MA Students

PhD Students
Megan BuschHeather BuzbeeMichael J. Kennedy | John Purfield | Schuler Benson | Mary FratiniBen Harley | Brian Harmon | Gerald Jackson | Amber Lee | Adam Lerner | Trevor Meyer | Melody PritchardMark Schaukowitch | Nathaniel Street


Megan Busch is a PhD candidate in Composition and Rhetoric. Her primary research interests include Southern dialect as rhetorical style and digital pedagogy in first-year composition. She has worked extensively with the code-meshed voice of Zora Neale Hurston as exhibited in her essays and collection of personal letters. Megan is currently researching coopted Southern speech patterns in political campaign addresses and the responses of the politicians’ audiences via Tweet sentiment analysis.


Heather Buzbee is a PhD student in the rhetoric and composition program. Her primary research interests include feminist historiography, feminist theory, classical rhetoric, especially ancient Greek, and humor, especially humor as a form of resistance and critique. Her personal interests include Doctor Who, sci-fi of all kinds, yoga, and traveling.






Michael J. Kennedy is a second-year Ph.D. student in the rhetoric and composition program. His primary research interests include the rhetorics of peace and (non)-violence, the rhetorics of activism and social justice, critical theory studies, feminist theories and epistemologies, and continental philosophy. Personal interests include but are not limited to, in no particular order, musicals, the color purple, black coffee, and probably any pet animals that you’d let him love and hold.


John Purfield is a new Ph.D. student in the USC program for Rhetoric and Composion. As such, his days are divided between teaching, writing, and arson. His currents interests in the field include digital rhetoric, 20th century fascist ideologies, and pedagogical concerns of inclusivity in classroom ecologies. He generally finds catharsis in his hobby of writing and setting garbage alight in abandoned gas station parking lots or defunct churches. These days he can be found around the Columbia campus’s humanities building or staring greedily into a cloud of smoke as a fresh fire slips quietly into the liminal space between control and chaos. He looks forward to meeting new colleagues in the rhetoric community.


Schuler Benson is a second-year PhD candidate whose research interests include new materialist rhetorics in immediate and long-term substance abuse recovery, and whose personal interests include riffs.







Mary Fratini is a PhD candidate in the speech communication and rhetoric program at the university of South Carolina. Her research interests include cultural studies, rhetorical theory, and feminist theory. Specifically, she is interested in how theories of conversation and rhetorical delivery might be rethought so as to address contemporary cultural and pedagogical issues. Ultimately, however, she resists all forms of specific description and adopts a position of the scholarly vagabond.





Ben Harley is a fourth year PhD student at the University and a second-year Assistant Director for FYENGL. He studies rhetoric and composition with a focus on publics and new materialism.






Brian Harmon is a PhD student working on intersections between visual rhetoric, multimodal composition practices and method, and documentary media production.




Gerald Jackson is a PhD student at the university. His research interests regard how rhetoric and technology meet, in particular through consideration of computer source code, ontology languages, media studies, and artificial intelligence. Gerald also works and researches in the field of technical communication and composition theory.






Amber Lee is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition. Her interests include memory and rhetorical theory as well as composition pedagogy.



Untitled-2 (2) Adam Lerner is a PhD student in rhetoric and composition with an emphasis on the rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine. His interests include disability rhetorics and health rhetorics, with a specific interest in the rhetoric of pharmaceuticals.



Trevor Meyer  is an ABD doctoral candidate in Rhetoric & Composition. His research focuses on the intersections and implications of rhetoric and violence, and his dissertation explores Japanese martial arts to find alternative orientations to the Eurocentric-Grecophiliac models of violence that dominate rhetorical theory and composition pedagogy. He is also interested in professional wrestling, Magic the Gathering, and the rhetoric of the Islamic State.



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Melody Pritchard is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition. She is interested in composition pedagogy, rhetorical theory, and writing center work.






Mark Schaukowitch is a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric program at USC. His interests include: Dissent, Ethics, Forensic Rhetoric, Political Theology, and Rhetorical Theory. His dissertation project is examining the limits of words to address (preventable) tragedy.


Summer 2010Nathaniel Street is a PhD candidate in the Composition and Rhetoric Program at the University of South Carolina.  His research interests include Rhetorical Theory, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and Composition Pedagogy.  Specifically, he is interested in how logics of representation structure our most basic theoretical assumptions of how writing works and how it is taught. His dissertation project re-theorizes representation within the structure of writing. The project weaves through five areas central to composition studies: writing theory, the rhetorical situation/ecology, pedagogy, digital writing, and writing program administration.