Those Days in Hagey Hall

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ashley Kelly portrait
As a University of Waterloo Department of English grad (BA ‘08, Literature and Rhetoric; MA ‘10, Rhetoric and Communication Design), I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to share where my UWaterloo Arts education led me. In August of this year I will join the faculty at Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication as an Assistant Professor.

My time at UWaterloo launched me on the academic journey that would lead to Purdue. It was during my undergraduate studies that I met Dr. Randy Allen Harris, who agreed to advise my thesis, and has seen me through the completion of my doctoral dissertation. One of Prof. Harris’s areas of specialization is rhetoric and he has written much on the rhetoric of science. Under his direction I began to study how scientists argue and communicate with one another and with non-expert audiences. Offering a somewhat different critical lens, Dr. Catherine Schryer introduced me to an area of study called Genre Theory or Genre Studies. Both would be crucial to my doctoral work.

Ashley Kelly delivering her dissertation
At UWaterloo I also gained experience working on multidisciplinary teams, including as a technical communicator at Research in Motion (BlackBerry) during my co-op placement, as a researcher for Dr. Harris with Dr.Chrysanne DiMarco’s Inkpot Natural Language Processing group in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, and as a researcher for Dr. Neil Randall with the Collaborative Systems Lab in the Department of Systems Design Engineering.

The Department of English, Faculty of Arts, and the University of Waterloo supported me through several generous awards, including the President’s Graduate Scholarship, and I was further supported with funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This support was crucial to my career development as it allowed me to publish, travel to conferences, and begin building my research agenda.

Eventually I found my way to North Carolina State University, where I have been able to work with Dr. Carolyn R. Miller. Dr. Miller is a world-class scholar of rhetoric, having done much work in the rhetoric of science, and having written a foundational article entitled “Genre as Social Action” (1984), an article that has influenced downstream genre theorists since its publication 30 years ago. Working with Prof. Miller has been an honour and I recently defended my dissertation, “Emerging Parascientific Genres and Public Participation in Scientific Research” which she directed, along with my dissertation committee, Dr. William J. Kinsella, Dr. Ann M. Penrose, Dr. Jordynn Jack, and UWaterloo’s Dr. Randy Allen Harris.

Many people at UWaterloo helped me get to Purdue, more than I have mentioned here, but Prof. Harris has seen me right through my undergraduate training to the end of my doctoral studies. As I head off to Purdue, its school colours of black and old gold will always fondly remind me of that old uWaterloo black and gold.