Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Kate Birdsall
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Kate Birdsall

Assistant Professor

Office: 264 Bessey Hall

Email: birdsal5@msu.edu

Twitter: @KEBirdsall

Skype: birdsall.kate

Research Areas

Empathy, creative writing pedagogy, cultural rhetorics, creative nonfiction, feminisms, queer theories


Kate Birdsall joined the faculty in Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures in 2014. She is a cultural studies scholar, a creative writer, and a teacher. Her research centers on discourses of race, class, gender, sexuality, and health, and how those things are defined in popular media and in communities of all kinds.

She writes both short and long fiction, personal essays, and the occasional academic article. She loves unreliable narrators and might be a dilettante; she's definitely an existentialist.


Ph.D., Michigan State University (English): 2014
M.A., The University of Akron: 2009

Representative Work

Articles & Book Chapters:

“Titanium Tits.” Ed. Patricia Leavy. Privilege Through the Looking Glass. New York: Sense Publishers. Forthcoming 2017.

“Frenzied Representation and the Forbidden Image: 9/11’s Falling Man and the Unrepresentable.” Epiphany: Journal of Transdisciplinary Studies, 8.1. 2016.

“Wanting Our Selves: Writing and the Postsexual in New Media Contexts.” With Julie Drew. Ed. Sid Dobrin. Writing Posthumanism, Posthuman Writing. New York: Parlor. 2015.

“A Contradictory Assemblage of Self: James Frey, Creative Nonfiction, and the Empire of Oprah." JAC: A Journal of Culture, Rhetoric, and Politics, 33.1. 2014.

“Willis and the Antebellum Bachelor Narrative.” Sketches at Home and Abroad: A Critical Edition of Selections from the Writings of Nathaniel Parker Willis. Ed. Jon Miller et al. Akron: U of Akron P. 2010.

Recent and Planned Conference Presentations:

"Cultivating Creative Rhetorical Inquiry: Crafting Social Justice Through Poetry, Fiction, and Filmmaking." CCCC, Portland. 2017.

“21st Century Riot Grrrl: Digital Empathy and Activist Online Spaces.” Cultural Rhetorics Conference, East Lansing. 2016.

“Creating Mobile Communities.” Watson Conference, Lousiville. 2016.

“The Bane of Their Existence: Making Interdisciplinary Humanities Matter.” NeMLA Annual Conference, Hartford. 2016.

“It Happened by Accident: Gillian Flynn’s Unlikely Detectives.” NeMLA Annual Conference, Toronto. 2015

“Spectral Authenticity: the Diary in Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.” Invited Lecture. Michigan State University, Department of English. 21 Nov 2014.

“Gone City: The Specter of New York City in Gone Girl.” MMLA Annual Conference, Detroit. 2014

“‘A Ludicrous Fairy-Tale Ending’: Health, Wealth, and Bestselling Memoir in the Twenty-First Century." NeMLA Annual Conference, Harrisburg. 2014.

“’I Exaggerate’: Illusions of Authenticity in Memoirs that Lie.” MMLA Annual Conference, Milwaukee. 2013.

“Broken is Perfectly Normal: Mary Karr, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Secular Redemption, and Self-Help.” NeMLA Annual Conference, Boston. 2013.

Selected Courses Taught

WRA 480/481: Publication Management I & II/Ing Magazine
WRA 490: Independent Study
WRA 355: Publication Workshop: Writing for Publication
AL 110: Writing and Civic Life
WRA 150/101: Writing as Inquiry (both face-to-face and online versions)
WRA 140: Women in America
RCAH 111: Telling Stories, Building Communities
IAH 221c: Criminals and Crime Fighters (both face-to-face and online versions)