Patricia Fancher Joins the Writing Program

Patricia Fancher comes to the UCSB Writing Program from Clemson University where she earned her PhD in the interdisciplinary Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program. She also went to Georgetown University for her master’s degree in Communication, Culture and Technology. She researches feminist science studies, body rhetoric, and rhetoric of science.

In her dissertation, Trish studied the technical writing of Alan Turing, who contributed towards the invention of digital computation. One of the most interesting conclusions from this research is that, when writing about computing machines and machine intelligence, Turing considered these machines in human-like bodies, with human-like qualities including emotion. He even gendered these machines with feminine attributes. These feminine attributes have become part of the standard that defines intelligence in Turing's famous Turing Test for machine intelligence. The title of the dissertation is “Chiasmic Rhetoric: Alan Turing at the Intersection of Bodies and Writings.”

Trish taught first-year writing and technical writing at Clemson. Students in Trish's classes wrote for specific publications, including Wikipedia and Clemson's student newspaper, The Tiger News. Students found writing in Wikipedia the most challenging and also the most rewarding project of the semester. Trish also served as the assistant director of First-Year Writing. In this role, she assisted new TAs as they began teaching and she led a teaching practicum.

Last year Trish collaborated with an artist, Brent Pafford, on the Potent Object Project. This is a community art project that merges digital media, composition, and ceramic arts. After creating 500 ceramic mugs over their Christmas break, Trish and Brent distributed their mugs to first-year composition students in exchange for stories about their potent domestic objects. Then Trish and Brent created two digital media exhibits that highlighted the shared experiences and stories of the participants with their potent objects.

In coverage of the exhibit by Clemson University, Trish and Brent noted that the project “tests the notion that a mug can hold more than your coffee, hot tea, or a motley bouquet of pencils and pens. A mug … could also hold meaning. We grow attached to our mugs and include them in our everyday rituals, at work and at home. If we share a mug, or borrow one, or spill our secrets while we cling to one, the mug is also a conduit between people…potent objects.” Trish added: “We want to expand the notion of what it is to be an author. Authorship is not always about one individual controlling the work. Rhetoric and art are both inherently social. With this project, we are deliberately choosing to give up our authorial intent to 400 participants, which makes it far more interesting, I think, because it’s so massive.”

Trish will be teaching Academic Writing, Writing and the Research Process, Writing for Science and Technology, and Multimedia Writing. Trish's professional website is

She’s excited to move to the West Coast for the first time. She’ll be relocating with her partner, Per Hoel, who is a video editor and animator, and her cat, Ringo, who aspires to be internet famous.