Bio

Born and raised in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, of western North Carolina, my research and teaching as a rhetoric and writing scholar-teacher focus on issues of knowledge production, power, and place-based language and writing. I am interested in how and why texts circulate within particular localities, primarily in the American Mountain South, an unduly marginalized region composed of diverse people and places, also known as Appalachia.

As a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing, most of my research at Virginia Tech interrogates how systems of power and oppression intersect with the acts of writing, speaking, and communicating, all of which I deem as highly rhetorical, non-neutral activities. I believe that through understanding language, we can better understand culture and can help students critically think, read, and write.

My dissertation research focuses on a specific historic case study where local farmers and retired factory workers in western North Carolina successfully opposed and prevented the implementation of 14 catastrophic dams on the French Broad River, a project that would have required the displacement of more than 600 families, flooding of nearly 20,000 fertile agricultural acres, and 74 miles of stream channelization. For more on this research, please visit my digital archive, documentary, and oral history project entitled, “The Dam Fighters,” and linked here.

At Virginia Tech, I teach Business Writing and First-Year Writing, and am actively pursuing additional teaching opportunities both within my own department of English, across the University and through public programs.

As a second-year PhD student, schoolwork, teaching, and publishing take up a majority of my time. When I can branch out, however, I love playing and dancing to old time music, kayaking, and hiking in the Appalachian mountains.

I hope this site can help you become better acquainted with my professional work. If you would like to learn more, or possibly collaborate with me on research, please contact me at my Virginia Tech email address: spm@vt.edu