Robinson, Polk, and Conklin Publish New Works

by Emily R C Staudt

As a program, we want to highlight the writing work Composition instructors do outside the classroom, in order to showcase the creative work and labors of faculty.  Read on to learn more about Composition instructors Michelle Conklin, Shantay Robinson, and Thomas Polk’s recent publications.

Thomas Polk Shantay Robinson Michelle Conklin
Thomas Polk Shantay Robinson Michelle Conklin

Thomas Polk drew on his experience as a graduate student who works as a Composition instructor and WAC administrator to co-author a recent piece in Xchanges.  In “Opportunity/Exploitation,” Tom and his coauthors (also graduate students) think through how graduate students are socialized into the field of WAC and how that socialization normalizes behaviors and expectations.  Ultimately, they ask graduate programs to recognize their roles in the potential transformation of future disciplinary practices: do they continue practices that might be unjust/exploitative, or do they start working toward more just practices and expectations?

Figure 2. Categories of contexts identified by faculty as influencing their decisions

Figure 2. Categories of contexts identified by faculty as influencing their decisions from Polk's WAC Journal article

He also has a recent piece published in the WAC Journal, “The Material Contexts of Writing Assignment Design,” which is based on interviews about writing assignments with faculty who teach writing-intensive courses at GMU.  Polk noticed that the context for decision-making around these assignments mattered: instructors were influenced by personal and institutional questions, more so than pedagogical ones.  “These findings should serve as a reminder,” he writes, “that the specific decisions faculty make are often part of a larger, more complex framework of deliberation that extends beyond a singular focus on the pedagogical” and that it’s worth asking instructors specifically about their decision-making processes (102).  This leads to questions of teacher agency and, as in his piece in the Xchanges, “advocating, securing, and maintaining fair labor conditions for faculty (and students)” (106).  Recently, Polk’s article was nominated to be included in the annual Best of the Journals in Rhetoric and Composition.

Cover image of International Review of African American Art

Cover of International Review of African American Art

Shantay Robinson was recently published in a recent issue of the International Review of African American Art, titled, "The Evolving Imagery of the Black Woman." Robinson wrote "A Movement on Canvas: How Sonya Clark's Representation Matters," an article is about mixed-media visual artist, Sonya Clark who featured hair in a series called "The Hair Craft Project." The article looks at the relevance of her work's focus to the Black community, especially Black women.  Robinson writes:

Black people internalize complex feelings about their natural hair. But a project like Clark's empowers black people with images of natural hair manipulated in ways that create linkages to an African past where hair meant something more than we allow it today. Clark emboldens the natural hair movement through The Hair Craft Project by highlighting an essential aspect of the movement -- the right to self-expression.

Shantay is also a regular contributor for Black Art in America, and her scholarly interests include visual rhetoric and multimodal composition.

The cover of Elements of Composition: Research, Rhetoric, and Writing

Michelle Conklin recently co-authored a First Year Composition textbook with Greg Butler, Elements of Composition: Research, Rhetoric, and Writing, published by Kendall Hunt.  The coauthors’ motivations were numerous: the lack of inexpensive textbooks, the ease of revising an eBook with feedback from teachers and students, the lack of content in other textbooks (leading Conklin to write chapters on research and rhetoric, as well as annotated bibliographies and literature reviews), and the need for more accessible features like a conversational tone and a read aloud feature.  Conklin and Butler plan to continue revising with feedback from their own teaching and others’, after using the textbook in their Composition courses this semester.


If you have published or edited a work recently, please send us a note—we’d love to feature you.