woman sitting on floor with dog in her lap, brick wall behind them with guitar and firewood visible

Kate Birdsall

Associate Professor
Office: 264 Bessey Hall
Email: birdsal5@msu.edu
Skype: birdsall.kate
Website: www.katebirdsall.com

Research Areas

Empathy, Cultural Rhetorics, Digital Publishing, Creative Writing Pedagogy


Kate Birdsall joined the faculty in Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures in 2014. She is a rhetorician, a creative writer, and a teacher. Her current 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 maintains a strong interest in digital and analog publishing and is active in the Professional Writing program.

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


The Flats. Red Adept Press. 2017.

Articles, Book Chapters, & Short Fiction

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

Stuffy Time.” ROAR: Literature and Revolution by Feminist People.

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 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 491: The Past, Present, & Future of Book Publishing
WRA 490: Independent Study
WRA 480/481: Publication Management I & II/Ing Magazine
WRA 355: Publication Workshop: Writing for Publication
WRA 331: Writing in the Public Interest
WRA 101: Writing as Inquiry
AL 110: Writing (and) Civic Life
RCAH 111: Telling Stories, Building Communities
IAH 221c: Criminals and Crime Fighters
IAH 208: Punk Rock Politics: Youth Culture and Subversion

Research or Academic Affiliations 

Adams Academy Fellow, 2017–2018
Facilitator, STAF (MSU Writing Center), 2016–present

Social Media

Twitter: @KEBirdsall