Preparing for Spring 2021

The Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) employs award-winning, world-class faculty with a proven history and ongoing commitment to excellence. That commitment certainly extends to our teaching, with our focus on student engagement, high-impact teaching practices, and effective mentoring across programs. Our First-Year Writing engages students in acts of inquiry, discovery, and communication and supports students for the writing they will do at MSU and beyond. Our undergraduate majors (P2W and XA) help students develop skills to create, design, and write to enhance communities, develop technologies, and innovate in industry. Our graduate program prepares the teachers, scholars, and researchers who will lead our disciplines and our institutions.

Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the context of our work with each other, and with students. Regardless of changes in the delivery of teaching, we remain anchored to our goal of providing MSU students with an exceptional experience in their WRAC classes. 

We’ve been hard at work preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year, and what we can do to ensure that exceptional experience. What’s been going on behind the scenes at WRAC:

  • Researching: As faculty in a program focused on writing and rhetoric, we have a long history of researching and writing about online pedagogy. Most recently, Casey McArdle, assistant professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs, co-authored Personal, Accessible, Responsive, Strategic: Resources and Strategies for Online Writing Instructors (2019). Associate Professor Kristin Arola co-authored Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, a text about and for writing for online spaces, now in its third edition.

    Other faculty membersincluding associate professor Natasha Jones and professors Liza Potts, Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, and Jacqueline Rhodesresearch how people write and communicate in digital spaces, exploring issues of race and social justice, social media and crisis communication, networking and collaboration, and more.

  • Many of our other faculty research pedagogy more broadly in order to help us approach all instruction (FYW, P2W, XA, and graduate seminars) in innovative, purposeful, and effective ways.

book covers

  • Preparing: WRAC has offered hybrid and online courses for more than a decade, and as a community, we share our knowledge, know-how, and resources with one another. Over the summer, faculty member Sarah Gibbons offered a series of well-attended workshops that focused on prepping and delivering quality online courses. Those workshops will continue throughout the school year as we hone our practice. Topics so far have included:
    • ensuring that all course materials are captioned, transcripted, and accessible for learners with a range of technological tools, access, bandwidth, etc.
    • ensuring that all course materials are captioned, transcripted, and accessible for learners with a range of physical and neurological abilities
    • engaging lively interaction between students and between instructors and students
    • streamlining drafting, feedback, and revision processes so students get ample feedback on their writing
    • creating clear pathways through course materials, so that students can easily access all the required materials for their writing course
  • Planning: We’ve been working with MSU’s set of university-level resources, including long-standing teaching support materials, like #iteachMSU Commons ( and materials that have more recently been developed, like Keep Teaching MSU (
    We’ve also developed materials for WRAC faculty to best be able to address student questions related to online courses in the fall, and to direct students to resources and support both in our department and at the university. 
    Finally, WRAC faculty have also participated in university-offered online teaching training, including the Summer Online Instructional Readiness for Educational Excellence (SOIREE) program and the ASynchronous Program for Instructional REadiness (ASPIRE) program. 

WRAC Faculty Welcome You to MSU!

woman with glasses sitting next to dog

Hello, welcome, hello! We’re glad you’re here. I’m Julie Lindquist, Director of First-Year Writing. Our FYW program is staffed by wonderfully dedicated, passionate, and innovative teachers—professionals who see the work of teaching writing to be an ongoing ethical and intellectual project. Our goal is to help you, as a FYW student, improve not only your writing, but also your strategies for continuing to learn writing for new purposes and situations beyond your first semester or first year of college. The FYW writing team includes Associate Director Joyce Meier, Graduate Program Assistant Eve Cuevas, and Digital Curriculum Consultant Mike Ristich. We are working to find ways to make your First-Year Writing experience as rewarding and productive for you as possible. We’re all learning what it means to deliver excellent instruction during these strange and difficult times, but I am confident—with our leadership team and teaching faculty—that 2020-2021 will be a year that brings challenges, but also new opportunities. 

Julie Lindquist
Professor and Director of First-Year Writing

woman holding notebook

All summer my colleagues and I have been online, talking about COVID and the shutdown, civil unrest and the pursuit of justice in the US, and the importance of creation and communication to stay well in hard times. We’ve kept our communities alive, and we look forward to creating new supportive communities with you. Stay safe! See you soon!

Cheryl L. Caesar
Associate Professor

Bring the world to Michigan, and bring Michigan to the world!

Xinqiang Li 
Associate Professor

Hello and welcome! I’m one of the many writing professors you will meet here. I love teaching writing, because it’s through writing that students learn to understand how their voices fit into the larger chorus of our culture. Through writing class, you will be able to reflect on how your experiences and culture have shaped your worldview. You’ll learn to be a keen observer of the culture around you. You’ll discover how to make connections between your experiences and important ideas shaping our world. Along the way, you’ll hopefully also (re)discover the part of you that is creative and curious. Every semester, my students tell me this class is not what they expected. I suspect this semester will be no different, but I’m looking forward to discovering what it brings together.

Matt Rossi
Assistant Professor in WRAC

woman with glasses standing outside

Welcome everyone! We’ve been planning to make the coming semester interesting and rewarding for new and returning Spartans. Each WRAC class is a community where its members’ voices are valued. You belong. We look forward to meeting and working with you.

Jan Stryz
Assistant Professor


Welcome, incoming Spartan!

My WRAC colleagues and I are very excited for you as you begin a multitude of experiences as at State, whether you are on campus or taking classes remotely. Like you, MSU faculty, staff, advisors, and other campus representatives are preparing to ensure your safety and offer diverse learning opportunities. I, for example, participated in two professional development workshops this summer that taught me new methods and technological resources for engaging writing students in the online classroom. Whether we meet on campus or via Zoom, WeChat and/or other technology-supported resources, know that you are part of a large community of Spartans who believe in you!

Denise M. Acevedo
Assistant Professor

On behalf of The Writing Center @ MSU, I would like to welcome you to the university and to WRAC and invite you to use our services. This fall The Writing Center will be completely online, offering online appointments via Zoom and Google docs (your choice). You can make an appointment through our website,, and if you have a quick question or need help just use the Chat feature on our site. Our center is staffed by both undergraduates and graduates from across campus and majors, so you’re sure to find someone who fits your interests and learning/writing styles. This also means we’re always looking for students who want to be a part of our staff; reach out if you’re interested or want to learn more.

Trixie Smith
Associate Professor and WC Director

Hi! I’m the Interim Director of Projects and Education for the Writing Center. We’re thrilled to welcome you to MSU! We want new Spartans to know that our center values accessibility and centering the needs of disabled writerswhether your disability is documented or not. If you need writing support as you acclimate to your coursework, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! For direct questions, you can email me at We’ll do everything we can to make sure you get the writing community you need. We’ll be hosting a series of educational events on accessibility and writing this year, too, and we hope you’ll join us at those. Stay tuned for more details as scheduling emergesand welcome to MSU!

Karen Moroski-Rigney
Interim Director of Projects and Education for the Writing Center