizing technologies emerging from the complex transnational context. Additionally, I work within medical rhetoric, researching the rhetorical ethics of medical discourse, especially transnational Coronavirus vaccine trials, and how multinational pharmaceutical writing could be more audience-focused. I have developed a Multimodal Critical Discourse Pedagogy that emphasizes critical-rhetorical micro disciplinary and macro social contexts that address real-world exigencies and audiences beyond students’ familiar geographies. This Finishing Fellowship will help me totally concentrate on writing and revising my dissertation, defending it, and graduating as scheduled. I am grateful to the Michigan Tech Graduate School and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for this fellowship. I am also grateful to my advisor, Dr. Victoria L. Bergvall, for her guidance and support and to the Department of Humanities for supporting my graduate studies.

Nominee for MAGS Distinguished Thesis Award – Emily Simmons

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the nomination of two theses to the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 2020 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Competition. These theses represent the best in their discipline at Michigan Tech, and represented Michigan Tech in the regional competition.

Emily Simmons represents the field of Humanities.  She earned a Master of Science degree in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture in 2018.  Her thesis was entitled, “Accessing Library Space: Spatial Rhetorics from the U.S. to France and Back Again.” She was nominated by her advisor, Dr. Andrew Fiss. In his nomination, Dr. Fiss said that Emily’s work “…provided a framework for the development and implementation of a new evaluation tool that linked urban public libraries in Toulouse, France with those in the small, rural communities local to Michigan Tech.” Her work, “… strengthened both our opportunities for international, inter-university exchange and also the research profile of the Humanities department as a whole.”  Her work can be accessed on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Summer 2020 Recipient- Hua Wang

I am a fourth year PhD Candidate on the program of Rhetoric, Theory and Culture in Humanities Department. My research focuses on the rhetoric of healthcare and medicine and technical communication, particularly in the Chinese context. To be specific, I study the relationship between the healthcare and medicine rhetoric and Chinese culture and how they shape each other with the advancement of communication technologies. In my doctoral dissertation, by rhetorical analysis, I examine the expression of rhetorical agency in the 2017/2018 No. 1 childbirth and pregnancy commercial app named Babytree to see to what extent the app spreads the information and knowledge of pregnancy and mothering to empower its users (Chinese women); how the users write their embodied experience of pregnancy into the online narratives and stories to respond to China’s dominant and hegemonic healthcare and medical discourse and practice; how the users who, having been excluded from labor markets or having limited choices in labor markets due to getting pregnant, use technological affordances of social media to enter those markets, become professional communicators, and achieve their rhetorical agency economically. My study expands our understanding of the rhetoric of health and medicine in an international context and extends the field’s conceptions of rhetorical agency by exploring how rhetorical agency can be asserted economically in a non-capitalist, non-Western context. To put it another way, my study on rhetorical agency is considered on a more global scale than previous studies. At last, I am extremely grateful to the graduate school for this generous financial support. I also would like to express my gratitude to my advisor Dr. Marika Seigel and my committee members Dr. Robert Johnson and Dr. Sarah Bell for their enlightening and intellectual guidance.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Fall 2019 Recipient – Nancy Henaku

Nancy Henaku
Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

I am currently a doctoral candidate on the Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (RTC) program in the Department of Humanities. Generally, my research examines the intersections between discourse and socio-political processes with a specific emphasis on postcoloniality and transnationality. For my doctoral dissertation, I argue for a Global Southern perspective on women’s politics, suggesting that a serious engagement with postcolonial (African) women’s politics provides critical insights into the complexities of female political power and the role that language and rhetoric play in constructing this complexity. Besides suggesting a multitheoretic framework for unravelling the socio-discursive complexities that I identify in my discursive data, the dissertation also contributes to discussions in transnational feminist research by highlighting the connections between discourses on/about an African woman and discursive patterns identified from a broader transnational context. Because my doctoral project is itself an effort to recover an African woman’s political contributions, I have had to cover significant ground in order to highlight the complex issues in the texts examined. I am currently completing the final chapters of my dissertation and looking forward to my defense and graduation in Fall 2019. The Finishing Fellowship will therefore facilitate my work on the final sections of my dissertation. I am extremely grateful to the Michigan Tech Graduate School and the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for this generous financial support. I am also grateful to Dr. Victoria L. Bergvall—my advisor—for her support and intellectual guidance and to the Department of Humanities for supporting my academic endeavors since I started the PhD program.

Nominee for 2019 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award: Aranya Srijongjai

Aranya Srijongjai
Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

I received a PhD in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture in 2019 at Michigan Tech under the supervision of Dr. Karla Kitalong. My dissertation focused on digital rhetoric of cosmopolitanism of people from a marginalized culture as situated in the context of a transnational experience. Using cases of Thai students studying at Michigan Tech, my dissertation project investigated their digital practices as they engaged with the Other on social media in everyday life. The methodological framework of this project was designed by consolidating various concepts and perspectives of new cosmopolitanism and digital rhetoric. In its contributions, apart from theoretical and pedagogical implications, this project also helps to shape the idea of digital rhetoric of cosmopolitanism by proposing a definition and a model to explain its ontological dimension.

After graduation, I returned to Thailand and resumed the position of a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Three Students Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Rose Turner, Gabriela Shirkey and Helena Keller were named GRFP Fellows while Katelyn Kring received Honorable Mention.

Turner, from Berkley, Michigan, graduated from Michigan Tech in December with a bachelor’s in environmental engineering. She was the student speaker for Fall Commencement and is planning to pursue graduate studies in Environmental Engineering here at Michigan Tech

Katelyn Kring, from Portage, MI, graduated from Michigan Tech in December and is continuing as a first-year master’s student in Tech’s Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

Shirkey, from Manitou Beach, Michigan, graduated from Michigan Tech in the Fall of 2013 in scientific and technical communications  and is currently studying geography at Michigan State University.

Keller, from Elk River Minnesota, graduated from Tech in Spring 2014 with a degree in Chemistry. She is currently studying macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

THE NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.