Introducing Whitney Lew James

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My path to digital rhetoric as a scholarly interest has been a long and winding one. I hand-coded my first website in high school. But, as a master’s student and then adjunct at Emerson College, I reserved digital and multimodal composing for my students. It wasn’t until I took a digital publishing course that I remembered my love for creating webtexts—since then producing and studying digital texts has become central to my both my research and teaching.

During my time at TCU, I’ve been supported to pursue my interests in digital rhetoric. Over two courses, I created a resource for teachers interested in pursuing a translingual, antiracist approach to language difference and writing assessment in the college classroom, called Translanguaging TCU. I also developed a timeline of women’s disability activism, based on my interests in disability studies, protest rhetorics, and public scholarship, for a non-academic audience. Finally, I’m serving as the Assistant Director of TCU’s Center for Digital Expression, where I work with students, faculty, and staff from across campus to incorporate digital composing, research, and teaching into their work. As these projects suggest, I see great potential for digital texts to develop communities within and across departments and to create connections between the academy and the public.

Still, it is equally important to recognize the limits of technology, some of which are engineered to further exclude marginalized groups. For me, Collin Gifford Brooke’s metaphor of technology as a lingua fracta remains helpful for thinking about the ways that technology connects us as well as divides us. Social media and news echo chambers, discriminatory search algorithms, and unequal distributions of technological resources are just some of the ways that the circulation of and access to digital texts are finite. One way to account for these limitations is to develop ethical and attentive digital rhetoric research methodologies, a topic I would love to pursue as the Graduate Fellow at the DRC.

I look forward to an exciting year of collaborating with members of the DRC and others interested in digital rhetoric! If you would like to collaborate or chat, feel free to reach out to me at w.l.james@tcu.edu or via Twitter at @whitney_tweets.

About Author(s)

Whitney Lew James is a PhD candidate in rhetoric and composition at Texas Christian University with research interests in translingual pedagogy, digital rhetoric, and disability studies.

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