ENC6720 Research Methods in Rhetoric & Composition

Douglas Walls – Spring 2013 – CNH 0401

Contact Info

Douglas Walls


twitter @wallsdouglas

Office Hours: M, 2:30 pm – 4:30pm or by appointment

Campus Location: CNH307C


You should come prepared to work with ideas; they do not have to be good ideas yet, at the ready.

Research methodology is an important area of rhetorical inquiry as to understand research methodologies is to understand how fields construct knowledge.

Research methodology is rhetorical. I want to encourage you to think of any methodology as a theory, a rhetorical theory. In addition, because research in rhetoric and composition is conducted using a variety of methodologies—“theoretical” and historiographic as well as empirical approaches—attention to how we make claims to knowledge and build theory in this field is particularly important and can be vexing. This class will focus on developing and inhabiting an empirical research stance that guides practices and political commitments.

In that regard, we will do the following:

  • learn to read and interpret empirical studies
  • learn the types or research designs common in studies of writing
  • examine methodological disputes about research
  • examine current methods of data collection and analysis
  • examine ethical and political issues associated with empirical
  • inquiry
  • practice study design and implementation

Required Texts

Clarke, Adele E. Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn. 1st ed. Sage Publications, Inc, 2005. Print.

Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print. Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies.

Lauer, Janice M., and J. William Asher. Composition Research: Empirical Designs. Oxford University Press, USA, 1988. Print.

McKee, Heidi A., and Danielle Nicole DeVoss, eds. Digital Writing Research: Technologies, Methodologies and Ethical Issues. Hampton Press, 2007. Print.

Attendance & Participation

Attendance and participation in this class are very important.

In this class, much of the work you will do requires you to present your ideas, interpretations, and writing in class. You may also be working in collaboration with your peers. For both of these reasons it is difficult or impossible to make up missed work.

You should make every effort to attend class. You should contact me prior to missing class by e-mail, phone, or otherwise. If your absence will affect your colleagues in class, you should notify them as well. Each day will be clearly outlined in the course schedule, so check there regularly so that you are prepared for class on any given day.

Rhetoric and Composition is a vast field that engages with a wide variety of methodologies that wax and wane in popularity. As such, listening and paying attention to how other’s use and think about the world essential to be a productive citizen within the discipline. Several types of activities will comprise the class:

  • discussing methodology
  • discussing methods and practices used in particular studies
  • presenting the work of others to the class in a thoughtful manner
  • discussing studies and their relation to methodological, ethical, and political issues
  • working with each other on course projects
  • presenting portions of individual course projects