Current Students-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Richard Branscomb

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: rbransco@andrew.cmu.edu


Laura Brunner McCann

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: lmccann@andrew.cmu.edu


Ana Cooke

Ana Cooke

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: acooke@andrew.cmu.edu

I’m interested in how networked online discourse inflects both public discourse and writing pedagogy, particularly in collaborative environments, and in the implications of online discourse for our theories of agency, genre, and circulation. For example, my dissertation investigates how genre enactment and public discursive uptake unfold over time in open collaborations; I trace diachronic shifts in the global warming-related Wikipedia articles as a way of seeing how genre inflects writing practices over time and across socio-technical systems.

I’m also interested in how we can best bolster students’ agency as learners across a range of contexts; for example, my current projects consider the role of reflection in fostering learning transfer, and also consider how students conceive of and enact intellectual risk in writing.

I hold a B.A. in English from Reed College and an M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon; prior to coming to CMU, I taught ESL writing to adults and worked as a professional textbook editor. 


Emily Ferris

Emily Ferris

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: eferris@andrew.cmu.edu

In my work, I ask how marginalized persons (particularly those with disabilities) advocate for themselves in public forums and represent themselves/are represented in interactions with institutions. I am motivated by the social concerns of how rhetoricians can support rhetors who lack institutional power, can incorporate experiential knowledge and informal strategies (such as ethos and aesthetics) into formal forums and models, and can mediate theory into meaningful practice for real-world deliberators. I am also motivated by related theoretical concerns, such as the possibility of a post-modern rhetorical agency; the methodological challenges of reception studies; the continued development of the phenomena of materiality and embodiment within the discipline; and the potential for the study of subaltern discourses and practices to inform, challenge, and expand rhetoric, particularly at moments of controversy and social change. I hold a BA in Professional Writing and an MA in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon.

Maggie Goss

Maggie Goss

Ph.D. Student

Email: mgoss@andrew.cmu.edu

I am interested in the ways public figures represent themselves to an audience and the ways in which those figures then come to be represented in the United States’ media. In consideration of discourse analysis and the notion of intertextuality, I am above all captivated by the heteroglossic nature of discourse as it travels through various networks of communication. Given this, my research is currently motivated by the following questions: In what ways is public speaking discourse recontextualized through the art of an utterance? Under what circumstances are certain discourse taken up by an audience, particularly the United States’ media, and in what ways does dialogism work to encourage the exigency and participation of texts with other texts? I hold a BA in English from The College of Wooster and an MA in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University.

Derek Handley

Derek Handley

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: dghandle@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my B.A. in English Arts from Hampton University and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. At CMU, my research interests revolve around African American rhetoric, rhetoric of place, and narrative theory. My research interests are rooted in making a difference in my community and discovering ways to translate theory into practice.

Alex Helberg

Alex Helberg

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: ahelberg@andrew.cmu.edu

The driving force behind my work in the field of rhetoric stems from what some might call a “generative dichotomy” between ideal normative theories of discursive practice (such as Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action) and the myriad accounts of how discursive interaction actually occurs in everyday life. To me, this dichotomy is definitively a generative one in that it allows us – as both analysts of discourse and participants in discourse – to achieve a deeper understanding of the ways in which we interpellate (and are interpellated by) language, rhetoric, and their many extensions.

In particular, I am interested in examining the ways activist and advocacy groups attempt to enact social change through linguistic practice. With my previous work, I have explored the rhetorical strategies latent in the responses of online activist groups to major events in the world, as well as the ways in which local public advocacy organizations circulate discourse and develop subversive terminologies to plant the seeds of social change.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Secondary English Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a Master of Arts in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University.


Ryan Mitchell

Ryan Mitchell

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: rmitchel@andrew.cmu.edu

Broadly, my work examines the fluidity of social meanings and categories that emerge when communities are caught in the throes of internal controversy. My thinking about controversy is guided by theories and methods taken from argument, narrative, and public sphere theory. I am motivated by an interest in how rhetors use community language and narrative to strengthen the believability of their arguments, establish communion with their audiences, and construct stable community identities. My current work attempts to outline the argumentative strategies enacted by gay men in the earliest years of the AIDS epidemic (1980-1984) as they negotiated private behaviors like sexual health and safety with public concerns such as prevention, medical research, and governmental funding. I hold a B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric from St. Edward’s University and an M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon.

CP Moreau

CP Moreau

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: cmoreau@andrew.cmu.edu

CP holds a B.A. in History and English from the University of Iowa, an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and an M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University. He has worked in a variety of writing centers and taught writing courses at Columbia University, New York University, Saint Joseph’s University, and Temple University, where he received an outstanding instructor award for work with ESL/ELL students. CP is working on problems associated with communicating expertise to non-expert audiences and the roles First Year Composition has in teaching rhetorical writing strategies to STEM students in particular.

Aleksandra Oletic

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: aoletic@andrew.cmu.edu


Will Penman

Will Penman

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: wpenman@andrew.cmu.edu

I study how people change over time when they have an "aspirational" rhetoric, which is any way of communicating that might not come naturally. For my dissertation, I'm working with white Christians volunteers from a church-led urban farm as they aspire to rhetorical practices that counter white privilege with servanthood, in-group attachment with hospitality, and assumptions of knowledgeableness with relationships. I also have academic interests in the modes of communication that people use, and how technology shapes these modes. I earned my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Florida, and my M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University. I teach introductory academic reading and writing skills, in general sections and sections specifically for multilingual students.

Calvin Pollak

Calvin Pollak

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: cpollak@andrew.cmu.edu

I earned a B.A. in Professional Writing and Philosophy from Carnegie Mellon, completing a senior honors thesis on wartime rhetoric. After graduation, I moved to Beijing, China, where I worked as an English teacher and copy editor for a few years. My current research is motivated especially by my stint in China, when I became fascinated by the speed and scale of changing international power dynamics. How is English, as perhaps the world's foremost "global language", increasingly becoming a site of contestation for competing geopolitical interests? Specifically, how is the US-China relationship being actively negotiated and constituted through English texts intended for global audiences? How (and why) are terror groups and other non-state actors using English-language online media to argue for violent and nonviolent resistance to the policies of predominantly English-speaking countries?

Finally, what are the implications of widespread digital surveillance for healthy dissent and public debate in liberal democracies? My work harnesses rhetorical analysis to interrogate the intersecting forces of neoliberal economic expansion, technological change, and geopolitical conflict.


Maria Poznahovska

Maria Poznahovska

Ph.D. Student

Email: mapoznah@andrew.cmu.edu


Hannah Ringler

Hannah Ringler

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: hringler@andrew.cmu.edu

My research broadly focuses on issues of national identity, and particularly on the ways this identity is created, shifted, and placed in relation to others. Largely, I focus on political discourse, looking at instances of group conflict and war. I am especially interested in how these identity processes are shaped by agency, grammar, and syntax. In addition, I am involved in research on technology-enhanced learning and classroom facilitation techniques. I received my B.A. in English from Texas A&M University, and my M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University.

Ryan Roderick

Ryan Roderick

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: rroderic@andrew.cmu.edu

My research focuses on the transfer of rhetorical knowledge—a process whereby individuals or groups adapt prior experiences, skills, and abilities to negotiate communications in new contexts. I am currently studying the role that metacognition plays in enabling students to cross boundaries of rhetorical expertise within the university. This work has implications for writing pedagogy, curricular design, and communication across the disciplines more generally. 

Susan Tanner

Susan Tanner

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: stanner@andrew.cmu.edu

My research focuses on legal rhetoric and moral philosophy, and includes analyses of political discourse, dialogic models of democracy, and Supreme Court decisions. To this end, I am interested in locating and examining the space within which rhetoric can and/or should operate in a legal communication. Additionally, I am interested in best practices for teaching Legal Research and Writing and Professional Writing. I studied English at Arizona State University, and earned my J.D. from Indiana University, Maurer School of Law.