Isabel Baca
Isabel Baca
Ph.D., New Mexico State University

Associate Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 312
Phone: 915-747-6245

Bienvenidos! Welcome to the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Program in the Department of English at The University of Texas at El Paso. As a native El Pasoan, I consider myself a product of the U.S.-Mexico border. As such, I seek to connect academia with our border community and explore venues that will allow students to practice what they are learning in the classroom in real workplace settings.

My current scholarship explores key challenges that face theorists and practitioners of community writing and service-learning in writing studies. However, my research crosses over to other disciplines since I seek answers to the following questions: How can service-learning and writing be integrated across the curriculum? What are the potential problems with this? What are the challenges? What are the benefits? A sub-topic of my scholarship deals with second-language learners and minority students and how service-learning paves the way for multiliteracies. My research addresses community literacy needs and how academia can help meet these needs.

My major publication, Service-Learning and Writing: Paving the Way for Literacy(ies) through Community Engagement is an edited collection that demonstrates how writing instruction and/or writing practice can complement community engagement and outreach in local, national, and international contexts. Recent projects include conference presentations, workshops, chapters, and journal articles on service-learning and how this teaching and learning method should be integrated and used in and outside the writing classroom. In addition, my current research explores mentoring venues and efforts for Latino/a students and other minorities in Rhetoric and Writing Studies.

I founded and direct the Community Writing Partners program in the Department of English. Having recruited over twenty non-profit organizations in varying fields such as health, literacy, immigration, and advocacy, I place students in internships, senior and graduate practica, and service-learning projects. I also co-direct the Bilingual Professional Writing Certificate program and teach English-Spanish bilingual sections of Technical Writing and Workplace Writing. In addition, I teach for the fully online Technical and Professional Writing Certificate program.

As a Latina and community-engaged scholar, I love to explore literacies and study the intersection between higher education and the community. Together, the university and the community, can cultivate strong, civically-engaged students and professionals. When not at work, I enjoy reading and discussing literary works with my college son, traveling, spending time with my parents, and participating in community events.

Beth Brunk-Chavez
Beth Brunk-Chavez
Ph.D., University of Texas at Arlington

Associate Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 220
Phone: 915-747-5797

I currently serve as the Interim Dean of Extended University which oversees UTEP's Public and Professional Programs, the Military Student Success Center, and UTEP Connect. From 2008-2013, I directed the First-Year Composition program which was awarded the Conference on College Composition and Communication Writing Certificate of Excellence. I have been awarded the University of Texas Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award and named to the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. My research is interested in writing with technology, teaching with technology, writing program administration, and working with second language writers. I teach courses on Writing Program Administration as well as Rhetoric and Technology. ​I have served on a variety of national committees including the WPA Outcomes Statement task force and the NCTE College Section Steering Committee.

Carol Clark
Carol Clark
Ph.D., Texas Christian University

Associate Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 207
Phone: 915-747-6244

My experiences in the Middle East during Fulbright Award in Jordan in 2008-09 have redirected my scholarship within rhetoric and writing studies. Originally, I became interested in the Middle East via my work in classical rhetoric because I teach the History of Rhetoric 1 class with a multi-cultural focus. In addition to the ancient Greek and Roman, we consider historical rhetorics of cultures including Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Arabic. I published an article on Averroes (Ibn Rushd), a 12th century Moorish rhetorician, “Aristotle and Averroes: The Influence of Aristotle’s Arabic Commentator on Western European and Arabic Rhetoric” in Review of Communications(2007). My interest in the contemporary rhetoric of journalism related to the Middle East is reflected in two papers slated for publication. Currently, I am working on papers related to sense of place at Joseph’s Tomb, a contested heritage site in the West Bank, and the epideictic rhetoric of the kings of Jordan.

My continuing interest in the teaching of composition is evidenced by the publication in 2009 of my third first-year composition textbook, Praxis: A Brief Rhetoric (Fountainhead Press) that utilizes ancient rhetoric to frame the teaching of writing. A book on the rhetoric of journalism, Imagining Texas: Pre-Revolutionary Texas Newspapers 1829-1836, was published by Texas Western Press in 2002.

Jennifer Clifton
Jennifer Clifton
Ph.D., Arizona State University

Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 221
Phone: 915-747-6246

My current scholarship puts theories and rhetorics of public life, deliberative arts, and situated action to work in contexts where globalization and transnational movement complicate the conditions and consequences of engagement in public life. On the one hand, my work takes up the question, Who gets to go public? However, what’s beneath this question interests me more. The public turn implies a turn toward the commons—a contested, provisional construct that puts questions of access and self-other relations front and center. A turn toward the commons joins deliberation over situated action (What, if anything should we do? What now? What next?) with deliberation over values (Where are we going? Is this desirable? Who gains, who loses—under what conditions, to what degree, and by which mechanisms of power?) My research brings contemporary rhetorical theories of deliberative democracy and the public sphere to the design of sites and processes for collaborative inquiry, complex problem-solving, and intercultural knowledge-building that document and support people making real-time decisions under constraints not of their making and in the face of outcomes they cannot control. Such portraits offer a more accurate, more grounded vision of what it means to deliberate and take wise action in a risk-ridden world, particularly at the intersection where institutional decision-making in the form of a public policy or practice plays out in day-to-day life. In our culture, writing—and learning to put writing to new purposes—typically infuses such decision-making. 

Recent projects have included community think tanks to explore water resource issues and policies; Photovoice projects to explore educational and workplace issues and to cultivate participatory local publics; and student-led community film festivals to explore the risks and rewards of rural living under conditions of globalized capitalism. Importantly, this shift to take up the commons necessitates interdisciplinary collaborative research that also includes policies, laws, institutional practices, and the lives of everyday people as necessary and important considerations for deliberation about, say, water rights or immigration reform or refugee education. 

Theresa DonovanTheresa Donovan
Ph.D., The University of Texas at El Paso

Director of RWS-Undergraduate Program
Senior Lecturer

Office: Hudspeth Hall 115
Phone: 915-747-5222 

My academic career has been one of many border crossings—a  native of New Hampshire, I earned a bachelor’s and master’s from la Universidad de Puerto Rico, becoming fluent in Spanish along the way. My time in PR helped to lay the groundwork for my current scholarship in issues of language, power, and race.  My work has focused on how we negotiate issues of power, whether as language choice or racial identity. In addition to my dissertation, “Era[c]ing diversity: A critical rhetorical approach to race and the new citizen,” I have a forthcoming article (Dec. 2015), “Habits of whiteness:The rhetorics of racial categories and the expansion of the racial divide” in Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society.

Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to teach widely diverse courses from first-year composition, bilingual workplace writing and a doctoral-level course in ancient rhetorics.

My current position as the director of Rhetoric and Writing Studies—UndergraduateProgram (RWS-UP) has turned my attention to research in writing program administration, and peer review interactions. As part of the RWS-UP team, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring our graduate-student instructors as they begin their careers in teaching in the university.   

When I’m not in El Paso, I’m spending time in my adoptive home, Naranjito, Puerto Rico. 

Lucia Dura
Lucía Durá
Ph.D., University of Texas at El Paso

Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 319
Phone: 915-747-5199

To do rhetoric “out there” requires a shedding of academic adornments, a different professional disposition, new participatory and analytic tools, and a more grounded conception of public need. —Coogan and Ackerman in The Public Work of Rhetoric, 2010

I see a pressing need for reflexive, inquiry-based, and pragmatic rhetorical action in the world “out there.” For me this entails a deep exploration of the discursive and material practices that shape pedagogy, workplace communication, organizational leadership, and social change. It means having a profound understanding of local contexts in a global world. And it means using my bilingual, bicultural, and binational status, to listen, to negotiate and to co-construct new narratives/realities.

While what I do spans various sectors (e.g., public, private, health, education, environment, food, and art) and is broadly considered community-based work, it tends to be situated in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies sub-fields of intercultural rhetoric, risk communication, literacy studies, and discourses of health & medicine. I also find constant and important intersections with theories of invention, methodologies, rhetorics of science, rhetorics of space & place, cultural studies, rhetorics of gender & sexuality, social justice, racial justice, and pedagogy, student engagement & knowledge transfer.

For almost a decade I have been collaborating on interdisciplinary projects that emphasize participatory design, asset-based thinking, and creativity, e.g., through the use of liberating structures and positive deviance. Here are two links to select publications: Cultural Beacons as Measures of Programmatic Impact and Social Change through Intercultural, Participatory Rhetoric in the Peruvian Amazon.

One of the greatest perks of my job is the privilege of working with students! In addition to my regular teaching and mentoring duties, I am a faculty adviser for Frontera Retórica, which is the Rhetoric Society of America’s UTEP chapter, and for the Social Justice Initiative housed in UTEP’s Department of Communication.

For more information on projects, partnerships, and publications, I invite you to e-mail me ldura@utep.edu.

Helen Foster
Helen Foster
Ph.D., Purdue University

Associate Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 115
Phone: 915-747-6623

Welcome; I’m glad you’re here. My Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, with a secondary concentration in cultural studies, was earned at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. My primary research focuses on composition history and theory and disciplinarity, using the methodology of institutional critique. In addition to various journal articles in this area, I have also published a book, Networked Process: Dissolving Boundaries of Process and Post-Process, and I’m currently co-authoring an upcoming composition textbook, Explorations: A Guided Inquiry into Writing. I serve at the national level on the executive committees for the Consortium of Doctoral Programs in Rhetoric and Composition as well as the newly formed Consortium of Undergraduate Programs in Rhetoric and Writing. My current research interest is trained on the area of undergraduate majors in rhetoric and writing studies, and I am currently working with others to build a national infrastructure for this emerging field. Last, my sustained interest in postmodern issues and rhetoric and writing studies is now morphing into a focus on globalization, particularly with an eye to rhetorical interventions that support sustainability and peace. I’m faculty advisor to Frontera Retorica and I’m into social networking; you can find me on Facebook and living in Yoville.

Laura Gonzales
Laura Gonzales
Ph.D., Michigan State University

Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 115
Phone: 915-747-

I study composing as a mobile, dynamic process that is constantly adapted by users in local contexts (Fraiberg, 2010; Sun, 2012). More specifically, I’m interested in the ways people, and in particular people who speak English as a second (or third, fourth, etc.) language, move or shuttle between languages, platforms, tools, and communities simultaneously to accomplish tasks. My goal through this work is not to “assist” individuals as they make linguistic transitions, but rather to help researchers pay attention to the writing practices of multilinguals in order to learn from them.

My professional trajectory has been shaped by experiences learning English as a second language, and, perhaps even more emphatically, by teaching students who navigate linguistic transitions in their daily communication. Most recently, I had the honor of working as the translations coordinator for the Department of Language Services at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, where I learned how communities can be sustained through language justice and inclusion.

My work has been published in Technical Communication, Composition Forum,College Composition and Communication, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. I was also recently awarded the 2016 Sweetland/UM Press Book Prize  for my forthcoming book, Sites of Translation:What Multilinguals can Teach us about Digital Writing and Rhetoric

I’m a proud member of the CPTSC Diversity Committee, NCTE’sLatin@ Caucus, the Computers andWriting Race Caucus, ACM’s SpecialInterest Group on Design of Communication, and the American Translators Association. For more information, please visit my website at www.gonzlaur.com

Kate Mangelsdorf
Kate Mangelsdorf
Ph.D., University of Arizona


Office: Hudspeth Hall 315
Phone: 915-747-5543

My main focus in Rhetoric and Writing Studies has been on educational equity, and as a result my work has examined the ways that people maneuver within social and educational contexts to gain authority and voice. In the last few years I have concentrated on the reworking of English within the field of Rhetoric and Composition: the contradictions between dominant monolingual language ideologies and lived languages, particularly those on the borderlands. My research has been oriented toward students, and I have focused on topics such as peer review interactions between monolingual and multilingual students, students’ codemeshing, and the impact of assigning labels to non-traditional students.

In my view, changes in the field of Rhetoric and Writing Studies happen on the ground, in classrooms and communities, so in addition to publishing traditional scholarship I have focused on co-authoring textbooks that I believe have helped to push the field forward. Evelyn Posey and I have co-authored a high-level Basic Writing textbook, Choices, that soon will be released in its 6th edition by Bedford/St. Martins. We have also published a first-year composition textbook with Pearson, The World of Writing, which is the first of its kind because it is based on the idea that all students are multilingual.

I have been fortunate enough to teach a variety of courses throughout my career, and my most recent new course is one of my favorites. With Dr. Char Ullman, I am teaching a graduate class in which students conduct ethnographic research in first-year writing classes, focusing in particular on identity formation, language ideologies, and texts. I’ve also had the opportunity to work as an administrator at UTEP, and currently am directing two programs: English Education and Rhetoric and Writing Studies (which includes our Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition). I have served on the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and have been the principle investigator of a $400,000 writing program grant from the Sid Richardson Foundation. In 2012 I won the Outstanding Faculty Award from the College of Liberal Arts.

When not hard at work, I can be found hiking the trails of West Texas and southern New Mexico with my husband and our very energetic dog.

For more information about my work, see my portfolio at http://works.bepress.com/kate_mangelsdorf/

Evelyn Posey
Evelyn Posey
Ph.D., New Mexico State University

Director of TPW Program

Office: Hudspeth Hall 316
Phone: 915-747-8487
Email: eposey@utep.edu 

I am currently the Director of the UTEP online Technical and Professional Writing Certificate program, where I also I teach Grant Writing. My experience as the Principal Investigator of a 3.4 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant for the advancement of women in science and engineering helped me to learn the ins and outs of grant writing and management.

In addition to directing the certificate program, I have been active in the computers and writing community, writing articles and presenting papers on using technology in the composition classroom and serving on the CCCC Computer Committee. My colleague Kate Mangelsdorf and I have authored three first-year composition textbooks: Choices: A Basic Writing Guide with Readings, 5th ed. and Discoveries: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Paragraphs and Essays for Bedford/St. Martin’s and The World of Writing: A Guide for Pearson/Longman.

The strongest assets I bring to Rhetoric and Writing Studies are my love of teaching and research, broad experience in university administration, and my years of working with faculty development and information technology on campus. In addition to my work, I spend weekends in High Rolls, NM where my husband and I have a cabin.  

Maggy Smith
Maggy Smith
Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutute

Chair of The Department of English

Office: Hudspeth Hall 107
Phone: 915-747-6642

If you really want to make a difference, work with interesting and motivated students, and chat with warm and welcoming colleagues, UTEP is the place for you!

I have been at UTEP since 1987. During my years at UTEP, I served both as an English professor and an administrator. Between 1987 and 1995, I was a fulltime English faculty member teaching professional writing and rhetoric classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, directing thesis projects, and serving in departmental leadership roles, including Directing Composition for a time.

Between 1995 and 2008, I served in a number of UTEP administrative positions, including being the founding Dean of UTEP’s University College which housed all of UTEP’s first-year experience programs (a first-year seminar, learning communities, student leadership education, and peer leader training). Most of my work in administration was focused on student engagement, satisfaction, retention, and success. This is an area to which I have dedicated my time consulting and publishing.

I rejoined the Rhetoric and Writing Studies faculty in Fall 2009 where I will be teaching a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses. My scholarly interests will remain focused on academic leadership and student success.

Gustav Verhulsdonck
Gustav Verhulsdonck
Ph.D., New Mexico State University

Visiting Assistant Professor

Office: Hudspeth Hall 117
Phone: 915-747-6243

I received my Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in Rhetoric and Professional Communication. I have worked as a technical writer for International Business Machines (IBM), and was a visiting researcher for the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technology (USC-ICT) working for clients such as National Aeronautics and Space Administrations (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the US Army.

My current research involves how people and technologies shape interactive processes of rhetoric and communication. As such, my interests lie in investigating how humans and technologies structure and restructure each other in ongoing ever-present conversations. Ever since Plato’s objections to writing as a medium, Aristotle’s system of technical rhetoric, and before the invention of computers by Ada Lovelace, rhetoric has interrogated technology and vice versa. As humans are nowadays increasingly interconnected with pervasive devices through global networks, I see a lot of promise in studying such technological processes and their implications for rhetorical inquiry.

Broadly, my research speaks to three factors that are central to my work, namely: humans, computers, and interaction as interconnected processes. Because humans interact with and through computers to connect with other human beings, my work focuses on interactive moments when these occur through an interface and surface through writing and communication. As such, my research is situated in various research areas that I see as interconnecting and speaking to such moments, and involves digital rhetoric, digital humanities, technical communication, information science, human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communication, interaction design, information architecture, computer coding, intercultural research, game theory, theories of globalization, and social networks.

My research interests have led me on a trajectory of researching how virtual worlds shape negotiation strategies between people; issues of virtual embodiment through avatars; the shape and direction of digital rhetoric when humans, code, and computational processes are imbricated; and how mobile devices and cross-cultural, global contexts impact composition.

I have co-edited a collection (together with Dr. Marohang Limbu at Michigan State University) on the implications of the “digital turn” in rhetoric, titled Digital Rhetoric and Global Literacies: Communication Modes and Digital Practices in the Networked World (IGI Global/Information Science Reference, 2013). In addition, I have published papers at industry conferences organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). My latest work involves mobile design in a global ecology is featured in a special edition of Computers and Composition (2015). I am currently studying the implications of social networks and globalization on composition and rhetoric.
Dr. Kate Manglesdorf presented " 'They Told Me in English You Prefer Simple Sentences': How L2 Writing Students Bring Previous Writing Knowledge to New Rhetorical Tasks" at the Symposium for Second Language Writing, held at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ (October 20-22, 2016).

Dr. Jennifer Clifton published a book (with Bob Fecho), Dialoguing across Cultures, Identities, and Learning: Crosscurrents and Complexities in Litearacy Classrooms with Routledge in the Language, Culture, and Teaching series.

Dr. Beth Brunk-Chavez and Dr. Kate Mangelsdorf have co-authored (with several faculty from NMSU) "When the First Language You Use Is Not English: Challenges of Language Minority College Composition Students," which appears in Linguistically Diverse Immigrant and Resident Writers, eds. Christina Ortmeier-Hooper and Todd Ruecker (Routledge, 2016.)

Dr. Laura Gonzales is the recipient of the 2016 Sweetland/UM Press Book Prize.

Dr. Gustav Verhulsdonck's paper "Creating Personas for International Audiences" was published in the May 2016 special issue of Intercom Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), guest edited by Kirk St. Amant and Ann Wiley.


The English Department's End-of-Semester Reception will be held May 4, 2017 from 3:00-4:30 PM in the Geology Reading Room.

Dr. Patricia Witherspoon, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will be giving her Dean's Legacy Lecture, "Taking a Stand for the Liberal Arts," at 5:00 PM in the Tomas Rivera Conference Center of the Union on May 4, 2017.