Rhetoric & Composition (English MA, PhD)

Student Profiles


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Krysta Banke

Krysta is a PhD student in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition. Her research interests include academic writing, writer motivation, pedagogy, and academic coaching. She is a full-time Academic Advisor in the Honors College, and taught English abroad prior to coming to USF. She loves to go dancing every weekend.

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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.

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Justiss Burry

My name is Justiss and I’m a first year graduate assistant in the English PhD program with a concentration in rhetoric & composition here at USF. I completed my MA in rhetoric and composition at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and my BA in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on English literature, philosophy, and cultural humanities at UCF. After completing my graduate degree in 2017, I taught first year writing courses at UCF up until this point.

Inasmuch as my research interests are concerned, I’m interested in myriad ideas that revolve around the rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) such as exploring rhetorical ideas of fitness, conceptions of navigating patient agency in the ecology of electronic medical records (EMRs), and undergraduate medical schools’ pedagogical approaches to rhetorical principles. I’m also becoming increasingly interested in how perceptions of fitness are often embodied and how these perceptions of corporeality are negotiated for those who are HIV positive and those who are HIV negative. Another point of interest is a space where my RHM research interests align with writing program administrators (WPA) work in both first year composition (FYC) and professional and technical communication (PTC). My goal throughout this program is to learn more about these research interests in order to identify and engage in scholarly conversations that help articulate my identity as a teacher-scholar. 

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Jessica Griffith

Jess earned her BA in English and Intercultural Studies from Southeastern University in 2016 and her MA in English with a focus on rhetoric and composition from USF in the summer of 2019. She is currently a PhD student in the English program with a concentration in rhetoric and composition, and also teaches first year composition and professional writing. Her research interests include technical communication, pedagogy, and how writing programs can better support their students and instructors.

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Carolyn Gubala

Carolyn is pursuing a PhD in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition and a focus in professional technical communication (PTC). Her prior experience includes a dozen years in the publishing industry, with seven years as a managing editor. While working on her MA at San Diego State University, she discovered an interest in rhetorical history and ancient rhetoric. Carolyn looks to blend her writing and editing expertise with ancient concepts to make arguments for PTC pedagogy. Additionally, her interests include fieldwide programmatic research. Recent teaching experience includes expository writing and business writing and she will teach editing in Spring 2020. Carolyn also serves as a research assistant for the "Rhetoric of Health and Medicine."

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Kara Larson

Kara is a third year PhD student in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition. Her dissertation research uses Asao Inoue’s labor-based grading contracts in a translingual context. A former K-12 classroom teacher, her research interests include pedagogy, cultural and intersectional rhetorics, and second language writing.

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Marshall Martin

Greetings! I am a rhetoric and composition PhD student and a graduate teaching assistant in the First Year Composition Program here at USF. I received both my BA in philosophy and MA in English from Slippery Rock University in my home state of Pennsylvania. The academic disciplines I was a part of during my undergraduate and early graduate studies led me directly to the sub-discipline of rhetoric and composition. During my MA program, I served as a graduate assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, where I obtained invaluable administrative knowledge and experience. My research interests include writing program and institutional administration, labor conditions within English studies, attention and screen time management, and composition theory. I enjoy trying new cuisines, being with my family and friends, and traveling whenever I get the chance.

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Yulia Nekrashevich

Hello there. I am a PhD student studying rhetoric and composition. I graduated from Barry University with a bachelor’s in professional writing and received my master’s in rhetoric here at USF.

I am mainly interested in Mikhail Bakhtin’s writings on dialogue and the Carnivalesque. Previously, I did research on the Carnival and how it changes cultural hegemony. I am now studying the rhetoric of queer theory and applying my knowledge and skills into this area of focus, with the goal of learning and using methods that challenge social norms.

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Adam Phillips

Adam is from Northeast Ohio and received his BA in English from Youngstown State University in 2010. He further received his MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition from Florida Atlantic University in 2015 and began his PhD program in English (rhetoric and composition) at USF in the fall of 2017. His research interests include digital rhetoric, composition theory and research, and multimodal composition. Adam serves as the digital learning liaison for the First Year Composition Program and is researching how digital rhetorical assemblages within FYC affect student learning outcomes.

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Joshua Rea

Joshua Rea is currently a PhD candidate in the English program with a concentration in rhetoric and composition 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.

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Kaelah Scheff

My name is Kaelah Scheff and I’m gratified to join the USF’s English department as a graduate assistant in the English program with a concentration in rhetoric and composition. I am originally from Jacksonville, FL but moved to Boca Raton to major in linguistics at FAU. A year and a half later, I transferred to UF where I received my BA in both English and linguistics by 2017.

At USF, my plan of study will revolve around identity theory and composition studies. Specifically, my work focuses on discoursal writing within FYC programs. I plan to use my experiences here to prepare for doctoral study and a future career in academia. Amidst all the reading, you can find me noshing at local food joints, perusing antique shops, and watching horror and mind-bending thrillers.

Michelle Sonnenberg

Michelle Sonnenberg

Michelle Sonnenberg is a second year PhD student studying rhetoric and composition whose interests include the rhetoric of science, the anthropocene, and global climate change. Michelle received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. Her undergraduate degree is in geography and GIS with a focus on water resources. She earned a master of liberal arts from USF St. Petersburg campus focusing on American environmental nonfiction and climate change. At USF, Michelle intends to explore the relationships between humans, nonhumans, and our planet. She sees rhetoric as a tool to engage in effective communication for creating productive change in a time of climatic global unrest. She intends to spend her career exploring interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to rhetoric and the environment. 

On top of teaching and learning, Michelle enjoys exploring the great outdoors, traveling, rain, and the Appalachian Mountains. She is raising a band nerd and a gamer while corralling a dog and three cats. She hopes to include chickens again.

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Katie Walkup

Katie Lynn Walkup studies rhetoric of health and medicine, disability, and digital rhetoric. Her current research explores mental health literacy (MHL) in public discourse. Her dissertation asks how mental health legislation may stigmatize individuals who present with mental health concerns. This research seeks to counter stigma through the development of MHL interventions that examine medical knowledge and action.

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John Williams

John is new to the PhD English program, with a concentration in rhetoric and composition, but is no stranger to USF. He completed his undergraduate degree in English here at USF, then stayed to earn an MFA in creative writing. His MFA thesis work was a hybrid early reader children’s book with text, handwritten letters and comics. The focus of John’s PhD studies revolves around gentrification and urban renewal, as well as first year composition and program development. In addition to school, John and his partner have owned a real estate appraisal company for over 15 years, which helps inform his rhetorical studies.