Faculty News


Ryan Hatch, Cal Poly


Ryan Hatch

Ryan Hatch was awarded a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) fellowship to participate in the University of Chicago/DAAD Summer Faculty Seminar "Rethinking Performance in Theory and Practice." The Seminar gathered both theorists and practitioners of contemporary experimental performance in order to stage a dialogue on the state of the field and the future of its theorization.


Chelsea Milbourne

Chelsea Milbourne’s article "Disruption, Spectacle, and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Technical Communication" was named the Best Article Reporting Historical Research or Textual Studies in Technical and Scientific Communication in 2017. The award, granted by the Conference on College Composition and Communication, is the premier award in the field of Technical and Scientific Communication. Milbourne’s article was originally published in Technical Communication Quarterly (Vol. 25, Issue 2).


Jay Peters, Cal Poly


Jay Peters

Peters has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in collaboration with Dr. Yiwen Chiu in the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department. The grant is funded through NIFA’s Higher Education Challenge Grants Program, which aims to help higher education institutions create collaborations between agricultural science and the fields of education and the humanities. Chiu and Peters will receive approximately $140,000 over the next three years to pilot an undergraduate curriculum in environmental science and rhetoric. The curriculum will consist of required courses in environmental life-cycle analysis combined with courses in public rhetoric and environmental communication. Chiu and Peters plan to publish the results of this collaboration, contributing to the development of transdisciplinary approaches to agricultural sustainability at other institutions around the world. 

Todd Pierce, Cal Poly



Todd Pierce

Todd Pierce was awarded the Richard K. Simon Award for Outstanding Career Achievement in Scholarship. 



Catherine Waitinas

Catherine Waitinas, Cal Poly

Catherine Waitinas earned the 2017 Learn by Doing Scholar Award. 

Administered by Kennedy Library and a cross-college faculty committee, this award recognizes outstanding scholarship within Cal Poly’s signature Learn by Doing pedagogy.

Waitinas received $1,000 for her in-progress research, “Flipping Whitman: Collaborative Learn by Doing in the (Digital) Humanities.” Her work explores how digital manuscripts give students unique historical insights into Walt Whitman’s writing, comparing manuscripts with published poems.

Whitman reading, Cal Poly
Whitman reading


The unification of digital humanities with hands-on literary study has already received praise from the Modern Language Association and promises to expand applications for other new instruction methods.

Waitinas taught her digital Whitman course in spring quarter, and began the course with an outdoor reading of Leaves of Grass. 

Faculty Promotion

Congratulations to Paul Marchbanks, who was promoted to Full Professor.

Paul Marchbanks



Farewell to Johanna Rubba

Johanna Rubba, Cal Poly

Johanna has taught linguistics in the department since 1995. Over these past 22 years she has contributed significantly to our students, our department, and our university. By offering a wide range of linguistics classes to our majors and graduate students, Johanna has broadened their understanding of language and its structure. Johanna has not only been dedicated to students, however; she has also championed the rights of faculty and staff, particularly with respect to access and equity. She embarked on a multi-year project, for instance, to survey faculty and staff across the CSU with respect to disability issues and accommodations. During her tenure at Cal Poly she has served as an Academic Senator as well as an officer in the California Faculty Association, in addition to contributing to numerous committees inside and outside of the department. We wish her all the best in her retirement! 

New Faculty

Steven Ruszczycky

Steven Ruszczycky, Cal Poly


Steven Ruszczycky earned his Ph.D. in 2014 from the University at Buffalo in New York. Prior to that he earned his master's degree in English from the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand and his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Since leaving Buffalo, he was worked as a lecturer at Cal Poly in the departments of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as the program for Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts. His research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture, queer theory, and sexuality studies, with particular interest in the relationship between erotic practice and conventional forms of cultural production. His research has appeared in Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture, The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature (2014), and Porn Archives (Duke UP 2014), a collection of essays on the history and theory of pornography that he also co-edited. His current scholarship uses genre to consider the ways that literature and pornography together have mediated modes of queer male erotic practice during the late twentieth century. 


Roberta Wolfson

Roberta Wolfson, Cal Poly


Roberta Wolfson earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a creative writing emphasis and Chinese minor from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and her master's degree and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). She also holds a Certificate in College and University Teaching from UCSB. As an undergraduate student at UCLA, Roberta founded a student organization called The Writer’s Den, which connects UCLA students to local middle schools for the purpose of leading creative writing workshops and mentoring young writers. During her time at UCSB, Roberta served as the Graduate Research Fellow for the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, the Graduate Assistant for the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the English departmental representative for the Graduate Student Association, and her cohort representative on the Council of Graduate Students in the Department of English. Roberta’s research and teaching interests include U.S. minority literature (particularly African American, Asian American, and Chicana/o literature), speculative fiction, and popular culture. Her forthcoming article, “Chicano Gang Members at Risk: Containment, Flight, and an Alternative Vision of Sociality in Luis J. Rodriguez’s Always Running,” will be published in MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States next February. In her free time, Roberta enjoys teaching indoor cycling classes, playing soccer, and getting lost in a good novel. 


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