Jenna Vinson

Assistant Professor of English, UMass Lowell

Teaching

I approach teaching as an opportunity to guide students through a process of becoming critical thinkers and active participants in civic communication. My pedagogies are influenced by feminist practices of critical reflection and the transformation of thought into action. Whatever the course content, students in my classes are guaranteed an instructor who will provoke them to think critically about their lived experiences, who will challenge them to practice thoughtful public argumentation, and who will guide them through the writing process via workshops, activities, and constructive feedback on their drafts.

Courses Taught 

Visual Rhetoric

This upper-division undergraduate course introduces English majors to the theory and practice of visual rhetoric, with a special focus on how visual representations communicate culturally specific meanings about race, gender, class, sexuality, age, nationality, and difference. Students read theories from diverse fields including English studies, technical communication, women’s studies, cultural studies, and design in order to better understand the relationships between image and text. Assignments include analytical papers, design modules, contributions to a course blog, and a researched visual rhetorical project.

Writing about Women

Upper-division English and Gender Studies students in this discussion-based course examine first-person narratives written by women in response to dominant (mis)representations of gender and sexuality while practicing feminist and rhetorical analysis. Special attention is paid to issues of objectivity and truth in writing, silence, bodies, and rhetorical representations of sexuality and reproduction. Assignments include two analytical papers, a semester-long reflective reading journal, and a final piece of writing about women.

Theories of Rhetoric and Composition

This upper-division course introduces English majors to the history, theories, and discourse conventions of the field of rhetoric and composition. Students write analytical papers, facilitate class discussion, share research from the field, and write a final research paper on a topic of their choice.

Personal and Reflective Writing

This course focuses on personal writing genres, reflective writing practices, and the socio-political implications of making the personal public. Students write, workshop, and revise a series of essays based on their lived experiences while keeping track of their growth and setbacks as a writer by writing daily in a journal.

Introduction to Professional Writing

Designed and implemented this new gateway course for English majors concentrating in Journalism and Professional Writing at UMass Lowell. This course introduces students to journalism, technical writing, and business writing while emphasizing the importance of theories of rhetoric and genre. All assignments call for students to write for public audiences beyond the classroom, including one service-learning project.

Principles of Technical Writing

In this upper-division course, students learn about the rhetorical strategies and communications technologies appropriate for technical writing situations. Students plan, create, and user-test projects such as technical documentations, resumes, proposals, reports, websites, and other genres as they work with local community non-profits on real technical writing needs.

Advanced Composition

This upper-division, writing-intensive course focused on how language shapes personal experience and community beliefs. Assignments included reflective portfolios, rhetorical analyses, creative non-fiction essays, public arguments, and blogs. Students participated in a student-based university writing contest I coordinated with other Advanced Composition instructors at the University of Arizona. We raised over $1,000 in teaching grants to support the “Moments (In)Form” contest and public reading event.

Business Writing

Students studied workplace practices, business communications, and writing on behalf of  an organization through client-based projects and case studies. Assignments included memos, emails, job search materials, proposals, reports, and promotional documents.

Technical Writing

This compressed 8-week, upper-division course focused on rhetorical strategies and communications technologies appropriate to technical writing situations. Students created and usability tests, quick reference cards, resumes, proposals, reports, and websites.

Writing Center Internship Course

I collaborated with three instructors to team teach students to work at the writing center as a paid tutor. Assignments and readings emphasized non-hierarchical, collaborative, and student-initiated approaches to tutoring.

First-Year Composition I: Textual Analysis and Writing

This course focuses on close reading, textual analysis, reflection, and revision. Students examined issues of identity, social justice, and education while exchanging narratives about their college experiences with local high school students.

First-Year Composition II: Rhetoric Analysis and Research 

Assignments in this course emphasized classical rhetorical, visual-spatial, and gender analysis; research; public argument; reflection; and revision. Students examined community-based controversies and composed in multiple modes and genres.

Women and Western Culture 

This online course focused on how gender is conceptualized, embodied, and resisted by women rhetors the classical Greek period to the present. Assignments included reading quizzes, discussion board posts, reflective papers, a rhetorical research  project, and a final essay exam.