The Writing Center Consultants
Maj. Deidre Garriott, Writing Center Coordinator
Major Deidre Anne Evans Garriott received her B.A. and M.A. in English from Florida Gulf Coast University. She completed her Ph.D. in English and specialized in rhetorical, writing, and linguistics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, under the direction of Michael Keene, Janet Atwill, Bill Hardwig, and James Stovall. She specializes in contemporary rhetorical theory, particularly intersection of the theories of space and place, material rhetoric, and public memory. She comes to VMI after serving as the Acting Director of the Writing Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, during her post-doctoral appointment.
Major Garriott researches the ways that communities remember the past, as well the kinds of performances and civic activities that are being endorsed and elicited through the public’s interactions with these memories. She is particularly interested in regionalized public memory. For her dissertation, she studied a park in Charleston, South Carolina, and the way that political and social systems impacted the park spatially and materially. She was interested in how the park was a strategy in rhetorical identification and examined the rhetorical strategies at work in the park’s construction and its material manifestation in Charleston.
In 2014, Major Garriott co-edited and contributed to a collection of critical essays with Dr. Julie Tyler and Dr. Whitney Jones, both from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The collection—Space and Place in The Hunger Games: New Readings of the Novels—provides an interdisciplinary examination of Suzanne Collins’s best-selling Hunger Games trilogy. In her chapter, Major Garriott analyzes the tweets, blog posts, and New York Times articles that respond to the casting choices for the first film. She argues that these digital writings construct a panoptic rhetoric, a rhetoric that Collins fears and explores in the trilogy, and posits that we are constructing Panem and its systems digitally.
Major Garriott is currently revising her dissertation manuscript to send for publication and has begun working on a book-length monograph on the rhetoric of World War II memorials in the South.
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Dr. Jim Adams, Writing Center Consultant
Dr. Jim Adams, Consultant in the Writing Center (B.A., English, VMI ‘7 1; M.A., English Literature, James Madison University; Ed. D, Educational Leadership, University of Tennessee). Starting as the cadet editor-in-chief of the VMI yearbook, Jim Adams worked as an Army magazine editor, as an advertising agency creative director, and as a copy production manager. His higher education public relations and marketing career began in 1977 and in 2009 he retired as CEO of the VMI Foundation. He currently teaches Public Speaking in the VMI English, Rhetoric and Humanistic Studies Department.
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Mr. George Abry, Writing Consultant
Mr. George Abry, Writing Consultant (M.A., The Johns Hopkins University) is a professional writer whose interests include travel writing and historic preservation. He was a regular contributor to the real estate section of The Times Picayune and Old House Journal magazine, and covered New Orleans tourism for TravelAgeWest, a west coast travel industry publication. In addition to feature writing, he has worked on a number of technical writing and public history projects. He served as historian for the City of Roanoke Residential Pattern Book project, and researched and wrote the historic context for an Architectural Survey of Botetourt County, VA; he co-wrote a handbook of Commercial Design Guidelines for the City of Bluefield, WV.
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Dr. Sydney Bufkin, Writing Center Consultant
Dr. Sydney Bufkin, Writing Consultant (B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.A. and Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin), specializes in American and African American literature and digital humanities. At the University of Texas, Dr. Bufkin worked in the Undergraduate Writing Center and taught courses in rhetoric, writing, and literary studies. She especially enjoys working with writers on brainstorming and organization, and is always happy to share strategies for fighting procrastination.
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Ms. Kristina Newberry, Writing Consultant
Ms. Kristina Newberry, Writing Consultant (M.F.A., Creative Writing, Hollins University), has published a variety of stories and essays. A Russian émigré, Kristina Newberry holds an M.A. in English from Radford University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins University, where she was a teaching fellow for a year. Kristina has published a variety of stories, essays and poetry. Her work has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The Louisville Review,Calyx,Nimrod, Arts & Letters, North Dakota Quarterly, Gulf Stream, Confrontation, and elsewhere. Her short fiction was selected as a finalist for multiple awards, including a Pushcart Prize. Kristina is the winner of the 2013 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, first prize.
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Ms. Elise Sheffield, Writing Consultant
Ms. Elise Sheffield, Writing Consultant, A.B., Brown University (English) and M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School (Theology) is also Education Director for Boxerwood Nature Center in Lexington. As a skilled grant writer, she has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for her non-profit’s educational initiatives over the past eight years. Prior to joining the VMI Writing Center in 2010, Ms. Sheffield wrote curriculum for the Marshall Foundation, and worked as an instructor at Southern Virginia University, teaching composition, non-fiction reflective writing, and literature. A Rockbridge native, she is a former Peace Corps volunteer (Lesotho, southern Africa), and published essayist. She is currently pursuing a second master’s in Science Education through Miami University (Ohio).
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Maj. Heather Branstetter
Heather Branstetter specializes in rhetoric and composition, and especially likes helping students come up with new ideas and think creatively about how to best support an argument. When she isn't at the Institute, Major B can often be found running with her dogs, biking down country roads, paddling down a river in a kayak, reading, or working on her own writing. She also likes to instigate subversive activities. When asked about what it means to be a writing center tutor, she answered, "Writing is like a starting a fire; the words need room to breathe."
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Maj. Coye Heard
Maj. Frederick Coye Heard teaches courses in American literature as well as aesthetics, philosophy and literature, and rhetoric and writing. He specializes in post-1945 American literature and Continental philosophy, and he has a particular interest in the intersections of literary form, ethics and public life. He has recently published and presented papers on the politics of aesthetic form in the work of Wallace Stevens, Vladimir Nabokov and Philip Roth. Before coming to VMI, MAJ Heard served as assistant director of UT’s Undergraduate Writing Center and as managing editor of Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.
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Maj. Josh Iddings
Maj. Josh Iddings, assistant professor of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies (B.A. & M.A., English, Marshall University; Ph.D., Purdue University). Maj. Iddings studies writing pedagogy from a functional linguistics perspective as it applies to both first and second language writing and does research in the fields of Linguistics, Rhetoric and Writing, Education and Appalachian Studies. In addition to working as a writing consultant at VMI, Maj. Iddings worked at the Marshall University Writing Center. Aside from his academic work, Maj. Iddings is also a musician, Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals fanatic, and avid disc golfer, playing as often as possible on the Washington and Lee campus course.
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Lt. Col. Pennie Ticen
Lt. Col. Ticen is an Associate Professor of English Literature in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies. She taught at The University of Montevallo, in Alabama, where she was active in the formation of their program in undergraduate research, before joining the VMI faculty in 2003. Her service in support of VMI’s co-hosting of the Nineteenth National Conference on Undergraduate Research (with Washington and Lee University) earned her a certificate of excellence in 2005.
Lt. Col. Ticen’s graduate work focused on the use of myth and epic in the works of James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, and Derek Walcott. As a specialist in twentieth century British Literature, she has taught courses in modernism, post-colonial literature, South Asian Indian literature in English, African literature, Caribbean literature, and contemporary literary theory. Her current research centers on the use of the essay by post-colonial writers such as Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy. She has been awarded faculty development grants to attend the Wye Faculty Seminar in 2006 and the Jessie Ball DePont Seminar for Liberal Arts College Faculty in 2003.
Lt. Col. Ticen has been active professionally within her field as a referee/reviewer for scholarly articles that have been published in Currents in Teaching and Learning, College English, and South Atlantic Review. She has been an active member of the South Asian Literary Association for twelve years, serving on its governing board as an executive committee member, organizational treasurer, and conference co-chair in 2004, when she was also co-editor of the conference proceedings.
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