Current Students-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Amanda Berardi Tennant

Amanda Berardi Tennant

Email: aberardi@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my B.A. in English with a specialization in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University and my M.A. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon. My research focuses on matters of intercultural communication and public engagement. More specifically, I question how members of multicultural communities are drawn to public spaces to address common problems and build shared knowledge through discussion.  My research interests are driven by my own academic and professional experiences working with people of various cultural and economic backgrounds. I would like my research to contribute to an increased understanding of how opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue can be facilitated and how talking across difference can result in a more inclusive discussion of public issues.

Ana Cooke

Ana Cooke

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: acooke@andrew.cmu.edu

My work explores rhetorical, literate, and discursive practices in online environments, including the discourse of online communities, interactions in collaborative environments, and the uses of digital media for the development of reading and writing skills. I am interested both in how we theorize online interactions, particularly the implications of digital media for theories of genre and rhetorical agency, and also in the affordances and constraints of such environments for literacy and composition pedagogy. For example, in recent projects I have investigated how writers approach audience while annotating in a collaborative reading environment, and have analyzed the relationship between adoption of group discursive practices and network centrality in an online community. My current work traces the enactment of social and discursive norms in Wikipedia. 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.

Tim Dawson

Tim Dawson

Ph.D. Candidate, Rhetoric

Email: jtdawson@andrew.cmu.edu

I earned degrees in English and Theater from Slippery Rock University and an M.A. in Writing from DePaul University. My research focuses on the public work of rhetoric, involving university-community partnerships related to  community literacy, deliberative democracy, and the arts as civic engagement. In addition to my research, I am the founder of The Art of Democracy, a community engagement consultancy that works with citizens, community groups, and public officials to facilitate opportunities for informed and inclusive public engagement that engages difference as a resource for civic innovation. In Pittsburgh, I have worked with organizations such as the Kingsley Association, the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, and the Urban Green Growth Collaborative.

I have also worked with the Mayor's Office and various departments within the City of Pittsburgh to organize Deliberative Community Forums. Formerly, I was a program manager at Carnegie Mellon University's Program for Deliberative Democracy and the director of community outreach programs for Pittsburgh's Unseam'd Shakespeare Company. I regularly speak and conduct workshops at national and international conferences, including recent presentations at the American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment, Frontiers of Democracy, the International Conference on Arts in Society, and the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival. In the English Department I have taught 76-100 Reading and Writing in an Academic Context, 76-101 Interpretation and Argument, and 76-270 Writing in the Professions. For the Humanities Scholars Program, I designed and taught New Horizons in the Humanities: Performance Studies course (with Dr. Kristina Straub). For the School of Drama, I have taught Foundations of Drama I.


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.




Mary Glavan

Mary Glavan

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: mglavan@andrew.cmu.edu


Maggie Goss

Maggie Goss

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

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.

Jessica Harrell

Jessica Harrell

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: jbharrel@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my B.A. in English from Belmont University. While working toward my B.A., I studied abroad in Florence, Italy where I developed an interest in stories about place. During my time away from academia and through the year I completed my M.A. in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon, I have pursued interests in narrative, oral history, and the discourse surrounding urban renewal. My research currently focuses on how narratives of personal experience, primarily oral histories, become a valuable resource in the construction of collective memory.




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.


Justin Mando

Justin Mando

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: jmando@andrew.cmu.edu

I situate my work at the intersection of rhetoric of place, environmental rhetoric and public sphere theory by analyzing local-level environmental disputes with a focus on place as an argumentative resource. I am particularly interested in the concept of proximity, both in how physical distance affects discourse and how proximity can be created in discourse. For my methodological approach to these issues, I draw from traditions in rhetorical analysis and discourse analysis.

I have also been fortunate enough to teach in a variety of places and contexts; from Pittsburgh to Slovakia to Qatar and from university classrooms to multinational corporations to correctional facilities. At Carnegie Mellon, I have taught 76-101: Interpretation and Argument focusing on issues of urban development, 76-100: Reading and Writing in an Academic Context for non-native speakers of English and 76-386/786: Language and Culture. Prior to my time at Carnegie Mellon, I taught English as a Second Language. I hold a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Vermont and a M.A. in rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon.




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

My research is situated around the figure of the cyborg—a figure found at the intersection of technology, the body, and ethics. I take a rhetorical approach to this figure, examining how the cyborg functions persuasively in bioethical and human-enhancement debates. I hold 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. Prior to arriving in Pittsburgh, I worked in a variety of writing centers and taught writing courses at New York University, Columbia University, Saint Joseph’s University, and Temple University, where I received an outstanding instructor award for work with ESL/ELL students.


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, Rhetoric

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: rroderick@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.  


Garrett Stack

Garrett Stack

Ph.D. Student, Rhetoric

Email: gstack@andrew.cmu.edu

I received a B.A. in Journalism with an emphasis in Biology from Indiana University and a M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from San Diego State University. As a result of this varied educational background, my research interests lie in several directions. Currently, I am focusing on environmental rhetoric in all of its various forms and functions, but specifically the ways in which the language humans use to describe the natural world has changed (and continues to change) over time. As our day-to-day practices grow increasingly digital and removed from the natural world, this understanding becomes more vital rhetorically, as does the need to pass on sound environmentally-focused communicative practices. To me, these areas of study are important, and as environmental awareness and sustainability become increasingly exigent, so too will be the need for analysis in order to better understand our own social and environmental history, and how these ideologies have influenced and continue to affect our decisions for the future.


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.