Stephanie J. West-Puckett

writing, teaching, studying digital writing and rhetorics

Research Statement

My research provides writing studies scholars and writing program practitioners critical, original theories and practices for transforming the teaching and assessing of writing in the classroom as well as in community literacy settings. Informed by cultural rhetorics, specifically indigenous, feminist and queer rhetorics, my research elevates the status of and shifts the conversation about the purpose and goals of writing instruction, particularly at the foundations level. As an activist-researcher committed to usability, accessibility and high-caliber production, I often publish collaborative scholarship in peer-reviewed open access platforms. Through these practices, I have established a national reputation for critiquing sedimented practices and rewriting fatalistic narratives about student writing and the failures of writing instruction and assessment.

Currently, I am completing revisions on the manuscript Failing Sideways: Queer Possibilities for Writing Assessment, co-authored with Dr. Nicole Caswell and Dr. William Banks. As the first book-length monograph to focus on the intersections among writing assessment, student meaning-making, and queer rhetorics/theories, Failing Sideways addresses the needs of writing teachers and those who administer different types of writing programs as well as writing assessment researchers and queer studies scholars. It offers a way to value and represent the research, theory, and practice of assessment among college personnel, while simultaneously valuing the ways assessment has been experienced by different stakeholders, most importantly students and teachers. Ultimately, we seek to resist simplistic representations of writing that do not fully capture the writing construct, and instead, propose a new queer methodology for writing assessment through four failure-oriented principles: 1) failure to succeed, 2) failure to be commodified, 3) failure to be reproduced, and 4) failure to be mechanized. These principles help us to imagine a more capacious construct representation that reflects the lived, embodied, affective parts of writing; to value the queer traces, intensities, and folds that writers work through to produce writing; and to reflect the entire self that manifests through writing.

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