Current Projects

“Challenging Authority:  An Analysis of Federal Judicial References to Macbeth”

Traditionally, formalists understand legal authority as based on the nature and hierarchy of sources, with legal sources carrying the most authority.  Yet federal judges regularly (and increasingly) draw on nonlegal sources like Shakespeare’s Macbeth in their opinions.  How do judicial references to Macbeth challenge the ways we understand legal authority?

“What It Means for First-Year Writers to Engage with Sources”

When it comes to identifying and assessing student writers’ engagement with sources, as first-year writing (FYW) instructors we often “know it when we see it.”  Yet actually tracing and articulating the discursive moves that student writers make with respect to sources proves far more difficult.  This suggests a problem of understanding and of pedagogy: we need better means of making sense of and describing both how students are using/engaging with sources and how we read and recognize that work.  Informed by our participation in the Dartmouth Summer Seminar for Composition Research, a collaborator (Dr. Holly Middleton) and I are currently conducting a study that constructs a model for how students engage sources in writing and how instructors recognize that engagement as a valued quality of student writing.

“Writing Information Literacy in FYC: a Collaboration Among Faculty and Librarians” (first author on book chapter in Information Literacy – Not Just for Librarians: Issues in Assessment, Teaching, and Application. Eds. Barbara D’Angelo, Sandra Jamieson, Barry Maid, and Janice R. Walker (accepted))

This chapter reports on a collaborative study by faculty and librarians of how first-year composition students perceive research and the relationship between research and writing. Among its several contributions, the study highlights students’ increased emphasis on engaging sources over the course of a semester, noting the ways in which the material practices of students’ reading, notetaking, etc. contributed to their meaning making.