June 12, 2024

UMW to Celebrate National Day on Writing

Grab a pen and join us for some literary fun!The Department of English & Linguistics, along with Simpson Library, student-run literary magazine The Aubade, and the UMW Creative Writing Club will be sponsoring an event encouraging students to write on October 20 – National Day on Writing. The event will include tables at various locations across campus where free swag will be given away, and the student organizations will be able to promote their clubs by hosting writing activities. Also, look out around campus for three-word prompts for “bad haikus.” If you write and tweet your haikus and tag @UMWLibraries, you will be entered for a chance to win a prize! Students, staff, and faculty alike are welcome to participate in this awesome event that encourages us to write something, even if it’s bad! We hope to see you at the event, and we can’t wait to read your haikus!

Blevins and Whalen Present at Conferences

Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins

Assistant Professor of English Brenta Blevins

Brenta Blevins, Assistant Professor of English, and Zach Whalen, Associate Professor of English, with Lee Skallerup Bessette, Learning Design Specialist of Georgetown University (previously Instructional Technology Specialist at UMW). recently gave presentations that constituted a panel at the 2019 Computers and Writing Conference, held at Eastern Michigan University in East Lansing, MI in June 2019.

The panel, entitled “The Digital Studies 101 Website: Developing and Using an Ethical ‘Un-Textbook,’” described teaching Digital Studies 101 at UMW using the Digital Studies 101 DGST101.net website, which is a common, free, open educational website used in lieu of a physical textbook. In describing the development and uses of the UMW Digital Studies 101 website, the panel addressed the ethical priorities, pedagogical benefits, and curricular opportunities for UMW’s Digital Studies program. The presenters described the programmatic history and impetus for the initial development of the website; presented on continuing development, instructor use, and pedagogical implications of the website; and addressed student use of the website.

Associate Professor of English Zach Whalen

Associate Professor of English Zach Whalen

The DGST101.net OER resource has had 30,000 visits since 2016 and supports the #OpenEdVA initiative and the Commonwealth’s goals around open educational resources (OER).

This trio also presented a poster on this same topic at the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) in Pittsburgh, PA, in July 2019. There they had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Digital Humanities faculty and staff from around the world.

At the same conference, Blevins also presented her project “Developing Avatar Ethos in Mixed Reality Protests” analyzing the rhetorical strategies recent protesters in Spain, France, and South Korea employed using Mixed Reality, a medium that combines virtual elements with material objects. When in-person gatherings have been legally banned or prohibited by such existential threats as terrorism, protesters have used digital technology to create virtual avatars for demonstrating at physical protest sites. While the three analyzed protests all successfully used Mixed Reality to achieve traditional protest aims related to political and environmental activism, these technologies in the future could be disrupted or employed by counter-protesters, to attack or misrepresent protesters, or otherwise subvert demonstrations.

Finally, at the same conference, Whalen also presented a paper as part of a cross-institutional panel on “What Do We Teach When We Teach DH across Disciplines?”

Blevins’ Dissertation Garners Honorable Mention

The dissertation of Brenta Blevins, assistant professor of English, entitled “From Corporeality to Virtual Reality: Theorizing Literacy, Bodies, and Technology in the Emerging Media of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities,” received honorable mention designation for the 2017 Computers and Composition Hugh Burns Dissertation Award, as announced at the 2018 Computers and Writing Conference in Fairfax, VA. This award acknowledges and supports the growth of scholarship, research, and teaching in the field of Computers and Composition Studies.

Blevins’ dissertation examines Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality texts and their rhetorical and composing strategies, situates VR, AR, and MR into a continuum of communication practices using a range of classical and contemporary theories, and concludes with pedagogical approaches for incorporating these media into classroom assignments. Blevins completed her dissertation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro under the direction of Stephen Yarbrough and graduated in May 2017.

Whalen, Blevins, and Skallerup Bessette Present at Computers and Writing Conference





Skallerup Bessette

Zach Whalen, Associate Professor of English; Brenta Blevins, Assistant Professor of English; and Lee Skallerup Bessette, Instructional Technology Specialist, recently gave presentations that constituted a panel at the 2018 Computers and Writing Conference, held at George Mason University.

The session was titled “Locating Digital Writing Space,” and the presenters talked about the origins of the Console Living Room project, using Augmented Reality with students to expand and complicate their sense of that space, and the ethos of Domain of One’s Own as digital writing space.

Blevins Interviewed by Chilean Newspaper

Brenta Blevins, Assistant Professor of English, was recently interviewed by the Chilean newspaper La Tercera about futurism. The article is accessible at