Woman with glasses and brown hair in a bun, wearing a sweater and smiling.

Kristin Arola

Associate Professor; Graduate Faculty
Karen L. Gillmor Endowed Associate Professor
Website: www.kristinarola.com

Research Areas

Multimodal Composition, Cultural Rhetorics, American Indian Studies, Environmental Rhetorics


Arola’s research and teaching focuses on composing as culturing. Specifically, she explores how the ways we write/design/make, as well as the ways we teach writing/designing/making, culture us into particular ways of being and particular sets of values. By looking to the relations between land, histories, and cultures, she considers how the words, designs, and images we compose evoke the past while opening up possible futures. To do this work, she brings together composition theory, making culture, digital rhetoric, environmental rhetoric, and cultural rhetoric.

Through her mother, she is a first-generation descendent of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians (bear clan). Along with her WRAC appointment, she is also an affiliate faculty member in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program, the Digital Humanities program, and the Center for Interdisciplinarity.


PhD., Michigan Technological University, 2006

B.A., University of Michigan, 1998

Representative Work


Arola, Kristin L. and Victor Villanueva. CrossTalk in Comp Theory. 4th Edition. National Council of Teachers of English, 2022. [in press]

Ball, Cheryl E., Jennifer Sheppard, and Kristin L. Arola. Writer/Designer: Making Multimodal Projects, 3rd Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2022.

Arola, Kristin L. and Anne Frances Wysocki, Eds. Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment). Utah State University Press, 2012.

Book Chapters

Arola, Kristin L. “A Land-Based Digital Design Rhetoric.” Routledge Companion to Digital Writing & Rhetoric, edited by Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes, Routledge, 2018, pp. 199-213.

Arola, Kristin L. “Composing as Culturing: An American Indian Approach to Digital Ethics.” Handbook of Writing, Literacies, and Education in Digital Cultures, edited by Kathy Mills, Amy Stornaiuolo, Anna Smith & Jessica Zacher Pandya, Routledge, 2018, pp. 275-284.

Arola, Kristin L. “Indigenous Interfaces.” Social Writing/Social Media: Pedagogy, Presentation, and Publics, edited by Douglas Walls and Stephanie Vie, WAC Clearinghouse Perspectives on Writing Series, University of Colorado Press, 2017, pp. 209-224.

Arola, Kristin L. and Adam C. Arola “An Ethics of Assemblage: Creative Repetition and the Electric Pow Wow.” Assembling Composition, edited by Kathleen Blake Yancey and Stephen J. McElroy, National Council of Teachers of English, 2017, pp. 204-221.

Journal Articles

Arola, Kristin and Rickert, Thomas. “The Ancestors We Claim: Conversations toward a Future New Materialism Across Boundaries.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol 52, issue 2, April 2022.

Bessette, Douglass., Chelsea Schelly, Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Valoree Gagnon, Andrew A. Fiss, Kristin L. Arola, Elise Matz., R. Ong, and Kathleen Halvorsen. “Energy Democracy in Practice: Centering Energy Sovereignty in Rural Communities and Tribal Nations.” In Routledge Handbook of Energy Democracy, Eds. A. Feldpausch-Parker, D. Endres, T. Rai Peterson, and S. Gomez. Routledge, 2022.

Sales, Sherwin, Mara Lee Grayson and Kristin L. Arola. “The Difference BIPOC Mentorship Makes in the Academy.” In “Symposium – Diversity Is Not Justice: Working toward Radical Transformation and Racial Equity in the Discipline,” edited by Ersula Ore, Kimberly Wieser, and Christina Cedillo. College Composition and Communication, vol. 72, no. 4, 2021, pp. 610-614.

Schelly, Chelsea, Valoree Gagnon, Kristin L. Arola, Andrew Fiss, Marie Schaefer, Kathleen E. Halvorsen. “Cultural Imaginaries or Incommensurable Ontologies? Relationality and Sovereignty as Worldviews in Socio-Technological System Transitions. Energy Research and Social Science, vol. 80, 2021, pp. 1-7.

Schelly, Chelsea, Douglas Bessette, Kathleen Brosemer, Gagnon, Valoree Gagnon, Kristin L. Arola, Andrew Fiss, Joshua M. Pearce, Kathleen E. Halvorsen. “Energy Policy for Energy Sovereignty: Can Policy Tools Enhance Energy Sovereignty?” Solar Energy, vol. 205, 2020, pp. 109-112.

Brosemer, Kathleen, Chelsea Schelly, Valoree Gagnon, Kristin L. Arola., Joshua M. Pearce, Douglas Bessette, Laura Schmitt Olabisi. “The Energy Crises Revealed by COVID: Intersections of inequality, Indigeneity, and Health.” Perspectives piece. Energy Research and Social Science, vol. 68, 2020, pp. 1-5.

Sackey, Donnie Johnson, Casey Boyle, Mai Nou Xiong, Gabriela Raquel Ríos, Kristin L. Arola, Scot Barnett. “Perspectives on Cultural and Posthumanist Rhetorics.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 38, no. 4, 2019, pp. 375-401.

Research and Academic Affiliation

Affiliate Faculty, American Indian & Indigenous Studies Program

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Interdisciplinarity

Affiliate Faculty, Digital Humanities Program

Member, Multimodal Working Group

Sample Courses Taught

WRA 101: Writing as Inquiry

WRA 260: Writing, Persuasion & Culture

WRA 325: Writing & Multimodality

WRA 860: Multimodal Composing

WRA 891: American Indian Rhetorics

Social Media

Twitter: @kristinarola