Aaron Bruenger, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, CLI
+1 507 258 8034
Ph.D. English Language and Literature, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 2009
BSE English Education, Pittsburg State University, 1998
“I believe the study of writing and communication is a critical part of higher education, not only because strong communication skills are vital for any career, but also because it forces students to examine the ways people use language and other symbols to shape the way we think, how we feel, and what we value as a society.”
I have always been interested in the way people used language and visual representations to communicate messages and influence the world in which they live. I began my undergraduate studies in graphic design, where I learned the basics of effective information design. Later I changed to English Education because I was fascinated in the ways people used language to express their thoughts and to persuade others, and I wanted to help students develop this ability. After a few years of teaching high school, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. so that I could explore the ways people used rhetorical devices to shape our understanding of the world.
Before coming to UMR, I was at the Kansas City Art Institute, where I worked with aspiring artists on their language and critical thinking skills so they could achieve their educational, professional, and artistic pursuits.
I believe the study of writing and communication is a critical part of higher education, not only because strong communication skills are vital for any career, but also because it forces students to examine the ways people use language and other symbols to shape the way we think, how we feel, and what we value as a society. However, it is also an area which causes students much frustration, learning new applications for skills they have had since they were small children. Because of this, I believe it is important to approach the teaching of writing and communication as a matter of individual development. When teaching students, I meet them where they are at as communicators and critical thinkers, and I help them cultivate the skills they need to be effective in their academic, professional, and social communities.
At UMR, I teach the Communications Methods course, which takes the language and critical thinking skills students developed in their first year of the BSHS program and applies them to a wide-range of social contexts. Prior to UMR, I taught a variety of courses including Critical Writing and Reading, Advanced Composition, The Literature of Public Life, Analysis of the English Language, and The Art of Persuasion. All of these courses focused upon the ways that people use language and other mediums of communication to influence others and shape the communities in which they live.
In addition to teaching in the classroom, I also work in the Just ASK Writing Center. Again, I come to this position with extensive experience, having worked as a writing tutor at Pittsburg State University, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and the Kansas City Art Institute. I really enjoy this work, as often times it is focused, individualized instruction that helps students develop their writing and critical thinking skills.
My research is focused upon the concept of ethos and the role that values and social mores play in creating credibility for arguments and acceptance of ideas. These questions manifest themselves in a wide-range of research projects: student selection and incorporation of electronic sources, tutor identity and ethics in writing centers, the rhetoric of social movements, and “trolling” in online forums.
“’I’ll Probably Be Called a Troll…’: Representation of Dissent in the Comments Section.” 2010 RSA Biennial Conference.
“Crossing a Line: Sex, Comfort, and Writing Centers.” 2005 International Writing Center Association/NCPTW Conference.