Writing and Rhetoric
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

2011 Projects

Michelle DiPenti

Communicating Federal Sustainability Mandates at an Architecture and Engineering Firm

This project focused on the development of a prototype e-learning session and reference documents designed to teach users about federal sustainability mandates as expressed in various public laws, executive orders, and agency documents. The project included research into professional writing and rhetoric methods as well as multimedia design methods and recommendations as well as interviews with subject-matter experts. The final products included the e-learning prototype, reference documents, and a report on the research and design process.

Deborah Dailey and Galynn Giusti

Core Competencies of Professional Communicators: A Survey of George Mason University Professional Writing and Editing/Rhetoric MA Graduates

In the field of technical and professional communication, there is an ongoing debate between academia and industry over what skills are necessary for professional communicators to succeed on the job; during the course of our graduate study at George Mason University we became interested in exploring how the program handled this issue. By interviewing alumni who have graduated within the last one to four years, we hoped to determine what skills they have identified as necessary for professional communicators in an entry-level position and beyond. The responses from the participants identified common skills that the graduates use and value, and our reports suggests that it would be beneficial for the MA in Professional Writing and Rhetoric to review and consider these responses.

Cassandra Horton

Writing without the Degree: How Professional Writing Skills are Learned Outside of the Professional Writing Classroom

Jack Lloyd

Expanding the Discursive Playing Field of Professional Sports Leagues and Discovering New Identities in the Apologetic Texts of the NBA and NFL

Based on a theoretical framework of identity construction and inter-discursive uses of language, this research examines how professional sports leagues participate in other discourses and construct identities that are separate from the long-held perceptions of these leagues. Focusing on the NBA and NFL, this study takes a discourse-analysis approach to the study of texts—including press conferences, interviews, and congressional testimonies—that serve as sites of identity formation for these organizations.

Christy Britton Seney

Identity and Invitation in Facebook Status Updates

The most commonly cited reason for using Facebook is to keep up with people; however, I believe more reasons for using the popular networking site exist. Through my research, I have found that in their posts, Facebook users engage two key rhetorical practices: invitation and identification. My analysis shows that status updates appear to align with the notion of invitational rhetoric or the concept of identification according to Kenneth Burke. At times, they demonstrate characteristics of both.

Elizabeth Stuart

Hillary Clinton and the Media's Reluctance for Gender Equality

This study focused on Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential candidacy and how the media's concentration on Clinton's gender ultimately undermined her campaign. Multiple media outlets were examined for occurrences of the mentioning of Clinton's gender and the subsequent effects that such gendering caused not only to Clinton's candidacy but also to the public as a whole. This study goes through specific examples of the gendering of Clinton, focusing on her appearance, emotions, and identities.

Melissa Webber

The Employee Manual: Its Purpose and Function in One Organization

Kaviesha Wijeyeskera

An Analysis of Sri Lankan Students' Facebook Posts: Using Facebook to Negotiate with a Multilingual World"

World Englishes scholars argue that academic writing should incorporate multiple ethnic Englishes so that students are better able to negotiate with a global population of multilingual speakers. By analyzing how Sri Lankan students communicated on Facebook, as a space where multiple languages come together, this project proposes that Facebook can be a space where students develop negotiation strategies for communicating with a multilingual population, and develop competencies to use language authoritatively by shuttling between languages.

Jael Zeballos

Unity, Idealized Identity and Cultural Pride: Community Building Among Latino Facebook Groups

Matt Zoller

Journalism Ethics Codes and the World Wide Web

Modern journalism ethics codes do not adequately address the challenges of journalism practiced online. Online journalism is more immediate, interactive and ubiquitous than older platforms (i.e. print and broadcast). Consequently, today's journalists face unfamiliar ethical situations when writing for the Web. I interviewed five journalists to learn their thoughts regarding the adequacy of traditional ethics codes and how they negotiate the ethical challenges of the Web. I discovered that the movement of journalism onto the Web continues to generate debate about whether or not traditional ethics codes can sufficiently account for newfound ethical issues. I advocate that we are in need of a new, unique set of codes to govern the immediacy, interactivity and ubiquity of online journalism.

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