Professor of English & Education
School of Education
April 1, 2013
Professor Committed to Teaching Writing and Instruction in Sexuality Studies
Recently, Professor Bre Garrett of the University of West Florida interviewed Professor Alexander for Composition Forum. Ms. Garrett offered the following assessment of Jonathan’s impact on composition studies:
Across almost two decades of work in the profession, Jonathan Alexander has contributed to vast conversations in the field of composition, and he has paved deliberate routes for cross-disciplinary studies that intersect sexuality, literacy, and technologies. Across a sea of publications directed toward diverse audiences, Jonathan has remained attentive to the relationship among bodies, poetic rhetorics, and platforms of public communication. Jonathan provides readers with a forward-looking perspective about the possibilities and openness of composition as a complex research field, yet he also reflects on the challenges and constraints, some self-imposed, that composition now faces as an established discipline. Jonathan accounts for his inaugural moment as a researcher in composition, recalling how he discovered a methodological space where he could remain committed to his ongoing interest in sexuality studies, and integrate, what was at the time, his emerging interest in computerized pedagogies. Jonathan’s entrance in the profession coincided with critical cultural moments that adhered to his scholastic goals: Harriet Malinowitz’s 1995 publication of Textual Orientations, the visibility of computers and composition as a recognized research field, and a pedagogical orientation toward the “social turn.” As a teacher and administrator, Jonathan frequently questions and assesses—and must account for—composition’s objects of study. He asks that as a field we continue asking the very question of what constitutes writing, and he calls for researchers to re-examine histories of actual composing practices. In his published work, both print texts and conference presentations, he experiments with form and poetic style, and he designs, often collaboratively, textual spaces that make explicit the place and performance of bodies in literate acts, bodies in rhetorical motion.
Jonathan’s work in writing studies has led him to found the UCI Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication, which offers tutoring services and workshops for undergraduate writers. (For more information, see the Center website at http://www.writingcenter.uci.edu/.)
A master pedagogue, Jonathan’s commitments to teaching writing are only matched by his commitment to instruction in sexuality studies. His co-authored book Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies, just released in a second edition in February, is a groundbreaking textbook, the first to offer students a thorough guide to LGBT/queer studies, including primary and critical readings across multiple fields and disciplines. In recognition of his work in sexuality studies, Jonathan also has been assigned to be chair of the UCI Department of Women’s Studies through June 2014.
Jonathan is the author or editor of six other books, including Literacy, Sexuality, Pedagogy: Theory and Practice for Composition Studies (2008) and Digital Youth: Emerging Literacies on the World Wide Web (2005). He has written articles in JAC, College Composition and Communication, Computers and Composition, Rhetoric Review, and WPA: Writing Program Administration, among many others, and he has served as the guest editor for special issues of Computers and Composition, Journal of Bisexuality, International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, and Reflections. Jonathan is a three-time recipient of the Ellen Nold Award for Best Articles in the field of Computers and Composition Studies. His books have been nominated for various awards, including the Lambda Literary Award. In 2011, he was awarded the Charles Moran Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of Computers and Writing Studies.
The complete interview with Professor Alexander, including videos in which he talks about his relationship to composition studies, is available at http://compositionforum.com/issue/24/jonathan-alexander-interview.php