It’s been ten years since WRAC graduated some of its first PhD students in Rhetoric and Writing. One of those students was Dr. Doug Eyman who, since graduation, has been quite busy building a robust career with research and teaching through his interest in digital rhetoric and his work in the Professional Writing and Rhetoric MA and Writing and Rhetoric PhD programs at George Mason University.
Before earning his PhD, Doug worked in IT (Information Technology) at Cape Fear Community College building websites and helping faculty understand and utilize technology. He then earned his master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. A few months before earning his MA, he attended the 1995 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), where he met the creators of Kairos: a Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, who shared his interest in digital rhetoric. His first peer-reviewed publications appeared in the first two issues of the journal, and he joined the journal as a section editor with issue 1.3. He first served as CoverWeb editor and then advanced to Editor in Chief in 2000; his current position with the journal is Senior Editor and Publisher. Between completing his MA and beginning the PhD, he stayed connected to the field by attending the CCCC and Computers and Writing conferences each year. Kairos: a Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy is now known as the longest continuously publishing scholarly multimedia journal in the field of writing studies, welcoming over 45,000 readers per month.
Today, Doug works at George Mason University as an Associate Professor of English, the Director of the MA Concentration in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and the Director of the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric. He also serves as the coordinator of the undergraduate concentration in Writing and Rhetoric, and the undergraduate minor in Professional Writing.
At GMU, Doug has taught a number of undergraduate, MA, and PhD courses that including advanced composition, web authoring and design, technical writing, digital rhetoric, and more. This semester, he is teaching the introduction to the undergraduate concentration in Writing and Rhetoric, an overview of writing studies. Doug opens the course with the highlights of the history of rhetoric, focusing on rhetorical theory and method as foundations of writing studies. Students then break into teams and research views of writing from different disciplinary perspectives, including the perspective of anthropologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, communication studies scholars, composition researchers, and more. The last third of the class is devoted to individual student projects. Doug is also teaching a graduate level course, Teaching Technical Writing, which gives students who complete it the opportunity to apply to teach the Technical and Professional Writing undergraduate course the following semester.
As a researcher, Doug studies the digital publication of research and scholarship and the interactions of rhetoric, design, and code in digital spaces, including video games as platforms of writing and digital rhetoric. He is currently working on two edited collections; the first is focused on undergraduate research, and the second on the writing and rhetoric of tabletop roleplaying games. Dr. Eyman is also working on a project that examines the connections between technical communication and translation studies via their operation in the development and production of video games.
Aside from research and teaching, Doug stays quite busy with his service work. Next year, he will chair the 2018 Computers and Writing Conference, which is partnering with the Center for History and New Media and the Game Designing Program at GMU. As they build the components of the conference, Doug plans to include a gaming strand, a series of both pre-conference and in-conference digital humanities workshops, and an undergraduate research symposium and competition -- lots of interesting and diverse activities for the conference that will undoubtedly keep him busy over the next six months.
Doug also served as a faculty member for KairosCamp!, an NEH Advanced Institute in the Digital Humanities hosted by Cheryl Ball at WVU, a role he will reprise next summer. KairosCamp! is a digital publishing institute for authors and editors that provides hands-on workshops “to help authors and editors build, edit, and maintain digital humanities projects [and] spread best practices in scholarly multimedia production through sustainable and collaborative publication outlets.” Cheryl Ball’s leadership has been instrumental in helping to make the camp more of a community than just learning technical skills, bringing in fifteen people from both outside and inside the field working on diverse projects. In the future, they plan to run some shorter versions of KairosCamp that focus on publishing and editing.
After having worked in the field for nearly a decade through his experience with Kairos, Dr. Eyman decided to earn his PhD in Rhetoric and Writing at MSU. “I was interested in how to build my own research agenda and how to shift from independent scholar to research faculty,” says Doug. “I chose MSU because of the excellent faculty and the possibilities inherent in being in the first cohort in a new program.” The R&W program helped to direct his research and understanding about professional writing and digital rhetoric. This lead to his current position at GMU and laid the groundwork for his monograph, Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice, parts of which were authored in WRA 805 - Rhetoric Theory and History. “I’m deeply indebted to all of my faculty mentors for both what I learned from them individually and for the character of the program they built, which
also heavily influenced the ways I conceptualized, helped develop, and now run the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric here at GMU,” says Doug. The R&W program helped Doug to seek learning from nearly everyone he encounters, even when it is unexpected. “I think openness to experience and willingness to listen to all voices was a critical lesson for me at the time.”
To current R&W students, Doug’s advice is to make the most of all the benefits the program and the university have to offer. “Trust the faculty and listen to their guidance. Take advantage of the speakers, events, activities, and formal learning experiences that abound at MSU—you likely won't experience such abundance any other time,” he says. Doug also recommends that students be confident in their abilities. He adds, “We all experience imposter syndrome sometimes—if you don’t have what it takes, you wouldn’t be where you are.”
Written by Lauren Utykanski
Photos provided by Doug Eyman
October 27th, 2017