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Meet WRAC’s Newest Professors!

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The WRAC department would like to formally introduce three of our newest professors: Dr. April Baker-Bell, Dr. Kate Birdsall, and Dr. Ben Lauren! To learn a little more about each of them, read the following introductions to learn about their teaching, their research, and more.

April Baker-Bell 
Professor  Baker-Bell was born and raised in Detroit, and from the third grade knew that she wanted to teach. She received her Bachelor’s in Education from Eastern Michigan April-Baker-Bell.300x300University in 2003, and stayed there to complete her master’s in Teaching of Writing, which is a blend English education, rhetoric, and composition.

Professor Baker-Bell has previously taught in Detroit Public Schools, Wayne State University, and Oakland Community College. This fall she taught English 302: Other People’s Englishes: A (Re)Introduction to the English Language.

“The course [ENG 302] is designed to expose students to stigmatized languages that are usually not deemed a language, such as African American Language (AAL), which is the focus of this class,” explains  Professor Baker-Bell.

Professor Baker-Bell’s obtained her PhD in Rhetoric and  Writing in May 2014 from Michigan State University. Professor Baker-Bell  is married with two children.

Kate Birdsall
Professor Birdsall received her bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in art and French, KateB_ProfilePicfrom Akron Ohio. Birdsall continued her education at Akron, and it was there that she earned her masters in English, with a certificate in rhetoric and composition. After Akron, Birdsall came to Michigan State University to obtain a PhD in English.

When asked why she decided to pursue a PhD, her answer was simple, “to sum up, I could not imagine doing anything else and that was the motivation.”

Professor Birdsall’s dissertation was on memoirs, and how this brand of writing isn’t always what it seems.

“I’m really interested in “authenticity.” It’s this word, in popular culture, that seems to be synonymous with factuality; but that’s not the case,” she said.

Besides researching the “Oprafication” of culture, Kate taught WRA 150, Evolution of American Thought, this past semester and is also interested in creative writing.

“Like a lot of people in this department, I have a lot of interests, and one thing I think I’m really good at is balancing teaching, and scholarship, and creative writing. And so, I feel like I can talk about all three of those things equally,” she said.

Ben Lauren
Professor Lauren‘s bachelor’s and masters are both in creative writing from Florida State IMG_0322University, however his first career was actually in music! He was the singer/songwriter for a band called No Address that was on Atlantic Records. They had a 2005 hits called “When I’m Gone” and the band was active from around 2000-2007.

“I had a long history in music that began in the 90s, but turned to education instead. A better fit for me, though the experiences managing that sort of work has certainly informed by interests today,” said Professor Ben.

After teaching as an instructor for some time, he realized that teaching wasn’t going to be enough. He was truly interested in research, which is what ultimately led him to get his PhD in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech. His main interests of research include project management, rhetorical theory, workplace environments, organizational communication, sound and sound design, and user experience. This semester, Professor Lauren taught Visual Rhetoric (WRA 360) and Introduction to Experience Architecture (AL 242). Next semester you can find him instructing WRA 360 again and Managing Experience Architecture Projects (AL 366).