Welcome, New Faculty

The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric gains five new faculty members this year: Richard Abel (Lecturer in Writing), Svetlana (Yana) Grushina (Lecturer in Speech), Sarah Bartos Smith (Lecturer in Writing), Steven Thompson (Lecturer in Writing), and Nicholas B. Van Kley (Lecturer in Writing and Interim Director of RWIT).

To help introduce them to our faculty and the College, we've asked them to answer a few brief questions.

Richard Abel

Richard Abel comes to the Institute with a background in scholarly book publishing and higher education. He helped inaugurate the Doctor of Arts in Leadership Studies Program at Franklin Pierce University, where he is Associate Professor. He has served as Director and Editor-in-Chief of University Press of New England at Dartmouth College and Director and Publisher of University Press of Mississippi. Celebrated authors he has published include Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Stephen Ambrose, Ernest Hebert, Yi-Fu Tuan, and Moira Crone. Abel received his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, where he taught humanities, American Studies, and English. He has also taught leadership studies, research writing, creative writing, editing and publishing, and been a researcher in the history of science and technology. He lives in Lebanon, NH, with his wife, Roberta Berner, Executive Director of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, and dogs Benny and Bella. Daughter Judy is advertising planning director in Durham, NC; son Danny (who completed his UNO degree in music at Dartmouth as a Katrina refugee) is a professional jazz/funk musician in New Orleans. 

What are your research interests?

My research interests have always been interdisciplinary. My early research explored the influence of scientific imagination on American novelists. More recently I’ve been drawn to how writing expresses and embodies transformational change, and leadership influences the literary arts. 

How do your research interests inform your teaching in the writing classroom?

I’m a product of my training, professional experiences and interests. I want to share my excitement about how effective writing can connect writers and readers and how written communication can create change. Good writing is clear thinking on paper. It isn’t easy even for accomplished writers. Writing can clarify ideas for author and reader alike. When it fails it can be because the author wrote for the wrong audience, or told them too much or too little, used poor organization, poor examples, or faulty logic. When it succeeds it can transform the understanding of writer and readers alike. 

Please share an interesting fact about yourself.

I am running for election this fall to the New Hampshire State House of Representatives (Grafton District 13) in Lebanon. 

As you prepare to work with us, what are you most looking forward to?

I am eager to work with students in my section, to get to know them and their interests, and, I hope, to help them find ways to use research-based writing to explore their interests. I look forward to learning from colleagues as part of what appears to be a very well thought-out program of writing instruction.  

Yana V. Grushina

Although Svetlana is my legal first name, by happy coincidence of my mother’s whim I have always been Yana, a much less common name in the Soviet Union that was my birthplace. I spent four blissful childhood years in Mozambique, to then face the Moscow winters, destined to become one of apparently many Russians who are not overly fond of the cold (notwithstanding an enduring tender affection for cozy sweaters). I first came to the U.S. as an exchange student at the age of 15 and have stayed on since in pursuit of something(s) like happiness – a pursuit fueled by curiosity about the world “here” and beyond, and all of us in it. This curiosity has been channeled into academic study, culminating in a Ph.D. from the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University (2011). I have worked at non-profit and corporate organizations in the U.S. and Russia and have taught and conducted research at academic institutions in the U.S., Russia, Australia, and Germany. I am passionate about research as well as teaching and have an affinity for theory-building.

What are your research interests?

My academic background is rooted in the study of organizational and cross-cultural communication through the lens of language and social interaction. At a broad level, this reflects an overarching interest in how people do things with words. My work draws on the perspective of communication design, which provides conceptual and methodological guidance for revealing the strategic nature of everyday communication practice, analyzing the affordances and constraints of various communication tools, and using discourse analysis, ethnographic, and grounded theory approaches to understand how people could and do manipulate their interactional spaces. Much of my work has been conducted in cross-cultural organizational contexts – from my dissertation’s analysis of global discourse on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the 2-year postdoc as part of a research team at the University of Western Australia, where we investigated work of global organizational communities of practice. I have also been exploring how people are co-designing new interactive spaces in the digital world; this interest has been manifested in the study of transmedia storytelling and social media use.

How do your research interests inform your teaching in the speech classroom?

The study of speech is a fundamental building block of the communication discipline, and for me the study of rhetoric has been inextricably linked with study of language and social interaction. As a teacher of speech with a background in social science and rhetoric studies, I draw on the fields of communication and microsociology to provide students with theory and examples that help them become more observant speakers and listeners, help them learn how to use themselves and others as sources of knowledge. I also push students’ thinking about “what is good public speaking?” by encouraging them to consider all the different ways that people publicly speak today: through oratory, but also through visual rhetoric and social media. My research experience in different countries provides me with an abundance of examples, while also drawing upon best practices in teaching that I have gained and developed at various countries’ educational institutions (e.g., U.S., Australia, Germany).

Please share an interesting fact about yourself.

I have lived for more than two years on four of the world’s continents, including Australia (Perth, WA), where I was fortunate to have been a member of a beautiful crew on a sailboat named Hejira. We became the S97 class WA State Champions in 2013. I hold this memory always close.

As you prepare to work with us, what are you most looking forward to?

I most look forward to engaging with the Dartmouth community “with all my heart,” as Confucius is said to have advised people to do when going to any new place. I am excited to concentrate my academic, professional, and life experience into an engine that would turbo power my ambition to make each class an intensive and enjoyable learning experience for all involved.

Sarah Bartos Smith

Sarah Bartos Smith earned her Ph.D. in Biology from Portland State University in 2008. For her doctoral research, she investigated how factors associated with urbanization affect bird populations in Portland, Oregon. Sarah was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Dartmouth and is excited to join the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric this year, where she will be teaching Writing 5 and the inaugural Class of '62 Scientific Writing course. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two young children.

What are your research interests?

I am interested in the ways organisms adapt to environmental change. My doctoral research looked at how human use of urban natural areas affected the behavior and demography of birds. I studied bird populations in the field, and also did genetic analysis of mating behavior to evaluate the more subtle ways that birds may be influenced by environmental factors.

How do your research interests inform your teaching in the writing classroom?

When I was conducting field work in urban parks, I often had to explain myself to park users and local residents who were curious as to what I was doing and sometimes initially resistant to my doing research in their backyard. This experience sparked my interest in learning effective ways to speak and write about my work. I began to realize that scientists could benefit greatly from learning how to be writers – not only to communicate with non-scientists but also to more successfully relate their work and its significance to the scientific community. Although I am a scientist, my primary focus in my courses this year is to help students build a “writing toolbox” that will benefit them regardless of what discipline they ultimately choose to pursue.

Please share an interesting fact about yourself.

Knitting and other fiber arts have long been an important part of my life – a creative outlet that has helped me through some of the stress of college and graduate school. One of my newer hobbies is metalwork, and I am happy to have a couple pieces of jewelry I made in a student show at the Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen gallery this October.

As you prepare to work with us, what are you most looking forward to?

I am most excited about being a mentor to my Writing 5 students as they enter the college community, and to see their writing and thinking mature throughout the year.

Steven Thompson

Steve ThompsonI hold a PhD in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design from Clemson University, an MS in Media Arts and Science from Indiana University, and three undergraduate degrees from Penn State, including a minor certificate in engineering. I  have taught at Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, and Clemson University in the past. I am on the Board of Academic Editors at PeerJ, and published a reference book as editor, Global Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies, in 2014. I will be teaching the inaugural Class of '62 Scientific Writing course.

What are your research interests?

Internet phenomena, especially the effects of new media, media and information literacies, emerging technologies, and digital media icons such as cybersemiotics, or iconetics. I published quantitative research on Internet addiction and dependency in 1996, presented my iconetics theory on agency of online image instantiations as digital subscripts of artificial intelligence at University of Basel in 2009, and was closing academic panel plenary speaker at UNESCO's First International Forum on Media and Information Literacy in Morocco in 2011. My research is focused on ethical issues related to moving the Internet appliance into physical bodies. 

How do your research interests inform your teaching in the writing classroom?

New media literacies are important for understanding how and why one should write rhetorically in the disciplines in the digital age. My interdisciplinary background and professional experience--writing for the news industry, on corporate technical projects, and in academic venues--allow me to facilitate students in exploring critical thinking perspectives and rhetorical tools for their diverse academic writing tasks. 

Please share an interesting fact about yourself.

I have been a professional actor, advertising executive, artist, broadcaster, designer, editor, entrepreneur, journalist, model, professor, and researcher. Since 2013, fashion umbrellas with my fractal design prints licensed to Galleria Enterprises, Inc. have been sold internationally with my aSTi designer moniker.

As you prepare to work with us, what are you most looking forward to?

It would be the freshness of having the Dartmouth experience alongside an incoming class of fellow newbies.

Nicholas B. Van Kley

Nick Van KleyI am a "Yooper"; that is, I hail from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ("U.P." --> "Yooper"), where I grew up in an even colder and snowier environment than fair Hanover. After finishing a Bachelors in 2005 at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, I moved east to attend graduate school at Brandeis University. I completed my PhD in English at Brandeis in 2013, focusing on post-civil-war American fiction. Along the way and since, I've been teaching and thinking about writing at Brandeis and Bentley Universities and administering features of the Brandeis Writing Program. I come to Dartmouth after a year of work as the Assistant Director of University Writing at Brandeis, where I also directed the Writing Center.

What are your research interests?

Like some others in the field, I serendipitously fell sideways into rhetoric and composition from a Ph.D. program in Literature. My research interests lie in both fields as a result. I continue to work on a long project examining the relationship between early sociology and American fiction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I'm interested in the relationship between American letters and the sciences and in American social fiction more broadly. As a writing teacher and a tutoring center administrator, I am especially interested in writing centers, the writing tutorial as a site of learning, and the student experience of disciplines in writing classrooms. 

How do your research interests inform your teaching in the writing classroom?

 Much of my research examines the shared footing of apparently distinct discourses within a particular historical moment. I think that the fundamental project of recontextualizing discourse so foundational for my writing influences many of my course designs and assignments. In almost every class, I ask my students to extract ideas from one context and apply them to a seemingly distinct field or object. These recontextualizations often cross disciplinary lines, lines of ascribed cultural value, or generic lines. I hope this project helps students develop some complex abilities, including the capacity to identify the assumptions and questions that structure the unfamiliar rhetorical situations they encounter, the ability to responsibly and creatively create knowledge by bridging gaps between critical conversations, and the capacity to shift between rhetorical conventions when new contexts require it. 

Please share an interesting fact about yourself.

I've had quite a few interesting jobs before landing in the academy, including working as a Bar Back for "the world's largest biker bar," The Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota, during the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The bar in question has since been featured in a reality TV show on TruTV. I do not recommend watching. 

As you prepare to work with us, what are you most looking forward to?

I've already been impressed by the rich thinking about pedagogy that happens at the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, and my exploration of our website has already changed my thinking and practice in some ways. As an interim member of the institute, I'm deeply excited about this chance to interrogate my current approaches to teaching writing and to learn about the ways the Institute's members approach their scholarship.