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6 J o n at h a n A l e x a n d e r DOI: 10.7330/9781607326625.c006 JONATHAN ALEXANDER is chancellor’s professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, where he also serves as the campus writing coordinator and director of the Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication. He is the author, editor, or co-author of eleven books, has guest edited nine special issues of journals, authored or coauthored over fifty articles, and is general editor of College Composition and Communication. Alexander’s notable publications include Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self, co-authored with Jacqueline Rhodes, Computers and Composition Digital Press, which won the 2016 Lavender Rhetorics Award, and On Multimodality: New Media in Composi­ tion Studies, which won the 2015 CCCC Outstanding Book Award and the 2014 Computers & Composition Distinguished Book Award. He is also a three-time recipient of the Ellen Nold Award for Best Articles in the field of Computers and Composition Studies. Originally a scholar of comparative literature, Alexander became interested in composition as a field during his first position at a regional Colorado State University campus in Pueblo. After teaching in a computer lab for the first time, Alexander’s early writing studies research focused on using computers to teach writing and later focused on intersections between sexuality, technologies, and writing. His interview took place July 23, 2013, via Skype. christine: You’ve argued with Jaclyn Rhodes in “Queer: An Impossible Subject for Composition” that the relationship, the intersections between rhetoric and writing and queer studies are relatively sparse and under read. How are you working to make these connections more explicit in rhet-comp projects such as Understanding Rhetoric guide for first-year writers or the On Multimodality text about to come out? jonathan: That’s a great question, and one that I think about a lot because I know that if one were just to look at my list of publications, I could certainly be accused of being all over the map. It looks like Jonathan Alexander   73 I pull from and contribute to a lot of different strains and conversations that occur broadly in English studies, in the humanities, and within comp-rhet. From inside, [laughs] I actually feel like I’m writing about the same thing over and over and over again, just with a different emphasis. christine: How so? jonathan: You mentioned the Understanding Rhetoric text. That is not a text that is explicitly about sexuality or that is explicitly grappling with issues of sexual discourses or sexual literacies as I call them, and yet, that text, in my mind, was absolutely informed by my work in sexuality studies and in thinking of sexuality studies through writing studies. For example, my co-authors and I have an entire chapter just on identity, the importance of thinking about a writer’s identity and the performance of identity, and how writers can adopt and take on different identities in order to generate different kinds of knowledge. We use as an example Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed, where she becomes a menial laborer, so that she can learn, in an embodied way, what it means to be in the working class in the country. christine: It’s a very specific example that students can understand. jonathan: It’s not explicitly about sexuality. The notion that we can learn through the body, learn by taking on other roles, by playing with identity seems to me something that I very much take with me from my studies in sexuality and informs my understanding of performativity . In my research, my appreciation for how an identity shapes what one can know and the insights that one can generate from that perspective. Does that make sense? christine: It does. Now that you mention this as your guiding principle when writing, I can see there is clearly a deliberate way of approaching them. Even if this overall thread remains the same, how does it play out when you compose in different mediums, such as print or graphics or digital spaces? Does your writing process differ depending on the end medium? jonathan: [laughs] Yes. Absolutely. I am probably pretty traditional as an academic, in terms of thinking about what I want that end product to be. Maybe I actually shouldn’t say that. I don’t know if it’s traditional or not. Probably your project will tell me. [laughs] christine: I guess we’ll see. [laughs] jonathan: It seems...


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