Ryan Crawford, Ph.D.

Ryan Crawford, Ph.D. Image
Director of First Year Writing

English Department
College of Arts and Sciences

Ph.D., Rhetoric and Composition, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

M.F.A., Creative Writing, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

TESOL Certificate, TEFL International

B.A., Marketing, Clemson University

About Ryan

Beyond preparation for academic writing, the first-year writing (FYW) classroom has become an important threshold of critical thinking, a space in which students can begin to question the power structures surrounding them, and how those structures have functioned in the making of meaning. Through this examination, students begin to transfer some of that power back to themselves, with increased agency in the creation of future versions of the self, and a more ethical approach to the messages they create and share with the world.

To achieve this, however, there must be not only motivation, but intrinsic motivation. This has guided my developing pedagogy, which focuses on intrinsic motivation, eudaimonic reward, and exploratory rather than consummatory desire. By early encouraging examination of self and desire in the classroom, as well as recognizing the value of student interest and curiosity, these components converge to sustain motivation as students begin researching and composing on topics which matter to them, and which will in some way further their personal and professional goals.

My research utilizes the consilience approach of Edward O. Wilson, and Karen Barad's diffractive methodology to combine scholarship from the fields of composition, neuroscience, education, psychology, and philosophy to further examine the concepts of self and agency within a posthuman understanding of discourse as ongoing emergence from intra-actions. At the core of this is a neurobiological understanding of plasticity, the ability of the brain and body to materially change due to the ongoing confluence of internal and external stimuli. This provides an important materialist account of self as becoming, simultaneously reflected in self as distributing: in other words, how self affects material changes in others, whether human or nonhuman. Each "agential cut" (Barad, 2007) results in a cascade of material plastic change. This enriches our understanding of discourse, rendering every movement, thought, and action a material process: intra-action of matter continuously creating meaning. By viewing “worlding” at the macro level as observable plasticity we are given tangible structures which can be objectively studied, which I view as an important development in the future of composition studies.

Peer Reviewed Publication

Crawford, Ryan and Andreas Willhoff. “Stillness in the Composition Classroom: Insight, Incubation, Improvisation, Flow, and Meditation.” Journal for the Assembly of Expanded Perspectives on Learning, vol. 19, 2014, pp. 74-83.