Josh Mehler joins the Writing Program after completing his Ph.D. degree at Florida State University, where he focused on new media, writing and technology, and history of composition. Originally from Canada, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Language and Literature at the University of Windsor.
Teaching in the First-Year Composition program while studying for his master’s degree was a transformative experience, according to Josh. He describes how he “fell in love with the teaching of writing,” and became curious about how technology’s role could help support student engagement.
At Florida State, Josh taught courses for the Editing, Writing, and Media (EMW) major. In one course for seniors, digital design technology played a crucial role in the class projects. Students wrote, edited and designed chapters for a “grammar handbook” for new EWM students using Adobe InDesign. Josh observed that “students really began to understand and put into practice how text and visual design function together and influence each other.” Josh also began to explore how different tools affect students’ composing experiences and processes. In a course called Writing and Editing in Print and Online, he invited students to compose using a different technology each week—from the ancient tools of clay and stylus to the more modern pencil and typewriter—and to consider how different technologies were suited for different rhetorical situations.
Teaching undergraduate courses ultimately influenced the topic of Josh’s dissertation, “Mobile Vulgus: Everyday Writing, Portable Technology, and Counterpublics.” This work focuses on writing from three different historical timeframes, and the alternative discursive communities that formed around a writing technology within each period. Josh is in the process of developing two articles based on his dissertation, one focusing on printed texts of 19th century amateur journalists, and another focusing on the multimodal compositions of guerrilla television collectives in the 1970s. He sees the writing activities he studies as relevant to the classroom in that they can illuminate ways to foster more publicly-engaged, self-sponsored, and technologically-savvy composition practices.
While studying for his Ph.D., Josh was also an assistant to the Writing Program administrator, helping with tutor training, maintaining the First Year Composition website, and serving as co-leader for the First-Year Composition Committee. He was also an assistant in the Rhetoric and Composition Program, helping to organize events and leading a graduate interview course.
Josh is moving to Santa Barbara with his wife, Greer, a sculpture/installation artist. They first met at Florida State in a graduate geography class--a collaboration among artists, geographers, and rhetoric/composition students. Josh and Greer are both major foodies and wine-buffs so they’re excited to explore what California has to offer. Josh has also started to learn kendo--Japanese sword fighting--and is looking forward to taking it up again in Santa Barbara.
Josh will teach Approaches to University Writing, Academic Writing, Rhetoric and Writing and Grammar and Stylistics.
Josh’s website:http:// www.joshmehler.net