Research

My research is located at the intersection of literacy studies, cross-cultural rhetoric, and transnationalism. My pedagogical research explores both translingual pedagogies in the US writing classroom and cross-cultural rhetoric in international settings. My community-based research examines immigrant literacy as it intersects with the rhetorics of nation-states. Throughout the projects described below, I examine the plurilingual and cross-cultural dimensions of writing and the power structures that seek to manage and regulate writing practices, pedagogy, and research.

 

“Centering Transnational Work: A Study of Writing Practices in Tertiary Education in Romania, Nepal, India, and Colombia”- collaborative project funded by CCCC Research Grant, 2015-2016.

This collaborative study examines the discourses and writing pedagogies at specific institutions in four countries—Romania, Nepal, India, and Colombia—focusing on how national, geographical, and institutional contexts shape and transform writing research and pedagogies. Our research questions ask: What can we can and should we learn about writing instruction and research in our respective locations? How do international scholars in these sites engage global, transnational, and cross-cultural matters? What influences and traditions of writing impact writing pedagogy and scholarship? Qualitative data in the form interviews, curricular artifacts, and field notes have been collected from three locales (Nepal, India, and Romania) finalizing with stage with Colombia in February 2017. The findings and results of this study will be disseminated in the following ways: 1) a journal article to be first submitted to CCC and translated into multiple local languages of our research sites; 2) conference presentations: Writing Research Across Borders, February 2017 in Colombia and CCCC, March 2017 (acceptance confirmed); 3) op-ed articles that would engage a broader audience, beyond the academic sphere; and 4) open repository of selected data to serve as a resource for writing scholars and the public interested in transnational issues.

 

“Plurality or Standardization? Transnational Writing Partnerships in the European Union.”—current work based on a data segment from the larger collaborative project; data collection completed

“Plurality or Standardization? Transnational Writing Partnerships in the European Union” addresses the complexity of cross-cultural and cross-institutional partnerships of writing instruction and research in Romania as an European Union (EU) member. The project is guided by the following questions: How are transnational partnerships and scholarly conversations cultivated? How do they change local practices in the countries involved? Most importantly, what challenges or obstacles do these partnerships face? Against the backdrop of the Bologna Process and its push toward standardization (Chitez & Kruse, 2012), I juxtapose the ways in which writing scholars acknowledge differences in national, cultural, and linguistic contexts in practice. In this essay, I examine cross-national partnerships and collaborations as a means of cultivating plurality. Although writing scholarship in Europe seems to lag behind the US composition work in certain areas (Kruse, 2015), the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW) has been committed to partnerships and cross-cultural work  (Kearns & Turner, 2015), whereas the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) remains rather US-centric. In this intermix of cross-cultural partnerships and EU’s push for standardization, I examine how Romania negotiates power structures in these cross-national research partnership and how it interlaces old traditions of writing with new influences.

 

“The Politics of Co-Brokering: Alliance and Affinity in Critical Times”– Revise and resubmit to CCC. Deadline: January 5, 2017. (full manuscript completed)

As the field of rhetoric and composition grapples with strategies and actions to become engaged and relevant with the public discourse, new concepts are needed to capture complex political and economic realities. This article proposes immigration discourse as a critical site of analysis of the “new national discourse” (Hesford) emergent in times of economic and political instability, based on qualitative data gathered from new immigrants who have arrived in the US since 2000. I center my analysis on a group of Eastern European college students, aspiring US citizens, who have been labeled economic immigrants due to their motive for emigration; most of them arrived in the US with a Work & Travel program designated for college students to obtain temporary employment but which later became a stepping stone toward citizenship. I examine the economics of writing by following these marginalized Eastern Europeans’ production, circulation, and use of texts and their function in the global and local markets. Specifically, I propose the concept of “co-brokering,” a set of discursive tactics in creating, negotiating, and circulating texts to describe how immigrants use literacy based on alliances with other ethnic groups. Immigrants forge these alliances through affinities of ethnicity, language, or socioeconomic status. Co-brokering emerges as a mediation strategy of writers at the margins, in contexts of unequal power that implicate nation-states, individuals, and other stakeholders. Ultimately, this article unveils how writing at the margins is being discussed, produced, and circulate through various forms of brokering.

 

“Sites of Invention: The Literacy Memoir as a Multimodal and Translingual Genre” (research project—full manuscript completed)

The challenge facing educators and institutions to address the changing population in the First- Year Writing courses is real. Even public media acknowledge the increase of international students at US colleges and universities by a 40% in the last ten years (Haynie). Besides nationality and linguistic diversity, the FYW student body in the United States is highly diverse in socio-economic, ethnic, and racial background. We must ask how our curriculum can accommodate and be relevant to all of these students. In addressing this question, I propose a different move than David Bartholomae makes in his famous essay, “Inventing the University.” What do we writing instructors need to (re)invent, perhaps remake in our curriculum to allow change and create spaces where students and teachers meet to co-construct academic discourse? I argue that the multimodal literacy memoir can constitute such a hybrid rhetorical space where students can affirm their diverse experience through sound, image, and word. Building on this experience as real, reinvented authors, students can develop flexibility of expression in other discourses, including those valued in academia, and cultivate familiarity with a repertoire of  genres. This argument is based on analysis of FYW multimodal literacy memoirs at Barry University, a highly diverse private university in South Florida. Examining the themes, the multimodal resources, and genres that students choose, I show how these become the stepping grounds for other rhetorical knowledge.

 

Immigrants, Brokers, and Literacy as Affinity (monograph) Extended project (in-progress)

This book project examines the concept of literacy brokers—intermediaries who assist others with reading and writing—in the context of the transnational movements of people and texts. To account for the multiple roles of literacy brokers, I look at individual literate practices in various contexts such as schools, communities, workplace institutions, or nation-states. My data come from my dissertation, “‘Stories from Our People’: Immigrants, Brokers, and Literacy as Affinity.” In this ethnographic study, I examine the transnational literacy histories of Romanian immigrants who arrived in the US as political refugees or “economic immigrants.” Using qualitative data gathered from interviews and archival work, I argue that literacy brokers must be understood beyond their instrumental role as translators, scribes, and helpers with language issues, due to the significant emotional work they do through language. Specifically, literacy brokers use literacy as affinity—expressed through language of empathy, relationality, or personal experience. In doing so, literacy brokers perform critical negotiative work in the otherwise standardized discursive context of immigration, where applications and forms constrain individual rhetorical repertoires. One such literacy broker, Eugen, illustrates this mediation not only when he serves as a translator in the community, but also when he advocates for the cause of asylum seekers trapped in refugee camps in Europe. Using his literacy and social capital, Eugen approached visa-sponsoring organizations using “language of affinity”: “We pleaded our case. I read a few stories. I read a few letters that I received from people in the refugee camps. And I said, ‘Look, these are stories from our people. They escaped from Communist Romania. If we do not do the papers for them to come to the United States, they’ll be sent back to Romania, and they’ll be imprisoned.’” In the context of rapid global flows and expedited mobility, various dimensions of transnational literacy—social contexts, histories, and audiences—are lost, even if temporarily. Literacy brokers’ work of affinity, I argue, recaptures what has been lost and recontextualizes the mobile subject’s experience. Engaging social contexts both locally and transnationally, literacy as affinity offers a lens to reassess utilitarian forms of writing and learning.

 

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