Hi, welcome to my professional portfolio. I’m Douglas M. Walls and I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at North Carolina State University. My research interest is in digital rhetorics and user experience (UX) particularly in social networks and social justice contexts. My work has appeared in both traditional and new media forms in Computers and Composition, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, and The Journal of Business and Technical Communication.
Download my C.V. in PDF format.
Douglas Walls, PhD
Douglas M. Walls
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 8105
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105
firstname.lastname@example.org // 1 (919) 515-4235 // @wallsdouglas
North Carolina State University
Assistant Professor: Dept. of English (2016 – )
Core Faculty: Communication, Rhetoric, & Digital Media(CRDM) program (2017 – )
University of Central Florida
Assistant Professor: Dept. of Writing & Rhetoric (2011 – 2016)
Core Faculty: Text & Technology program, College of Arts & Humanities (2011 – 2016)
Core Faculty: Digital Humanities minor, College of Arts & Humanities (2012 – 2016)
Faculty in Residence: McNair Scholars Program (2013 – 2016)
Michigan State University
Tier 1 & Professional Writing Instructor: Dept. of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (2006-2010)
Research Assistant: WIDE (Writing in Digital Environment) research center (2007-2008)
University of Nevada
Writing Tutor: Writing Center (2005-2006)
Speech Communication Instructor: Dept. of Speech Communication and Theatre (1999-2002)
Digital rhetoric and user experiences (UX) for traditionally underrepresented groups; digital humanities pedagogies; social justice and UX.
Ph.D., Rhetoric & Writing: Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing. 2011.
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
Committee: William Hart-Davidson (Chair), Dànielle DeVoss, Jeffery Grabill, and Malea Powell.
M.A., English: Writing. 2006.
University of Nevada, Reno, NV.
M.A., Speech/Communication. 2002. University of Nevada, Reno, NV
B.A., Dual Major, Speech/Comm. and Theatre. 1999. University of Nevada. Reno, NV
- Research Projects
My primary research lies in digital rhetorics and user experience (UX) or Experience Architecture (XA) particularly in social networks and social justice contexts. For example, in “Access(ing) The Coordination of Writing Networks,” which received Honorable Recognition in the 2015 Ellen Nold Award for the Best Article in Computers and Composition studies, I use case study to think about digital and professional access in ecological ways across user and lived experiences. The article contributes to technical and professional communication theory by locating the coordination between professional/personal discourses in and away from social media networks.
My work has appeared across different kinds of media and genres including creative scholarship, peer reviewed articles and book chapters, special issues, and new media pieces.
In "The Professional Work of 'Unprofessional' Tweets" I draw on a situational analysis methodology to understand the tactical online rhetorical choices of a young African American professional communicator, “Gina”. I draw on situated analysis to show how Gina engaged in her particular African American Hush Harbor (AAHH) of young African American professionals online. I make the argument that Twitter was used to maintain professional network ties in Gina’s AAHH community while resisting organizational discourses of surveillance. I further argue that analyzing particular choices in “boundaryless career” situations allows us to see important non-task based professional writing activity.
I am interested in the possibilities for technical/professional communication to not just critique but do social justice work though the design of user experiences. I have worked with graduate students on two activist application projects. Fair & Square is part of Michael Salvo and Liza Pott's Rhetoric and Experience Architecture where we wrote about a mobile application design that relies on the engagement of restaurant consumers. The goal of Fair & Square is activism through the procedural rhetoric of the leverage of consumers choices to support businesses that support fair labor for farm workers. Through the app consumers can become low barrier organized "activists," by electing to support local restaurants, grocery stores, or markets based on how restaurants and markets source their food stuffs and the personal cost to the farm workers who sourced them.
Safely Social is a contextually-designed smartphone application design project informed by feminist theory developed in an effort to decentralize and redistribute power. Specifically, Safely Social seeks to ease location-based services’ adverse effect on domestic violence survivors by disrupting abusers’ power who can utilize location-based services as a means for tracking survivor social and geospatial activity. The design of Safely Social emerged from feminist standpoint theory, user-centered design, and activity theory in order to provide a contextual understanding of domestic violence survivors’ perspectives and experiences. I see both of these projects as part of a growing scholarship dedicated to making digital artifacts that focuses on the alignment of human social interactions and relationships as well as user experience and experience architecture.
Increasingly, we find that small organizations and even individuals negotiating self-representations in organizations and user experiences in digital networked contexts. For example, my professional writing focused article “Distributed Value System Matrix: a new use for distributed usability testing,” (Walls, 2007) explores how User-Centered Design (UCD) principles, specifically those principles that view design through the lens of distributed usability, should be at the center of research into how organizations determine and value writing work. Based in activity theory, my argument for such an approach is that UCD principles, grounded in notions of Distributed Usability, function well as a research method to determine organizational values that may be invisible or ill defined. Since that article, my focus has shifted more towards individual knowledge workers mediated social network activity as they negotiate transorganizational and cultural complexities.
Rhetoric & Digital Humanities
In my book chapter in Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities from the University of Chicago, I use “In/Between Programs: Forging a Curriculum between Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities,” to key in on moments of intersection and tensions between DH and Rhetoric as expressed through curricular decision-making. In that piece, I map both the spaces for alliance building but also the real tensions in larger concerns that face both Digital Rhetoric and Digital Humanities such as to the role of critical theories in research as well as institutional positionality, representation, and legitimacy. I argue that if rhetoric/composition studies and the digital humanities listen to each other, we can help each other not only in understanding tensions between praxis and gnosis but also in making many curricular decisions.
Computers and Writing
For The Infrastructure of Space: Expanding Writing Classroom Activity into the Extracurriculum" my coauthor and I explored ways of hacking the virtual space of classrooms. We considered how digital objects such as digital mapping tools and learning management systems can allow students and their work to shift and move through the physical walls of their assigned classrooms. Through the lens of actor network theory, the authors argue that digital tools can act as activity-generating objects, but only if—and when—networks of people and activities around those objects exist in a way that invite opportunities for meaningful writing work.
I was fortunate enough to receive Honorable Recognition for the 2015 Ellen Nold Award for the Best Article in Computers and Composition studies for my article Access(ing) the Coordination of Writing Network, where I engaged the discussion of access within the field of computers and writing and revisit the issue of the digital divide. My discussion of access focuses on operationalizing access as what Annette Powell calls “access(ing)” (2007), a process of enacting and coordination between humans and nonhumans. Drawing on Actor-Network Theory and digital literacy narrative methodology, I present the story of Diana as a problematic case study through which I ask scholars to think about accessing in deeply ecological and newly traceable ways. I end by noting that stories like Diana’s challenge researchers to think of accessing as enacted, distributed, and traceable across networks.
My research matters to computers and writing primarily in terms of how we think about mobile technologies, space, and access. The research I am exploring about workspaces in nonwork places lead to my article, “Hacking Spaces: Place as Interface,” Walls, D. M., Schopieray, S., & DeVoss, D. N. (2009), on educational space, computer environments, and using the “hacker” mentality in low institutional power situations. In this article, we analyze the complex rationales—both transparent to us and, at times, made visible—underneath the instructional spaces in which we work and teach. To do so, we first situate space analysis in the larger, national conversations about instructional spaces and then through the work of computers and writing scholars. We conclude with an analysis of instructional spaces at our institution. We attempt to return to the roots of hacking and to situate hacking as a particular tool for negotiating and, at times, disrupting the assumptions built under, within, and across instructional spaces. I see more potential here to discuss the impact mobile devices have on writing pedagogy, designing spaces to support that use, and understanding the impact of spaces that cannot be redesigned.
I have explored the relationship between culture, professionalization, and technology in my own New Media work, especially the connections between culture, professionalism, and the rhetorical transformation of experience into useful knowledge making. My national award winning new media piece “An ‘A’ Word Production: Authentic Design,” Walls, D. (2008) for example, grew out of my own professionalizing and cultural experiences, “Authentic Design” embodies for me what my work with culture and technology is about. The translation of experience and the subversion of technological design, even very basic technological design, to accomplish rhetorical goals is in my mind, what access is about. New media projects intrigue at two levels important to my research goals. First, projects like “Authentic Design” do a tremendous amount of work to explain and make relevant complex connections between in professional writing, cultural rhetorics and technology in ways that make sense to people. That is to say, as I found with “Authentic Design” such projects can be accessible to a large number of audiences and build important allies. Secondly, the modes of production involved in such projects is a powerful learning and articulating experience for authors.
I am currently co-editing an edited collection on social media entitled Social Writing/Social Media: Pedagogy, Presentation, and Publics with Dr. Stephanie Vie under advanced contract with WAC Clearinghouse’s Perspectives on Writing book series.
My co-edited special issue "Because Facebook: Digital rhetoric/social media” (2015) was published in Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy and was well recieved.
I believe that, at its core, all writing instruction should be centered on the development of rhetorical tools for thinking about the articulation of experience, knowledge, tools, and action; in other words, writing instruction should be problem-based. To this end, I work with students to investigate points of articulation, in the sense of both “linking” and of “giving words to,” between our histories, ourselves, texts, and technologies. This involves two key design elements for me as an educator. First is a process that focuses on the translation of experience into usable knowledge and second the creation of texts, broadly defined, that aid in the translation of experience into usable knowledge for others.
Students do not arrive at an institution unshaped or uninitiated. They have experiences reforming, resisting, or reaffirming discourses. I am a builder of social and technological infrastructure designed to be useful long after our time in class is over. Learning should not be limited to time in the classrooms nor should teaching. To paraphrase John Dewey, I don’t teach subjects; I teach students. There is more than a semantic difference between the two. I ask students to make meaning in new and unfamiliar ways and to reorient the ways they already know. Whether I am designing classes or mentoring students, I build options for the rearticulation of those discoursal formations. I draw on theories of learning and culture that involve legitimate peripheral participation on the part of students at the classroom and mentoring level.
What does it look like in the classroom?
I see my teaching and my research as a deeply intertwined series of practices with the same political and educational commitments to access and pedagogical innovation. My class designs invite students to bring their own professional and personal worlds into projects in a rigorous way. Students’ conceptual worlds, discourses, and professional aspirations make up a large part of the content of my classes and become the rhetorical work we theorize about. For example, students are using Twitter to expand participation in the class beyond the geographic space of the university. If you were to attend my graduate course on social justice and usable design, you would see me helping my students navigate field research with populations of their own choosing but also building and designing design schematics for applications that addressed social justice needs. If you were to attend my Introduction to Professional Writing classes, you would see students thinking about, researching, designing, and creating textual and digital tools that not only articulate for users but also for themselves, employers, and professions.
What does it look like as a mentor?
As Faculty-in-Residence with McNair students, I advise young scholars about professional digital identity and help with the creation of multimedia representations of their work helping these young scholars negotiate, think about and make choices for themselves about their emerging professional-personal sense of self. We think about ways of code meshing and the decisions that come with competing discourses, through academic paper presentation, online persona management, or discussing the right way and challenges to “give back,” to their home communities. If you were to attend a meeting between me and one of these young scholars you would hear us discussing not just professional concerns but lifetime career issues.
I engage in the same sort of praxis that I try to help build for my students. This act of understanding is not easy. It is not a goal to be achieved but rather, in my mind, it is a way of building. It is a mindful mental state of action and reflection. I believe in presenting myself as receptive to other's identities, experiences, social subjectivities, and technologies, I invite students to participate in that act. This is how one obtains knowledge; in the act of attempting and reflecting in the real world.
North Carolina State University
- ENG314 Technical Document Design and Editing
ENG317 Designing Web Communications
ENG395 Rhetoric and Digital Media: User Experience
ENG508 Usability Studies for Technical Communication
ENG512 Theory and Research In Professional Writing
ENG519 Online Information Design and Evaluation
University of Central Florida
- ENC1101 Writing about Writing
(undergraduate // Su'12)
ENC1102 Writing, Rhetoric, and Research in New Forms
(undergraduate // F'11, S'12, S'13, S'14, S'15, S'16)
ENC3250 Professional Writing
(undergraduate // S'12, F'13, F'15 // F2F, hybrid, online)
ENC3836 Professional Lives and Literacy Practices
(undergraduate // F'14)
ENC3417 Literacy and Technology
(undergraduate // F'11, S'13, S'14, S'15, S'16 // F2F and hybrid)
ENC3433 Multimedia Writing & Composing
(undergraduate // S'15)
ENC4932 Writing in Digital Environments
(undergraduate // F'12, F15)
ENC5237 Writing for Business Professionals
(graduate // F'14 // online)
ENC6720 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition
(graduate // S'13)
ENG6939 Access, Social Justice, and Community Informatics
(graduate // F'13)
”I just wanted to send you an email to say thank you for being such a great teacher. I received one of the highest average lab report scores of all the students in my lab section, and a 100% on my research paper. Every source I used on the research paper I found in the online library resources you showed us for our long writing projects. Also, the first time I emailed you while taking your course, you sent me a link to an article about the proper way to email a professor. That article has proven to be very beneficial to me on multiple occasions. Once again, thank you so much for being an awesome professor.”
- undergraduate, two years after taking FYC course
"This course was extremely well organized. We were exposed to different theoretical approaches and design methodologies as we worked on our design projects. The blend of theory and design was very effective for learning both."
- graduate student
“My favorite thing is the professor . . . one thing he said that stuck with me is that 'I'd rather you be ambitious and fail than play it safe and succeed.'”
"Many class discussions and readings opend my eyes to some fascinating topics that I would not have explored without this course. This is one of the best compliments I can ever give about a course, as in my opinion, it’s one of the most important things a university can offer.”
- graduate student
"I enjoy how he creates an environment in which we explore the topics and decide how we want to learn it and apply it. We structure our own understanding of the material and it stays with us more because its personal. I really, really like that.”
“The course really 'came together,' in its last meeting. It seems Dr. Walls is almost better than he knows, quite frankly. The final class meeting acted as a sort of a 'prestige' to a rather elaborate, semester-long magic show. Such a show is impressive.”
- graduate student