My name is Michael J. Faris, an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I teach first-year writing, assist our writing program in integrating digital literacies into the curriculum, and teach courses on social media, gender, and popular culture.

I earned my PhD student at Penn State, studying English and focusing in Rhetoric and Composition. (You can also visit my electronic portfolio.)

My dissertation project, Rhetoric, Social Media, and Privacy, is a critical investigation into notions and practices of privacy in social media environments. Drawing on a variety of ecological perspectives, I argue for a view of privacy that foregrounds its significant rhetorical dimensions. I develop my argument by understanding privacy practices as digital literacy practices and by interrogating metaphors for the “public sphere” audiences use to engage social media. To make matters concrete, I consider the rhetorical dynamics of four key aspects of privacy—materiality, identity, intimacy, and sociality—in social media environments, including the interface design practices of Facebook and the contexts (physical and virtual) that shape digital literacy practices among users. A key conclusion of my argument is that print-based and space-based notions of the public/private dichotomy often fail to illuminate the rhetorical dynamics of privacy in social media environments.

My research interests include rhetoric and technologies, rhetoric and composition, digital rhetorics, public/private rhetorics, technical writing, and sexuality studies.

While at Penn State, I have taught various courses, including first-year rhetoric and composition, honors rhetoric and composition, a new course on rhetoric and civic life that integrates writing, oral communication, and multimedia digital rhetoric, technical communication, and introduction to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies. I have integrated various technologies into my teaching, including the Sony Reader into honors rhetoric and composition course; blogging into various courses; e-portfolios into technical communication; and the iPad into technical communication.

I have also been an assistant in the Composition Program, where I assisted in orientation for new English 15 teachers and helped in the teacher-training course throughout the year, as well as various other duties related to the day-to-day running of the program. I have also worked with the Public Writing Initiative, which brings in speakers from businesses and community organizations to upper-division writing courses. I have served as a mentor for new English 15 instructors, and been the webmaster for the English Graduate Organization.

I finished my master’s degree at Oregon State University, focusing in rhetoric and writing, in summer 2007. My thesis, Traversing the City of Blogs: Pedagogy, Performance, and Public Spheres (pdf, 1.8 MB), explored potentials for the blogosphere as a public sphere and the use of blogs in a composition classroom for having students engage in public discourse. While at Oregon State, I was a GTA for the English Department, where I taught first-year composition, and the GTA for the Writing Intensive Curriculum Program.

My CV is available here. I can be reached at mjf338 at psu dot edu.

“Our bodies are the battleground where a war to regulate and control gender expression is increasingly being fought.” – Riki Anne Wilchins

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain closed up in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

Banner image source: Mike Gustie of Wired Wren Photography and Design.

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