Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Meet Phil Bratta
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Meet Phil Bratta

This is part of an ongoing series featuring the WRAC graduate students.


WRAC faculty and students come from a vast number of different backgrounds — that’s what makes our little slice of MSU so diverse and rich.

Phil Bratta is no exception.

“I’m a third-year Ph.D candidate who has lots of interests,” says Bratta. “What I will say is that the common threads throughout my work are cultural narratives, meaning making, power dynamics, subjectivity, and being.” At WRAC, Bratta has the freedom to explore what fascinates him. His teaching style also compliments these as he likes to facilitate thoughtful discussions among students about their social identities and values as they relate to other discourse communities.

“Even though I didn’t have the language to describe these [interests], I would say that they date back to my time working as a mechanic in Phoenix,” says Bratta. The rut of routine from working on cars and doing other odd jobs right out of high school gave him the push to get his Bachelor’s degree. He received a BA in Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago, and later went on to complete the Master’s program in English at University of Florida, Gainesville.

Between completing these two degrees, Bratta found his way back to manual labor, working for an Internet company installing equipment on water towers and grain elevators. When Bratta began to tire of that once more, he turned to teaching for the first time. Bratta moved to Arequipa, Peru to teach English as a Foreign Language for almost a year, and then returned to the States to teach English as a Second Language in San Diego. From Phoenix, to Chicago, to Peru and San Diego. His continued interest in cultural dynamics and studies, brought him to MSU.

When asked how he keeps up with all the work that comes with grad school, Bratta turns once again to his roots. “Most of my family were or are manual laborers: carpenters, concrete finishers and masons, plumbers, landscapers…” Coming from such a background has given Bratta an impeccable work ethic and the drive to take on any challenge. As he says, “Graduate school is definitely such hard work, but it’s also quite rewarding and pleasurable if you’re willing to be continually challenged.”

While he’s not grappling with life’s biggest questions, Bratta offers his time to the department by serving as a recruitment buddy and as recruitment co-chair for the graduate program. He also helped to create the Outreach Committee with The Writing Center @ MSU, not only working to develop the program and its objectives, but also engaging students from the community to help them plan writing events. And of course he didn’t stop there. Bratta participated in the first-ever Cultural Rhetorics Conference in 2014 and hopes to “see that conference continue to create space for faculty, students, artists, activists, and community members both locally and nationally to engage in meaningful and inclusive conversations and practices.”

We’re honored and humbled by the amazing work you do, Phil, and we thank you for contributing so positively to the WRAC community and beyond.