Madison P. Jones

PhD, Rhetoric & Writing Studies


Teaching Philosophy
As a writing teacher, I am dedicated to preparing students for academic, professional, and civic writing lives. My experiences in writing classrooms over the past nine years have shaped my understanding of writing instruction as an ecological process. My courses challenge students to think of their worlds as rhetorical, to find meaning in their worlds through discourse, to participate in those worlds through writing, and to make their voices part of that composition, not external to it. I hope to demonstrate for students that writing and rhetoric are essential tools for translating complex information and data into meaningful stories about our lived experience. Practicing these skills mindfully helps us orient ourselves in the world. As such, studying rhetoric allows us to become more versatile communicators by developing how we understand and create our stories together.

Writing, like all forms of communication, is a situated practice. As such, I encourage students to focus on directly engaging with particular stakeholders and communities in their work, rather than imagining "the public" in the abstract. Communicating effectively often rests on establishing a reciprocal relationship between speaker and audience, and putting the needs of a particular group first helps us to know how to cultivate a conversation in our discourse. I encourage students to focus on audience and user experience as they design, make, and write.This translates into the revision process as well, where I ask students to "test" their writing in peer review, similarly to how marketing groups conduct product testing. Rather than thinking of revision as "correcting mistakes," peer review allows writers to collect data and home in on how their writing is working in a particular situation.

In the classroom, I work to cultivate these principles through a pedagogical focus on project-based learning and student-centered teaching. My courses emphasize how writing moves through the world by blending digital writing assignments with online discussion forums, digital media, and in-class discussions. I am inspired by the rich interdisciplinary backgrounds and diverse range of interests that students bring to the table. In all of my classes, students have the opportunity to work with different media and to try out different genres of writing, from creative approaches to science storytelling to critical engagement with public and academic writing. Students bring together their different strengths and perspectives to create a dynamic learning environment where we benefit from each other’s unique skills and expertise and all grow together as writers and makers. Through a situated approach to teaching writing, I encourage students to take a holistic approach to design, making, and writing. Altogether, my pedagogy works within the frameworks established by my program’s curricular needs and guidelines to encourage students to become innovative writers across modalities, genres, exigencies, and audiences.

Recent & Upcoming Courses

Below, you'll find a list of recent, current, and upcoming courses I offer at the University of Rhode Island through the departments of Writing & Rhetoric (WRT) and Natural Resources Science (NRS).

Graduate Courses

WRT 533: Graduate Writing in the Life Sciences (Offered every fall semester)

BES 521: Rhetorical Field Methods for Science Communication (Forthcoming Spring 2023)

NRS 568: Visualizing Environmental Advocacy (Spring 2021, Forthcoming Spring 2023)

Undergraduate Courses

WRT 334: Science Writing (Offered every fall semester)

Sample Course Archive

Below, you will find a selected list of courses I designed and taught as a graduate student at the University of Florida, with links to sample course materials, media, and abbreviated syllibi. For a complete record of my teaching experience and pedagogical research, visit my CV page.

Upper Division

Professional Communication

Professional communication is the study and practice of relaying technical information to a variety of audiences, including public, civic, academic, and workplace. This course provides instruction and practice in professional communication, focusing on clarity, design, and inventive techniques which are useful across professional writing environments. This course will model traditional professional documents, such as reports, letters, memos, and evaluations, which are part of everyday acts of professional communication, as well as professional job documents like resumes, cover letters, and professional websites. By writing within various professional contexts, students develop skills for communicating across professional writing environments. This course introduces you to adaptive practices and genres of writing which will serve writers throughout their careers, including in academia and industry.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  #UFProfComm (Class Twitter)  |  This Professional Life (Podcast Assignment)  |  Student ePortfolio Assignment  |  ENC 3250 Description

Advanced Exposition: Digital Rhetoric

Rhetorically, expository writing links to the Ancient Greek practice of ekphrasis, where writers sought to elucidate through the art of depiction. At that time, writing was a newly evolving technology, and it posed distinct problems and possibilities for rhetoricians. Similarly, the advent of digital networks calls into question the ways we define writing and rhetoric today. Mobile and wearable technologies present discrete opportunities and obstacles to distinctions of digital and non-digital spaces. With this ontological shift in mind, this course focuses on digital exposition as a rhetorical act. Through the tradition of exposition, students will define the exigencies facing writers in contemporary media environments by discussing and making digital texts. Students track, collect, and visualize data on the circulation of digital artifacts; use emerging technologies and tools for composition; and describe the impacts that digital technologies have on the rhetorical acts of exposition.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  #UFDigRhet (Class Twitter)  |  ENC 3310 Description

Advanced Argumentation: Posthuman Writing

Can animals reason? Do plants write? Do objects shape human agency? Can we separate the digital from the material? This course considers these and other questions through a diverse range of posthumanist theories. By tracing histories of rhetoric and writing which counter or trouble humanism (as set forth by students of Aristotle and Descartes) that deny agency to nonhumans, this course considers writing beyond, after, before, and even in opposition to humanism and the human. As we question the human as a stable category, we will encounter the persuasive possibilities of alogos, sensation, and affect and confront the limits of argumentation based on pure categories of (human) logic, reason, and rationality. Readings include works from classical and contemporary rhetoricians who engage the role of nonhumans in rhetoric and theorists of (post)humanistic inquiry. The course takes up posthumanism in relation to the study of writing and rhetoric.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  #UFPostHum (Class Twitter)  |  ENC 3312 Description

Lower Division

Technical (Sound) Writing

In recent years, podcasting has emerged as a popular media form. With their blend of audio content, mobile design, and wide variety of subjects, podcasts are an engaging and dynamic media. They employ the locative affordances of mobile media, giving users something to do while commuting, but they also tap into and create listening communities, such as with place-based series like S-Town and Up and Vanished. As writing professionals, we are constantly presented with new types of affordances, capabilities, and limitations of multimodal writing in new media. This course combines professional and public writing theories in a technical writing course focused on writing for podcasts. This course examines how podcasting offers opportunities for studying important concepts for the practice of professional writing. Readings connect public and professional writing to the emerging podcasting industry. Course assignments include writing proposals, elevator pitches, and delivering presentations as well as information design, content writing, and production for a podcast series.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  Podcast Assignment Website  |  ENC 2210 Description

Writing about Invention (Topics for Composition)

Writer’s block—the condition in which one is unable to invent new work—predates even writing itself. This frustrating phenomenon is familiar to both novice and expert writers. Even Socrates experiences it in Plato’s Phaedrus dialog. Invention (from the Greek invenire, “to find”) was one of the five canons of rhetoric. It was central to Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric, “discovering the available means of persuasion.” Indeed, some see it as the driving force behind the other four: arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. This course traces conversations about rhetorical invention from ancient Greece (and before), to romantic conceptions of the genius, and finally to contemporary discourse on composition theory. Through the lenses of academic disciplines, new technologies, and legal restrictions, we will consider who owns the rights to creativity and invention. The course will also challenge students to consider the ways in which we relegate concepts of creativity to certain disciplines and individualize the process of invention. Drawing from influential composition theorists and from creative writers talking about how they invent, we will examine process- and product-based models for composing.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  #UFDigRhet (Class Twitter)  |  ENC 1145 Description

Writing through Media: Visualizing Environments

Visual media played an important role in the emergence of the American environmental movements of the 1970s and 80s. Rhetorically compelling photographs of the earth from space, images of the surface of the earth, and visualizations of the ozone hole all helped catalyze a public environmental imagination. Today, digital media offer new ways to make ecological issues visible to publics. Eco-media writing focuses on digital representations of the environment, including technologies such as GIS maps, augmented reality, gaming, and image tracking. Course topics explore how environments are mediated and visualized in science and popular media. The course will also explore what it means to read and write in digital environments. Students will write across multimodal platforms, research environmental topics, and produce visualizations relating to environmental issues. The readings and assignments for this course include work in technology, sciences, and the humanities, and students can expect to gain interdisciplinary technical and rhetorical knowledge as they gain writing expertise.

Sample Course Materials

Abbreviated Syllabus  |  #UFVisEnv (Class Twitter)  |  ENG 1131 Description