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Alan Benson

3122 Collier Drive
Greensboro, NC 27403
336/255-2923

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Education

Ph.D., English. Concentration: Rhetoric and Composition. Exam topics: Rhetoric and composition, literary theory, online discourse. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, anticipated completion date May 2012.

Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2012.

M.A., English. Concentration: Teaching Composition. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2006.

B.S., Journalism. Boston University, 1992.

Institutes

Digital Media and Composition, Ohio State University, 2009.

Participated in intensive two-week workshop on multimodal composition and digital book creation using video and e-publishing tools.

Dissertation

Collaborative Composition and Writing Courses: The Virtual Problem of Context.

Committee: Nancy Myers (Director), Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater, Kelly Ritter.

Collaborative writing is often deployed by classroom teachers with little consideration of how the act of writing together conflicts with institutions' understanding of students as isolated minds. Using data from a yearlong ethnographic study and interviews with collaborating rhetoric and composition scholars, as well as an analysis of currently available collaborative software, I argue that ignoring context when asking students to collaborate in the classroom results in a simulacrum of collaboration that actually works against many of the liberatory claims found in the scholarship. My project argues that a refocused approach to collaboration as a way of being, rather than as a task to complete, alongside classroom investigations of the material realities of academic collaborative writing, promotes a pedagogy that helps students understand how the context in which they work shapes available working styles.

Research Interests

Digital rhetorics, online identity formation, ethnography, collaborative writing, writing center pedagogy, online writing center development and administration.

Grants and Fellowships

Hayes Fellowship, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, university-wide academic merit award with one-year non-service stipend, 2006.

Teaching/Tutoring Experience

Graduate Teaching Instructor, English Department, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007-present.

Courses taught:

English Composition I, English 101

English Composition II, English 102

These courses centered on a semester-long research project in which students craft ethnographic profiles local communities or subcultures. The projects in English Composition II included substantial spoken or audiovisual content.

English Composition I for Non-Native Speakers, English 101N

Students worked in small, first-language-diverse groups on multimodal projects exploring cultural gaps in understanding of their native countries by American students.

Introduction to Narrative, English 105

Students read 20th-century American short stories and novels as a means of exploring how authors use the elements of rhetoric to craft narrative arguments.

Artificial Life in Fact and Fiction, Freshman Seminar 115

Through narratives of the creation of artificial life in Anglo-American literature and current research into artificial intelligence, students argued ethical questions about the definition of life and the primacy of human intelligence.

Writing and Jamming Viral Culture, Residential College 102 and Freshman Seminar 115

Drawing upon the psychological conception of the meme and the Situationist détournement, students studied internet fads before creating their own multimodal, potentially viral, works. This course was taught in both residential and non-residential learning communities.

Writing Center Consultant, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2005-present.

Administration

Graduate Assistant Director, University Writing Center, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Fall 2008.

Assisted with training, scheduling, and assessing consultants; oversaw record-keeping; coordinated interactions with faculty; and managed data-mining of session statistics.

Graduate Teaching Intern, English 747 and English 324, English Department, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2006 and 2009.

Helped design course sessions, taught several sessions, assisted with assessment, and contributed to the design and creation of visual aids.

Online Writing Center Developer/Consultant, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2006-present.

Developed a platform for synchronous online consultations using standard instant messaging and document-sharing tools.

Research Experience

Graduate Research Assistant, The Anne Finch Digital Archive (library.uncg.edu/dp/annefinch/), The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Libraries, 2010-present.

Assisting with proofreading and TEI coding of poetry and musical scores as part of an NEH-funded critical edition.

Graduate Research Assistant, Curriculum and Instruction Department, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2004.

Collected data on pre-service student teacher readiness through classroom observations and one-on-one interviews.

Non-Academic Work Experience

Staff

Senior Information Developer, Symantec, Santa Monica, CA, 2001-2003.

Senior Writer, EarthLink, Pasadena, CA, 1997-2000.

Managing Editor, Editor in Chief ad interim, CitySearch, Research Triangle Park, NC, 1996-1997.

Copy Editor/Paginator, The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, 1995-1996.

Listings Coordinator/Events Editor and Page Designer, Worcester Phoenix, Worcester, MA, 1993-1995

Editor, Quality Matters, Greensboro, NC, 1992-1993.

Freelance

Contributing writer, Digital Planet, PETsMART.com, Z.com, and HealthAllies.com, Los Angeles, CA, 2000-2001.

Copy Editor/Writer, Stay Free! magazine, New York, NY, 1994-1999.

Reporter, Harte-Hanks Community Newspapers, Waltham, MA, 1994-1995.

Publications in progress

"Depoliticizing Electronic Discourse: Revaluing Contemporary Acts of Student Writing." With Sara Littlejohn and Jennifer Whitaker. Preparing for submission to College Composition and Communication.

Publications

In-house

"The Writing Center, Where Writers Meet," Technê Rhêtorikê: Techniques of Discourse for Writers and Speakers, 3rd ed., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 2011. 144-147.

"Researching Rhetorically," Technê Rhêtorikê: Techniques of Discourse for Writers and Speakers, 2nd and 3rd ed., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 2010. With Laurie Lyda. 112-117, 94-98.

Co-editor, Technê Rhêtorikê: Techniques of Discourse for Writers and Speakers (formerly Writing Matters), The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 2008-2010.

Non-academic

Contributing writer. Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. Eds. Carrie McLaren and Jason Torchinsky. New York: Faber and Faber. 2009.

Contributing writer, The Mac Web Server Book and The MacOS 8 Book, Ventana Media, Chapel Hill, NC, 1996, 1997.

Conferences

"Writing Centers Transcending Space:  New Theories of the Next-Gen Writing Center." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Southeast Writing Center Association, Richmond, KY. Feb. 2012.

 "Aligning Technology and Philosophy: A Theoretical and Practical Argument for Synchronous Delivery in Online Writing Centers." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Computers and Writing Conference, Ann Arbor, MI. May 2011.

"Meeting Writers When They Are: A Case for the Synchronous Writing Center." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Southeast Writing Center Association, Tuscaloosa, AL. Feb. 2011.

"Informal Online Discourse as a 'Home' Language: Writing Centers and the Politicized Space of E-Communications." Panel co-organizer and presenter. International Writing Centers Association/National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Conference, Baltimore, MD. Nov. 2010.

"Getting 'It' Down on Paper: Making a Program's Pedagogy Material." Panel presenter. WPA Conference, Philadelphia, PA. July 2010.

"Informal Online Discourse as a 'Home' Language: Theorizing and Re-Claiming the Demonized Space of Social Networking and Instant Messaging." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY, Mar. 2010.

"The Machine in the Ghost: Physical Embodiment and Internet Identity." Panel presenter. Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric/ International Society for the History of Rhetoric. Montreal, Canada, July 2009.

"Digital Discourse and Dialogue: Cultivating Vernacular Agency in Synchronous Online Consultations." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC, Feb. 2009.

"Rhetoricizing Online Writing Centers: A Roundtable Discussion on Using Language to Construct a New Subject Identity for Synchronous Online Writing Centers." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Conference on College Composition and Communication, New Orleans, LA, Mar. 2008.

"Training Consultants and Writers: Altering the Material Reality of Writing Center Work." Panel co-organizer and presenter. Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA, Feb. 2008.

"'Hey You': Writing Centers, Authority, and the Althusserian Hail." Panel co-organizer and presenter. National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, University of Michigan, Nov. 2006.

Workshops Led

"'Coming Clean': Understanding Literacy through Ideological Self-Revelation." Workshop co-organizer and presenter. Expanding Literacy Studies Graduate Student Conference, Ohio State University, Apr. 2009.

"From the Terrestrial to the Virtual:  Building a Pedagogical Writing Center Bridge." Workshop presenter. Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Francisco, CA, Mar. 2009.

Academic Web Development

Developer, OnlineWC/OWLSummit.com website. OnlineWC project. www.onlinewc.com. 2011.

Designer and developer, Communication Across the Curriculum website. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. www.uncg.edu/cac. 2010.

Designer and administrator, University Writing Center website and online writing center. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. www.uncg.edu/eng/writingcenter. 2005-present.

Computer Skills

Platforms

Mac OS, Windows, BSD UNIX and Linux.

Languages

HTML/HTML5, XML/TEI Lite, JavaScript (including jQuery), PHP, Perl, basic Python, basic SQL.

Applications

Experienced with a wide variety of word processing, page layout, Web development, online learning, course management, and HTML Help development programs, including Blackboard, WCOnline, MediaWiki, Drupal, Wordpress, Avacaster, Elluminate Live!, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Access, QuarkXPress, oXygen, BBEdit, FileMaker Pro, MySQL, eHelp RoboHelp, Quadralay WebWorks, and Adobe Photoshop, FrameMaker, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver.

Service

Committee Member, Information Literacy Committee, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Libraries, 2010-2011.

Collaborated with faculty, librarians, and graduate students as part of ongoing initiative to promote student and faculty information literacy on campus.

Graduate Student Representative, Communication Across the Curriculum Review Committee, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2010.

Provided feedback on the committee's response to a program review.

Graduate Student Member, Composition Committee, English Department, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2008-2009.

Contributed to the creation of new program-wide standards for Composition I and Composition II.

Board member, English Graduate Student Association, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2008-2009.

Served as liaison between faculty members and graduate community and assisted with the formation of UNCG's graduate English studies conference.

English Department Newsletter co-editor, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007-2009.

Created an Adobe InDesign template, assigned and managed writers and photographers, and designed the final publication.

Technology Coordinator, University Writing Center, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2006-present.

Maintain computers in the center and administer the center's website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Languages

German, basic speaking and reading

French, basic speaking

Professional Affliliations

Association of Internet Researchers

Conference on College Composition and Communication

Council of Writing Program Administrators

International Writing Centers Association

Modern Language Association

National Council of Teachers of English

Rhetoric Society of America

Southeastern Writing Center Association

Text Encoding Initiative

References