Current Research Projects

Faculty Identity Construction
Molly Scanlon, PhD; Claire Lutkwitte, PhD; Juliette Kitchens, PhD; Allison Brimmer, PhD

In this collaborative research project, four assistant professors of writing from Nova Southeastern University are investigating the experiences of new faculty (tenure- or non-tenure-track assistant professors in their first three years of full time employment) in order to understand the phenomenon of professional identity construction, from academic training (graduate school, etc.) to the job search experience, to the first few years of full-time appointment. In order to learn about the commonalities among experiences through this professional transition, we will poll a large, representative population of colleagues in writing studies in their first three years ofemployment. We will then follow up with personal interviews to explore more specific tactics faculty use to construct a professional identity through teaching, research, and service in their transition from junior colleagues to professionals in faculty positions. The innovative research methods involved in this project have promise for broadly-impacting outcomes and longitudinal data collection for future research.

Previous Research Projects

Multimodal Composition and the Rhetoric of Comics: A Study of Comics Teams in Composing
Doctoral Dissertation, Diana George, Virginia Tech
Passed Defense March 2013

The field of writing studies has long inquired about how writers engage in individualized writing processes. As an extension of this inquiry, contemporary scholarship in writing studies began to study collaborative writing through the understanding of writing as a social act. Our understanding of writing processes and collaborative writing has expanded through studies of writing as it occurs in the academy, the workplace, and extracurricular settings. Still, to a large extent, inquiries about writing processes and collaborative writing activity centered on alphabetic texts and focused on writers. Rarely do studies engage—in addition to writers—artists and designers as authors in the collaborative writing process. Composing, as understood by scholars and teachers of writing, is changing due to technological shifts in media and yet, as a field, we have failed to question multimodal composing as an individual or collaborative process.

To extend previous writing studies scholarship, this dissertation engages qualitative case study methodology to explore three unique multimodal collaborations of comics authors. As a visual rhetoric scholar with a personal focus on teaching students about composing in all media, I am drawn to asking questions about how arguments are composed using multimodal means. My personal and scholarly interest in comics led to inquiries about how comics are composed and initial research found that comics are often composed in collaboration, with writers and artists who with them carry multiple and varying literacies (alphabetic text, visual, spatial, etc.). Comics provide a rich subject of study to address this inquiry because of their inherently multimodal nature as a medium that incorporates both word and picture in diverse combinations and for a variety of rhetorical purposes. For this study, I have chosen to focus on comics texts that differ in terms of subject matter, genre, and collaborative makeup in order to examine multimodal collaborations and create distinct cases. Through three cases of multimodal collaboration—Understanding Rhetoric, the Cheo comics, and Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline—this study argues for a further complication of our field’s understanding of writing processes and collaborative composing.

Publications in Process

Forthcoming. Scanlon, Molly. “The Work of Multimodal Composition: Comics Collaborations and Their Implications for Writing Scholarship and Pedagogy.” Composition Studies, 43.1 (Spring 2015).

Forthcoming. Scanlon, Molly. “Review of The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking.” ImageTexT.


Ekoniak, Mike, Jean Mohammadi-Aragh, and Molly Scanlon. “Work in Progress: Improving Student Writing Through Multiple Peer Feedback.” 2013 Frontiers in Education: Energizing the Future. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Anthony, Libby, Kathy Kerr, and Molly Scanlon. “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Community Literacy: An Interview with Eli Goldblatt.” Reflections. 12.1, 91-108. Spring 2012. Featured on journal website:

Scanlon, Molly. “Comics, Journalism, and War Discourse.” Public Knowledge Journal. 3.1, May 2011.

Research Interests

  • Multimodal literacy studies
  • Visual rhetoric
  • Collaborative Composition Processes
  • Dominant Discourse and alternative discourses
  • Writing in the disciplines
  • Place-based Multiliteracies (visual and aural)