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Two Members of ODU English Department Honored for Contributions to Rhetoric

By Jonah Grinkewitz

Two members of Old Dominion University's English department were recently recognized by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) for their research and contributions to the writing profession.

Danie Hallerman, a graduate student studying rhetoric and composition, won the Scholars for the Dream Award. This honor supports and encourages scholarship by historically underrepresented emerging scholars and connects them with some of the most prominent academics the writing field.

Louise Wetherbee Phelps, Scholar in Residence of rhetoric and writing, received the 2022 Exemplar Award, which recognizes individuals whose record is national and international in scope.

"The breadth and depth of Dr. Phelps' scholarly and programmatic contributions to the field, the legacy of her continued mentorship, and her ethic of 'slow composing' exemplify what the committee identified as a 'lifespan literacy' of service to the profession worthy of emulation," the CCCC said in a press release.

Phelps came to ODU in 2009 as a Visiting Scholar of rhetoric and writing. Before that, she taught at the University of Southern California and Syracuse University.

Over the course of her career, she was instrumental in developing and defining writing studies, rhetoric and composition as an independent field of study, particularly with her 1988 book, "Composition as a Human Science: Contributions to the Self-Understanding of a Field."

"After 50 years in the field, it is a huge honor to have my work recognized by my colleagues, to find myself in the company of so many scholars I admire and have learned from," Phelps said.

Kristi Costello, associate chair of Writing Studies, said she could not think of anyone more deserving for the award.

"The CCCC Exemplar Award is the highest honor an individual in our field can receive. It is given to only one person each year and an accomplishment very few folks in our field ever earn," she said.

At ODU, Phelps' biggest impact has been advising and mentoring doctoral students.

"I think what makes her presence so valuable is such vast experience in this field at a time when the field was only beginning to commit to a recognizable identity," said Miranda Egger, one of Phelps' doctoral students. "Her philosophical lens on the field is lofty, but lends itself beautifully to seeing the tenets of what it means to be a scholar in rhetoric, composition and writing studies."

Hallerman was honored for her thesis on the methods of teaching radical inclusion, which draws inspiration from critical pedagogy, disability studies, anti-racist pedagogy and feminist pedagogy.

"Danie Hallerman is the kind of graduate student and graduate teaching assistant we all hope for: hard working, enthusiastic, thoughtful, creative, independent, and kind," Costello said. "She thinks big, she works hard, and she is kind and helpful to others."

Hallerman plans to enter a Ph.D. program specializing in the teaching of composition after she graduates in May.

She said the award made her feel accepted in her field of study.

"Every student at some point in their academic career questions whether they belong in academia and academic spaces," she said.

Hallerman, who is Haitian American, added that coming from a marginalized group compounded her uncertainties: "This award, to a certain extent, substantiates not only my belonging, but also the necessity of my research and pedagogy."

Hallerman will receive her award and meet other recipients at a virtual "coffee hour" and reception on March 10. Phelps will receive her award at the virtual CCCC Awards Presentation on March 11.

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