Cover letter post-PhD

Department of English and Comparative Literature 220 McMicken Hall 2700 Campus Way University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH  45221-0069  

November 6, 2014

Department of English and Communication

University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash

348 Muntz Hall

Blue Ash, OH 45236

Dear Members of the Search Committee,

I am writing to apply for the position of Assistant Professor of English with specialization in Developmental Writing advertised at www.jobsatuc.com. I completed my doctoral studies in August 2014, and earned my Certificate in Adult/International TESL in 2013. Currently, I am an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati’s Main Campus, where I am teaching and developing courses for intermediate and advanced students in the field of ESL writing. The position of Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash is extremely attractive to me because it will allow me not only to teach and develop classes in developmental writing, but also to engage and contribute to high quality professional and scholarly conversations about program assessment and innovative composition teaching.

In part inspired by my own experience as an international student, and in part invoked by my chance to teach an Intermediate French class at Louisiana State University, I have been compelled to expand my expertise in the field of literacy and second language studies, which led to my academic training in literary German-English translation, and my subsequent specialization in Adult/International TESL with focus on reading and writing in 2010. At Louisiana State University and the University of Cincinnati, I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to teach courses ranging from freshman writing to intermediate and advanced college composition courses, as well as literature classes. I have taught special emphasis and service learning composition classes, which not only assist in building student community, but also encourage students to recognize the role writing plays in civic responsibility and social identity. At the University of Cincinnati, specifically, I have taught several writing courses for international students as part of the Main Campus’s academic English as Second Language program. My commitment to individual mentoring was recognized institutionally in 2012, when I was one of twelve graduate students selected to participate in UC’s Graduate School Mentoring Program, a summer program devised to familiarize an undergraduate student to the conventions and tools of a discipline’s trade while developing and overseeing the student’s research project.

My research deeply interconnects with my teaching practices, and I have had great success designing and teaching composition courses with intersecting themes of literacy, class, ethnicity, and gender as cultural practices informed by how language and rhetoric work as production in everyday life. Particularly, the relationship between language and prejudice has led to exciting and engaging classroom discussions with “aha” moments about the power of language. Making the transition from sometimes foreign education systems to college writing in the U.S., I invite students to explore the conventions of new and unfamiliar genres of writing, while tackling the challenges that everyday college life can pose for (international) students. Meeting one-on-one with struggling students is one example of how I offer students my assistance outside of the classroom. I truly enjoy working with a diverse student population, and I embrace the challenges of mentoring students with varying degrees of preparation for college-level work and writing proficiency levels, as a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor. These successful pedagogical experiences are indicative of my range and ability when it comes to teaching and mentoring, which makes me confident that I can immediately make a valuable contribution to the Developmental Writing curriculum and pedagogical environment of University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, in both the composition sequence courses and more specific courses centered on developing writing fluency in preparatory writing classes. I am enthusiastic about contributing my composition and ESL writing expertise to ENGL 0097: Introduction to Academic Literacies, ENGL 1000: Introduction to Composition, ENGL 1001: English Composition, and ENGL 2089: Intermediate Composition, as well as designing writing classes with service learning components.

My commitment to communal learning and teaching has been further strengthened by serving on the Composition Advisory Faculty Committee, where I worked with humanities faculty to set the future writing curriculum at Louisiana State University. In addition to taking numerous critical pedagogy courses at the graduate level, I have served as Consultant in the College of Arts & Sciences Writing Center at UC, as well as Professional Development and Pedagogy Chair for Louisiana State University’s Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Organization, and I currently co-organize an informal, bi-weekly meeting with ESL instructor colleagues to discuss effective teaching strategies in developmental writing classes, especially in light of how technology is changing the teaching landscape. In this regard, I have found UC’s Faculty Development workshops offered through the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning to be indispensable resources to stay current on new developments, such as the usefulness of e-portfolios for student learning. I would welcome the opportunity to contribute to active discussion of this kind among scholars and teachers at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash. I also hope to place my international background, advanced knowledge of foreign languages, and cross-cultural competencies in the service of UC Blue Ash in the organizing and promoting of the Study Abroad Program.

My recent focus has been on instructional design and technology, including online pedagogy, course redesign, and integration models for technology-enhanced instruction in both face-to-face and blended learning environments. As part of my online pedagogy professionalization, I am completing training to become a peer reviewer for Quality Matters on Nov. 7, 214. Through this training, I aim to offer students relevant multi-modal instruction based on national standards, while developing community-based educational media projects. For example, such a project could take the form of producing a Facebook page for a local non-profit organization, not only to foster civic and consciousness-raising engagement in students, but also to teach ethical and responsible ways to employ social media as a pedagogical tool. Social media plays an important role in contemporary resistance movements, as I illustrate in chapter 4 of my dissertation project, “Environmental Justice and Paradigms of Survival: Unearthing Toxic Entanglements through Ecofeminist Visions and Indigenous Thought,” which reflects my interdisciplinary research and teaching interests in ecocriticism, animal studies, Indigenous theorizing, gender studies, and twentieth/twenty-first century Transnational literature and culture. Methodologically, my study works to decenter dominant discourse about epistemology to privilege those voices usually not heard, mainly voices from the global south and minority groups. In my fourth chapter, I discuss how a small group of Aboriginal land owners successfully fight off multinationals and government attempts to exploit the uranium-rich land, partly through the strategic use of social media and campaigning. Excerpts from my dissertation manuscript are being prepared for circulation.

The trajectory I see developing throughout my dissertation work and ESL certification and teaching is an in-depth grappling with knowledge production and notions of effective learning from a variety of perspectives and vantage points, and therein lies my unique contribution to your department: my ability to bring together strands of literary critical theory, literacy and rhetorical studies, and critical pedagogy, with the goal to effectively relate to students the many audacious ways words and rhetoric can be empowering them to become sensitive actors in their communities and their own professional lives.

I would be grateful for the opportunity to discuss my qualifications at greater length…….

Yours sincerely,

Julie Berthoud