Susan E. Thomas, Ph.D.
Susan is Founding Director of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Writing Hub and Writing Program. She was previously Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of Academic Writing in the new Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Network, which she helped to design. She remains an active member of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Committee.
Susan’s teaching and research have focused primarily on theories and practices of academic writing, grounded in rhetorical theory, but she is also interested in histories and theories of rhetoric; Writing Across the Curriculum; Writing in the Disciplines; writing center administration; literacy and technology; and cross-national communication and education.
Current Research Projects
Writing at the Center: A Global Perspective on Community Engagement
The purpose of this project is threefold: 1) to contribute to the archive of WPA, WAC, and Writing Center research through an international study that will inform writing scholarship and pedagogy on a global level; 2) to demonstrate the role of paid consulting work in developing community-based, global approaches to writing instruction; and 3) to create a professional development resource for WPAs, WAC, and Writing Center directors by providing a case study for establishing alternative and sustainable revenue streams.
This project argues for a community-engaged consulting-based approach to writing programs by outlining the ground-up development of The University of Sydney Writing Hub as a case study. The Writing Hub represents the first rhetoric-based writing program in Australia and has the dual role of housing a writing center and administering the University writing program. In addition to offering graduate and undergraduate courses and writing support services for students and faculty, the Writing Hub also offers consulting services, including document analysis and design and writing workshops, to schools and the professional community. The benefactor of a variety of disciplinary influences, the Hub fosters a confluence of diverse theoretical and pedagogical communities, both inside and outside the academy.
The Sydney Study of Writing: Five Year Longitudinal Study
This project is modelled on the Stanford Study of Writing and seeks to document the critical loop of secondary, tertiary, and professional writing, focusing on student transitions between each sector, in order to provide better writing support programs at the University.
Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Project
Susan is working with Stanford University and institutions around the world on the Stanford-based Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Project, which aims to increase global awareness within writing programs by developing cross-cultural curricula delivered in digital teaching environments. The project is funded by a Wallenberg Global Learning Network grant and aims ultimately to establish a physical Center for Cross Cultural Communication.
Writing at the Center: A Global Perspective on Community Engagement (Research Monograph in Progress).
“Multimodal Writing Instruction in a Global World,” with Angela Shetler, Frances Di Lauro, and Benjamin Miller. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy (Special Issue: Multimodal Research Within/Across/Without Borders). Forthcoming, May 2013.
“The View from Australia: First-Year Writing and the WPA Outcomes Statement”. The WPA Outcomes Statement: A Decade Later, Eds. Nicholas Behm, Gregory Glau, Deborah Holdstein, and Duane Roen. Parlor Press, 2012.
“Why Writing Skills are Under Threat,” with Benjamin Miller. Australian Higher Education Supplement, 17 November 2011.
“Students’ Texts beyond the Classroom: Young Scholars in Writing’s Challenges to College Writing Instruction,” with Doug Downs and Heidi Estrem. Teaching with Student Texts, Eds. Charles Paine, John Miles, and Joseph Harris. Utah State University Press, 2010.
“The Rhetoric of American Political Aspiration”, Rediscovering Rhetoric: Law, Language, and the Practice of Persuasion, Eds. Justin Gleeson, SC, and Ruth Higgins. Oxford UP, 2008.
“Spotlight on Academic Writing", Synergy, Vol. 28, 2008.
Ed., What is the New Rhetoric? Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007.
“Mentoring Across the Continents", Stories of Mentoring, Eds. L. Gaillet and M. Eble. Parlor Press, 2007.
“Rhetoric in the South Pacific”. International Encyclopedia of Communication, Ed. Wolfgang Donsbach. International Communication Association and Blackwell Publishing, 2007 (by invitation).
“Tragedy Into Grace: Lincoln at Gettysburg". Sydney Studies in English, Vol. 33, 2007. 78-95.
“Nothing Dirty About Rhetoric". Australian Higher Education Supplement. 7 September 2005.
“From Athens to Gettysburg: The Power of the Speech”. Creativity and Transformation: New Directions in English, Ed. Richard Madelaine. The English Association, Sydney, 2005.
“Words are Failing our Graduates”. Australian Higher Education Supplement. 14 July 2004.
Review of Plain Language for Lawyers, 3rd Edition, by Michele M. Asprey. Australasian Trade Practices Law Journal, Summer 2003.
“Teaching Academic Writing Using an Online Text," with Robin Breault. Conference Proceedings of ABC Conference; Nashville, TN; March 2000.
Selected Presentations and Workshops
"The WAC Clearinghouse Publishing Collaborative as a Vehicle for Fostering International Partnerships”, Addressing the Crisis in Scholarly Publishing Panel with Mike Palmquist, Chris Thaiss, Will Hochman, Pamela Childers, and Chuck Bazerman. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Las Vegas, NV, March 2013 (Forthcoming).
“Researching Approaches to Teaching Academic Genres in Diverse University Settings," with Helen Drury and Maree Stenglin. Genre 2012: Rethinking Genre 20 Years Later. Ottawa, Canada, June 2012.
“Creating Cross-National Gateways for Professional Development in Harsh Economic Times”. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). St Louis, MO, March 2012.
“Expanding Conversation(s): Principled Resources, Strategies, and the Council of Writing Program Administrators”. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Atlanta, GA, April 2011.
Facilitator, Pre-Conference Afternoon Workshop: "Mentoring, Publishing, and Celebrating Student Writing" (Chair: Jane Greer, University of Missouri - Kansas City). CCCC. Louisville, KY, 2010.
“Undergraduate Research that Shapes Writing Programs and Instruction,” with Doug Downs, ZuZu Feder, and Laurie McMillan. CWPA Conference. Philadelphia, PA, 2010.
Facilitator, Pre-Conference Morning Workshop: “International Writing Scholarship and Collaborative Research: Attending to the Waves Between Continents” (Chair: Tiane Donahue, Dartmouth University). CCCC. San Francisco, CA, 2009.
Facilitator, Pre-Conference Afternoon Workshop: “Making Cross-Cultural Connections: Global Learning in Composition Classes and Writing Centers” (Chair: Alyssa O’Brien, Stanford University). CCCC. San Francisco, CA, 2009.
“Researching Writing Through Virtual Exchange,” with George Pullman. Writing Research Across Borders Conference. Santa Barbara, CA, 2008.
“Breaking the Rules: Collaborative Writing in the Undergraduate Classroom". Australian Association of Writing Programs Conference. Canberra, ACT, 2007.
“Identifying Rhetoric and Composition, or Where the Bloody Hell Are We?” with George Pullman. CCCC. New York, NY, 2007.
“An American in Sydney: Writing Instruction in Australia”. CWPA Conference. Chattanooga, TN, 2006.
“Tragedy into Grace: Lincoln at Gettysburg” (“Speeches” Panel with Don Watson). Sydney Information Access. March 2006 (by invitation).
“Grappling with Audience: An Argument for Service Learning in the Professional Writing Classroom”. Australian Association of Writing Programs Conference. Perth, Western Australia, 2005.
"Texts, Technê, and Technology: Identifying the Goals of Advanced Technical Communication Courses". Modern Language Association Conference. Washington, D.C., 2005.
“Bridging the Gap: University English at the University of Sydney”. Modern Language Association Conference. Philadelphia, PA, 2004.
“Lost in Translation: Academic Writing and Professional Discourse". Australian Style Council Conference. Sydney, 2004 (by invitation).
“Fred Newton Scott: A Surprising Theoretical Ancestor of Professional Writing”. Georgia State University New Voices Conference. Atlanta, GA, 2001.
“Professional Writing and Social Epistemic Rhetoric: A Family Tree," with Robin Breault and Michelle Eble. Fifth Annual Western States Composition Conference. Arizona State University, Tempe, 2001.
“The Missing Link: Identifying the Learning Curve in Networked Writing Classrooms". Georgia State University New Voices Conference. Atlanta, GA, 2000.
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Initiative Award (with Angela Shetler), November 2012.
Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Sydney University, 2007. AUD $10,000.
Faculty of Arts Award for Excellence in Teaching (Innovation), 2006.
Georgia State University
Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition
University of Tennessee
Concentration in 19th and 20th Century American and English Literature
B.A. English and Music
Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching
Institute for Teaching and Learning, Sydney University
- National Council of Teachers of English (USA)
- Conference on College Composition and Communication (USA)
- Council of Writing Program Administrators (USA)
- Modern Language Association (USA)
- Australian Association of Writing Programs
- Australia-New Zealand Tertiary Writing Network
- English Teachers’ Association of New South Wales
- English Association, Sydney