Rhetoric and Composition MA & PhD

Student Profiles


Image of Spencer Bennington


Spencer Bennington

Spencer Todd Bennington is a Virginia transplant who long dreamed of the day when he could call Florida his home. Spencer's research interests include embodied and Eastern rhetorics and stem from his background in Tae Kwon Do. As a martial arts instructor and teacher of writing, Spencer believes true scholarship to be the iterative process of conditioning one's body, mind, and spirit to be more empathetic, disciplined, and aware. This belief in self-transformation inform his teaching philosophy as well as his intended dissertation research.








Peter Cannon (not pictured)

Peter Cannon is a librarian and a PhD student in Rhetoric & Composition at the University of South Florida. As an active member of the library community, Peter is dedicated to providing information services to underserved populations. His latest project created a full-service therapeutic library for a women's residential treatment center in Tampa, Florida using LSTA and IMLS grant money.  He has also published and presented extensively on the challenges of providing library services to underserved populations including a 2016 paper presented to SigDoc. His research interests include the rhetoric of health and medicine focusing on the use of bibliotherapy for addiction.

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Jessica Griffith

Jess is a second year MA student in Rhetoric & Composition. She earned her BA from Southeastern University and has a background in teaching English as a foreign language (TESOL). Her interests include composition, technical writing, pedagogy, and how technology can influence information literacy. She currently teaches Composition 1101, 1102, and (occasionally) Professional Writing.

For fun, she loves to travel as far as her grad school budget can afford to take her.



Image of Carolyn Gubala


Carolyn Gubala

I am a PhD student with a focus in Rhetoric and Composition. After spending more than a dozen years in publishing and seven years as a managing editor, it was time for a career change.  In 2013, I embarked on a rhetoric class at San Diego State University (SDSU) to explore the field.  Building on my blended background in journalism, editing, and professional writing, I quickly recognized how rhetorical training would help me further grow as a writer and began discovering my interests in classical rhetoric, professional writing, and pedagogy.

My research interests focus on re-envisioning ancient rhetoric for current discourse.  My master's thesis explored how the progymnasmata, an ancient set of exercises used to teach rhetoric from antiquity to the Renaissance, can be transformed and used in professional-writing instruction because the exercises teach values, ethics, and invention.  I am currently working on projects that reimagine the ancient concept of imitation.  At USF, I hope to learn techniques that will allow me to apply digital humanities methodologies to my research in classical rhetoric.

My teaching experience includes ENC 1101 and 1102 at USF, as well as Rhetoric and Writing Studies 100 and 200 at SDSU.  I have participated in assessment projects at SDSU and the University of Tampa.  Additionally, I worked at the SDSU writing center.  Next semester at USF, I will work as a graduate assistant on a new journal, the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, and will also teach ENC 3250: Professional Writing.

In my spare time, I like to explore restaurants, beaches, and museums with my husband, Noah, and our dog, Charlie.  I am passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and am a sucker for roadside-produce stands.

Image of Kara Larson


Kara Larson

Kara is a second year PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition. She completed her BA degree in Literature/Gender Studies from New College in Sarasota, the honors college for the state of Florida. In 2008, she graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching in English Education from USF and went on to work for Hillsborough County Public Schools. She spent five years as a classroom English Language Arts teacher to English Language Learners (ELLs) and three years as an ELL Specialist, all at the middle-school level. During that time, she also taught Developmental Writing at Hillsborough Community College. Inspired by her love of teaching at the community college, she returned to USF in the fall of 2017.

Kara hopes to combine her interests in composition and rhetoric with her passion for helping English Language Learners and other underserved or minority groups. As a graduate assistant, she teaches First-Year Composition and Professional Writing. Her research interests include pedagogy, professional and technical communication, second language writing, feminist, queer, and critical race theories. She is also the Event Coordinator for EGSA, the English Graduate Student Association.

Kara lives with her husband and a plentitude of cats on a former small orange grove in Ruskin, Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys books, movies, sci-fi, travel, and the beach, as well as doting on her two nieces.

Image of Yulia Nekrashevich


Yulia Nekrashevich

I am an MA student studying in Rhetoric and Composition. Some of my work has been published in the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta literary journal What oft Was Thought, and I have presented in the 2014 and 2016 Sigma Tau Delta conventions. I am interested in the works of Mikhail Bakhtin and am currently exploring how Bakhtin's carnivalesque can be used to challenge hegemony and social norms. In the meantime, I also teach first year composition.

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Adam Phillips

Adam received his BA in English from Youngstown State University in 2010 and his MA in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition from Florida Atlantic University in 2015. He began his PhD program in English (Rhetoric and Composition) at USF in the fall of 2017, and his research interests include composition history, theory, and pedagogy, as well as food & rhetoric and visual communication. Adam also serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Composition I and II, as well as Professional Writing.

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Joshua Rea

Joshua Rea is currently a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric and Composition program at USF. He obtained his Master's in English from the University of Louisville. He is currently working on his dissertation, "The Fiery Furnaces of Hell": The Rhetoric of Place in Youngstown, Ohio. Joshua's work, which has been presented at multiple conferences and published in several edited collections, focuses mainly on space and place theories and digital rhetorics.

Image of Tanya Zarlengo


Tanya Zarlengo

Tanya Zarlengo is a PhD candidate. Her research interests include writing program research and administration, methodology, and rhetoric of science. Her other interests include her dogs, her cat, and all the memes about dogs and cats.