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Workshop 10: Advancing Undergraduate Research in Rhetorical Studies

Workshop Leaders: Jenn Fishman and Maegan Parker Brooks

Workshop Leaders:

Jenn Fishman and Maegan Parker Brooks 

As undergraduate research (UR) becomes an increasingly prized high impact pedagogical practice—championed by institutions, sought after by students, and modeled with excellence by our colleagues across the curriculum—rhetorical studies has a great deal to contribute. Whether our students are going on to graduate work or the workplace, they stand to benefit from the experience of UR, which involves mentored project planning, data gathering and analysis, as well as presentation or publication. A growing body of scholarship indicates UR can help increase students’ investment in education, their selected area of study, and their institution in meaningful ways that promote not only retention and graduation, but also lasting knowledge, curiosity, and confidence. 

This workshop approaches UR with mentors in mind. It welcomes graduate students, faculty, staff, and affiliated community members who play any of the formal and informal roles that fall under the broad umbrella of UR mentorship. Our starting point: Both new and experienced mentors know well the many benefits of working with undergraduate researchers; they can also catalogue the time, effort, resources, and tremendous care effective mentorship involves. Further, mentors have important insights into the ways that institutional structures and infrastructure can work for and against UR as an accessible and sustainable educational movement.  This workshop offers mentors dedicated time and space to share collective wisdom, including practical knowledge and pressing questions, with the overarching goal of advancing UR in rhetorical studies. 

To that end, the workshop begins on Thursday afternoon with a series of locating conversations, which will invite participants to describe their experience with undergraduate research in relation to the sites where they work as well as the methods and methodologies they draw on for their work with undergraduate researchers. We will spend Friday working in small groups to address the following kinds of questions:

  • What does making UR more accessible on our campuses and within our professional organizations look like, and how do we do it?
  • What does making UR more sustainable on our campuses and within our professional organizations look like, and how do we do it?
  • How can and should UR embrace emerging research methods and methodologies, including those associated with digital scholarship, project- and lab-based work, as well as community-engaged scholarship?
  • As UR becomes more widespread in rhetorical studies, where and how should we establish guidelines and principles for meaningful UR practices? How can and should we chart impact? How can RSA facilitate UR growth?

Our aim is for working groups to be ambitious and to hold the kinds of robust conversations that help generate new ideas and resources. Saturday morning, small groups will report out and offer recommendations for next steps.   

Applicants should note: We will update our list of working questions in relation to personal statements from workshop participants (due 4/15/2019). These materials along with several common readings will circulate one month prior to the workshop, providing initial common ground for our group. We welcome inquiries and will be glad to hear from you via email: and

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