Sisyphus Rolls on: Reframing Women’s Ways of "Making It" in Rhetoric and Composition

Kristin Bivens, Martha McKay Canter, Kirsti Cole, Violet Dutcher, Morgan Gresham, Luisa Rodriguez-Connal, Eileen Schell

This is a multi-vocal, multi-institutional piece that examines ways women "make it" in rhetoric and composition.

It is in the spirit of being more inclusive that we present our ideas about women's ways of making it in rhetoric and composition. This inclusiveness includes a written transcript of our audio narratives. Humbly, we present our work in this piece—after four years of writing and revising in the work spaces we all know so well—and offer several glimpses of the work women do as writing teachers. We honor all of the women who teach writing—those who have made it, those who are making it, those who aspire to make it, and those who make do.

Illustration of woman in sisyphus role

(Click on the image to enter.)

Kristin Bivens teaches writing at Harold Washington College in Chicago. She is currently a PhD student in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Kristin’s research interests include: contrapower harassment at two-year institutions, healthcare and intercultural communication, medical and feminist rhetorics, engineering writing, and research methodologies. She served as a member of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession from 2007-2013.

Martha McKay Canter is a third-year PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition and a Teaching Assistant in the First Year Composition Program at the Florida State University. She earned both her BA in English and her MA in English Education at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Martha currently teaches a course focused on composition theory and undergraduate research strategies. Martha's research considers home decor as a site of women's rhetorical agency and class identity from the Long Eighteenth Century to contemporary identity constructions in digital spaces such as Pinterest.

Kirsti K. Cole is an associate professor of Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature at Minnesota State University. In addition to teaching in the Teaching Writing Graduate Certificate and the new MS in Communications and Composition, she teaches literary and rhetorical theory. She has an edited collection forthcoming, Feminist Challenges or Feminist Rhetorics?: Locations, Scholarship, Discourse, and has published on women in the profession, feminist pedagogy, and poststructural readings of transatlantic Gothic literature.

Violet A. Dutcher is professor of rhetoric and composition and Writing Program Director at Eastern Mennonite University, teaching writing and speech courses. Her research interest is in literacy practices, particularly within the Amish and broader Anabaptist communities. With the support of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, she is currently working on a book-length project that examines women’s literacy practices within Amish communities.

Morgan Gresham is an associate professor of English; she currently serves as the First-Year Composition Coordinator and the Chair of the Verbal and Visual Arts Department at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in writing and composition studies. She currently serves on the CCCC’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession.

Eileen E. Schell is Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University. She is the author of Gypsy Academics and Mother-teachers: Gender, Contingent Labor, and Writing Instruction (Heinemann, 1998), the co-author of Rural Literacies (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007) as well as the co-editor of three essay collections.

Luisa Rodriguez-Connal is a writing instructor with more than twenty years’ experience. She focuses on feminism and cultural studies. Her love of history leads her to include history of groups frequently overlooked in US-American schools, along with their literature. She has strong interests in grassroots politics. In Detroit, Luisa worked with establishing liaisons between community action organizations and the students she taught. She wants her students to become aware and present to their environments and the people with whom they must engage to effect changes in the world. She is a grant editor, writer, and teacher.