Research Statement

My interest in classical Greek theories of visuality, epistemology, and culturally shared knowledge began with an interest in contemporary neurosciences. While exploring the connections between online education and embodied learning, I began to read about mirror neurons in the human brain. Some scientists hypothesized that the presence of mirror neurons in human brains led to the social development of language and empathy as possible extensions of those neurons’ functions[1],[2]. At the same time, I was struck by the interchangeability of seeing and knowing in Greek rhetorical texts, and I wanted to research the ways in which the Greeks of more than 2,000 years ago might reflect forthcoming work in neuroscience research.

My research began with an exploration of the ways in which classical Greek rhetoricians theorized the cognitive functions of visuality and language and then extended the scope of analysis to concerns of shared cultural memories and ideologies. A key component of my research centers on the attempt to understand how the work of language, social groups, and communication interrelate in Greek thought and how the influence of those epistemological theories affects scientific inquiry today.

This project complicates the ways in which rhetorical theory is categorized. Rather than considering visual rhetoric as a distinct field from traditional, verbal text-based rhetorical studies, this project explores the ways in which visual and verbal modes of thinking are interconnected and how ways of knowing are bilaterally constructed through the interrelation of word and vision. By bridging these two areas of rhetorical study and arguing that verbal rhetoric can instantiate internalized, visual phenomena for audiences, the dichotomy of verbal and visual is problematized.

[1] Rathgeber, Benjamin, and Mathias Gutmann. “What is Mirrored by Mirror Neurons?” Poiesis & Praxis 5 (2008): 233-247.
[2] Iacoboni, Marco. “Imitation, Empathy, and Mirror Neurons.” Annual Review of Psychology 60 (2009).

Publications

“A Writing-about-Writing Approach to First-Year Composition.” (with Daniel V. Bommarito). Syllabus Journal v. 6, no. 2, 2017.

“ASU Writing Programs in the Department of English.” (with Shirley K Rose and Susan Naomi Bernstein). Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research. Bryna Siegel Finer and Jamie White-Farnham, editors. Utah State University Press, 2017.