Rhodes Appointed Chair of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

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Professor Jacqueline Rhodes has been appointed Chair of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC). 

Rhodes has served as Interim Chair of the Department since August 16, 2018. Before that, she was the Inaugural Director of the Consortium for Critical Diversity in a Digital Age Research (CEDAR), which advances transformative scholarship and creative activity at the intersections of self/society, digital/material, technology/culture rooted in the recognition that race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and other forms of difference are central to digitally engaged student learning in the 21st century. 

We each need to do good work and we each need to be kind. ‘Good work’ isn’t just professional work — sometimes it’s community-building work, or family work, or interpersonal work. I want to facilitate a space where ‘the whole person’ can interact with other whole people.

Dr. Jacqueline Rhodes

In 2017-18, Rhodes was an Academic Advancement Network (AAN) Leadership Fellow, for which she convened a task force to look at social justice initiatives in the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) curriculum. The goal of the group was to formulate learning goals, map social justice work already at play in the curriculum, suggest new work, and then, says Rhodes, “pay the entire process forward by encouraging development funding of social justice projects in CAL.”

“My administrative philosophy focuses on two essential ideas,” Rhodes said. “We each need to do good work and we each need to be kind. ‘Good work’ isn’t just professional work — sometimes it’s community-building work, or family work, or interpersonal work. I want to facilitate a space where ‘the whole person’ can interact with other whole people. In terms of kindness, I don’t mean being ‘nice’ or ‘civil.’ Sometimes the kindest thing one can do is say ‘no’ and set boundaries. I try to practice both good work and kindness as I collaborate within WRAC and beyond to move the Department forward.”

Scholarly Work

Having joined the Michigan State University faculty in fall 2016, Rhodes focuses her scholarly work on intersections of rhetoric, materiality, and technology, and has been published in a variety of venues, including College Composition and CommunicationJAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Computers and Composition, Enculturation, and Rhetoric Review. In January 2020, Rhodes became the editor of Rhetoric Society Quarterly, one of the top journals in the field of rhetoric and composition.

The author, co-author, or co-editor of six books, Rhodes was awarded two consecutive Lavender Rhetorics Awards for Excellence in Queer Scholarship at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) for her collaborations with Jonathan Alexander, Professor of English and Informatics in the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. The Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship recognizes work that best make queer interventions into the study of composition and rhetoric, work that rises to a high level of excellence in its originality, the significance of its pedagogical or theoretical contributions to the field, and its existing or potential influence. Rhodes’ book, On Multimodality, co-authored with Alexander, won both the 2015 CCCC Outstanding Book Award and the 2014 Computers & Composition Distinguished Book Award.

Public writing is a crucial point of contact between abstract theory and concrete action. It’s at that point of contact that WRAC faculty, staff, and students can do good work in the world.

Dr. Jacqueline Rhodes

Rhodes’s current project is a documentary film that focuses on the Furies, a lesbian separatist collective from the early 1970s. The film, partially funded by MSU’s Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) grant funding, is currently in post-production.

“As a teacher-scholar, I think a lot about public spheres, which I define as networked rhetorical spaces in which we talk and write to effect change in our communities,” Rhodes said. “Public writing is a crucial point of contact between abstract theory and concrete action. It’s at that point of contact that WRAC faculty, staff, and students can do good work in the world.” 

Prior to coming to MSU, Rhodes was a Professor of English at California State University, San Bernardino, where she served for two years as Associate Chair and then Acting Chair. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, and a B.A. in English from the University of Montana.

A Transformative Leader

As Chair of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Rhodes will provide leadership and serve as the chief representative for WRAC. She also will be responsible for educational, research, and service programs; budgetary matters; physical facilities; and personnel matters within the department.

Jackie has been a transformative leader in the College since joining us in 2016. As Interim Chair, she has championed a culture of inclusion in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures that is central to the mission of the College.

Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters

“Jackie has been a transformative leader in the College since joining us in 2016. As Interim Chair, she has championed a culture of inclusion in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures that is central to the mission of the College,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “I am thrilled that she has agreed to continue leading the Department as we navigate the challenges of the pandemic and work to create new opportunities for our students, staff, and faculty.”