The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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IPRH and FOCAL reading groups organized by Center for Writing Studies affiliated faculty and graduate students include:

Digital Literacies

Organized around the theme of digital literacies, this reading group invites colleagues to engage in an interdisciplinary conversation on how digital media have been taken up in fields such as writing studies, art and design, informatics, communication, and rhetorical studies, among others. With digital literacies, we do not signal only competence in the skills necessary to operate a computer. Instead we argue that the ability to read, compose, and communicate electronically has become essential to literate activity. Contacts: Melissa Larabee, English (, Kaitlin Marks-Dubbs, English (


Rhetorical Studies

The RSRG is an interdisciplinary group of faculty/grad students interested in all aspects of rhetoric and public discourse. Since its inception in 2006, the RSRG has hosted over 20 visiting scholars as reading group guests. We also gather together to take up current work in the field, plan for conference submissions, and the like. If you're interested in rhetorical studies (or merely rhetoric-curious), please consider joining us if you aren't a regular already. We meet about 4-5 times per academic year. For more information or to be added to the group's listserv, contact Cara Finnegan at


Transnational Communications Methods and Practice: Mapping Technologies and Futures

Transnational Communications Methods and Practice: Mapping Technologies and Futures is a 2012-2013 Focal Point Project funded by the Graduate College. The project's aims are to  1.) identify interdisciplinary methods for conducting transnational research and 2.) explore communication technologies in practice among particular communities and industries. In order to do this, we have taken up the guiding frameworks of “myths” and “futures”—two themes which pervade the discourse on global technologies—and intend to examine the material implications of these themes as they unfold “on the ground” in community groups and industries. Our project will include research workshops led by participating UIUC faculty, writing workshops for graduate student research, lectures from industry professionals and community organizers, and collaborative projects with international organizations. Our project will culminate in an end-of-the-year research symposium and final book project. Contact: Eileen Lagman (


Youth, Literature, and Culture

Hosted by the Center for Children’s Books, this is a research workshop and reading group that explores youth literature, media, and culture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and draws scholars from library science, education, English literature, and other departments.  The group, which draws from a number of universities in the region, meets several times per semester to share and encourage new critical work by its members and to reflect on significant trends and publications. Contact: Deborah Stevenson, Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Past Groups

Narrative tellings, retellings and remediations: Readings on situated discourse practice

Analysis of narratives has been central to many disciplines. Recent work has moved from an isolated focus on linguistic construction of narrative textuality to the situated discourse practices of narrative tellings and retellings, including semiotic remediations (whether shifts in material, embodied performance or across media—from talk to text to film to video game). In meetings led by the organizers, participants, and invited visitors, this reading group will explore multidisciplinary approaches to narrative discourse practice.