Meet Gwendolynne Reid, the Director of the Writing Program, Assistant Professor of English, and Student Mentor at Oxford College of Emory University
Gwendolynne Reid is the Writing Program Director and an English Assistant Professor at Oxford College of Emory University. Gwendolynne is a faculty member and mentor who has encouraged many of her students to submit to Young Scholars in Writing, the most recent being Mercedes Sarah, the author of “Covert Resistance to #MeToo: The Uptake of Social Change and Public Anxiety in the Men’s Lifestyle Magazine Cover Genre,” in Vol. 20.
With five students published in recent years, Gwendolynne recognized their promise after seeing their work as assignments in her class. When they approached her with an interest in pursuing it further, she helped them in any way she could, from independent studies where they read more scholarship to develop their ideas to back-and-forth conversation about each version of the manuscript. As each manuscript went through one or more rounds of peer review in her classes, she was able to give further feedback through margins and meetings with the authors in preparation for submission.
One of the significant struggles that students often face when working with Gwendolynne is “how to put their work in conversation with that of others.” As all of her students are either first or second-year students, that is “the newest thing I have to support them in doing” throughout her mentorship. She has also had to support her students in building confidence in English as a second language and in developing their ideas enough to create a piece that adds to a larger conversation.
Gwendolynne thinks publishing research for students, faculty members, and their institution has many benefits. Even for many students who do not plan to pursue writing studies, “whatever the field, it can instill confidence that you are capable of saying something that matters within a larger intellectual conversation.” One of the most significant benefits is “realizing that you’re a thinker who matters and can make a difference in the world through research.”
Gwendolynne highly values the opportunity to learn “from and with students, because they often have expertise that I don’t have in their rhetorical world.” It also encourages her to research around their topic and understand those conversations and how readers may respond to them. “I feel like it keeps me alive as a researcher” by forcing her to stay current and be involved in wider conversations. Another benefit she values is communicating with her colleagues and introducing them to the field of rhetoric and writing studies by showing them “it is a serious area of research and one with many many opportunities for our students.” Finally, she uses these connections to improve the writing program at her institution and have others realize “it’s important to the liberal arts, not just in service of other disciplines, but as a discipline itself.”
She advises other faculty members who want more of their students to publish their work to think about it when designing their courses and assignments. “I think about building assignments that have flexibility so that, if a student really is passionate and wants to take it to the next level, they could be building a foundation in my course for something like that; thinking about introducing methods and genres and key pieces of literature and concepts, theories that they might be able to use, if they want to really did into a topic and research it and write for a larger audience.” She also advises to give feedback to any students who may be interested in taking their research to the next step, even if it is as simple as “Hey, you said something really important here; there’s a lot of promise. I think you could work on it and maybe send it somewhere.”
As a faculty member, Gwendolynne feels gratified to see her students’ work get published. “I really love helping my students act in the world, and I see research also as a way to act in the world and say important things.” She enjoys getting to help young writers and thinkers develop their ideas fully and share it with a broader audience. She also feels it is a way to pay back her many mentors who have believed in her, nurtured, and supported her intellectually by doing the same for her students. She also likes to keep in mind a piece by Downs et al. in the Naylor Report on Undergraduate Research in Writing that talks about consequential publicness which helps her think about the importance of undergraduate research and how it is essential for students to act in the world in a public way.
This post was written by Alex Merritt.