Monthly Archives: November 2010

Kati Fargo, ABD

Last week the CRDM program welcomed its newest PhD candidate in Kati Fargo, the first member of her cohort (2008) to clear the prelim exams hurdle. Kati’s reading areas addressed material rhetoric, multimodal composition, and sound studies while her committee consisted of Susan Miller-Cochran (chair), Chris Anson, Vicki Gallagher, and Carolyn Miller. Kati now moves on to a zombie movie marathon her dissertation, titled “The Sounds of Rhetoric, the Rhetoric of Sound: Listening to and Composing the Auditory in Writing.”

Kati’s early success comes as no surprise to those of us who know her solid work ethic, a work ethic that helped her pass with flying colors and without any addenda.

Need more convincing that Kati is unflappably determined to work and stay ahead? She broke her thumb just a few weeks before her first written exam date and still wrote nearly 70 pages worth of answers with a cast on. 70 pages. 9 functioning digits. She’s like the grad student equivalent of “Rookie of the Year.”

12-year-old Henry Rowengartner, whose late father was a minor league baseball player, grew up dreaming of playing baseball, despite his physical shortcomings. After Henry’s arm is broken during a little league game, the tendon in that arm heals too tightly, allowing Henry to throw pitches that are as fast as 103 mph. Henry is spotted at nearby Wrigley Field by Larry “Fish” Fisher, the general manager of the struggling Chicago Cubs, after Henry throws an opponent’s homerun ball all the way from the outfield bleachers back to the catcher, and it seems that Henry may be the pitcher that team owner Bob Carson has been praying for. (IMDB)

Yup. Exactly like that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make outrageous bets with a shady bookie in the hopes that I too can be blessed with superhuman keyboard skills and a remarkable talent for hyper-focus. (I’ll probably just end up with broken thumbs. Hrmph.)

A heartfelt congratulations to Kati from us all!


***Update: Kati’s chair, Dr. Susan Miller-Cochran, had this to say about Kati’s exams process:

Kati’s committee was impressed with the thoughtfulness of her responses to her exam questions, and we’re equally excited about the promise of her dissertation, an ambitious but ground-breaking study of sound in composing. Kati’s work has already garnered the attention of leading scholars in new media and composing, and I’m confident that her current study will prove to be an important contribution to the field.


Filed under exams and dissertations


Last month, members of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) at NC State met up at with employees from the Publications Division of SAS Institute in Cary for a half-day symposium to explore research opportunities of mutual interest. The gathering was a rekindling of sorts as the SAS-CHASS relationship that, while dormant of late, was once much more active (our own Dr. Carolyn Miller is the SAS Institute Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Technical Communication). Recent efforts to renew the partnership come from Dean Jeff Braden and SAS VP for Publications Kathy Council, who recognized a mutually beneficial opportunity to align the research ambitions of CHASS PhD students with the research challenges of SAS.

I went along to represent the CRDM program and to talk about my work in corporate social media analysis, which, along with topics like globalization and usability, is one of many topics SAS is interested in exploring. (In fact, the SAS Director of Media Intelligence Solutions Mark Chaves was our most recently featured speaker for the CRDM Colloquium, and he shared some fascinating insights on social media research challenges in regards to their new analytics tool.) I was joined by PhD colleagues in the Psychology and Sociology departments and by multiple faculty across CHASS.

Sure, my 7 minutes of public speaking was probably the most important discussion of corporate social media ever to take place relevant to some, but I was honestly much more interested in listening to SAS personnel talk about their research problems and how they might intersect with our methodologies and research specialties in CHASS. For example, our primary audience was the Publications division of SAS but we were joined by members of R & D as well, who later raised a laundry list of research project needs they had in the queue. Listening to their project descriptions, I realized that a manuscript I was working on with Dr. Jason Swarts lined up neatly with their research questions. From this initial curiosity came a conversation, an exchanging of improbably handsome business cards, and an email thread that produced a brownbag research forum on assessing instructional video content for technical communication. Dr. Swarts and I hosted around a dozen members of SAS who joined CHASS scholars in the audience on NC State’s campus as we presented our ongoing research. A lively conversation ensued. Lively, I say. Lively!

Screenshot taken of ELAN software program used in video coding project

Sample screenshot of our tutorial coding project (program pictured: ELAN)

Honestly, I was really impressed with the level of overlapping interest in a topic I thought for sure would be entirely esoteric to everyone outside of our collaborative writing process. The Q&A got us thinking about issues we clearly should have addressed during the writing process; at the same time, we took comfort in the reassurance that some of the most critical decisions we made about what not to include in the results or analysis were applicable beyond they typically insulated academic audience. The best part? We were just the first of many future collaborative brownbags, and I’ll be really interested to see where the fruits of a renewed town-gown relationship will take our program.

All told, things are looking up for the future of SAS partnerships. With a bit of luck and a lot of inventio, you should look for the “town-gown” tag to reappear on this blog in the future as we move the CRDM program forward into more SAS-CHASS collaborations, with or without the exchanging of handsomely designed business cards. Yes. Handsome I say!

~Matt Morain, Class of 2008

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