Melanie Kill centers her research and teaching in digital rhetorics, rhetorical genre studies, technofeminism, disability rhetorics, and the public humanities. Her work approaches rhetoric as collective, discursive world making in which the patterning of discursive norms reflects and maintains larger social structures but also opens space for challenging them. Her projects and courses pose cross-disciplinary questions about rhetors/writers/designers/users, writing and design technologies, and social justice.
Dr. Kill’s current book project, "The Last Encyclopedia: Wikipedia and the Networking of Human Knowledge," considers how Wikipedia responds to the genre of the encyclopedia, not only as it has been understood historically but also as it is called into being at the start of the twenty-first century. She argues that in claiming the encyclopedia as a public genre, Wikipedia makes the question of general knowledge into a public project and a social issue. Dr. Kill is project lead for WikiProject Writing, a public scholarship/digital humanities project that brings together an international community of academics collaborating to improve high-impact Wikipedia articles with a focus on addressing issues of knowledge equity. Other individual and collaborative scholarship has been published in CCC, JAC, Written Communication, and Digital Humanities Pedagogy (ed. Hirsch 2012).
Dr. Kill coordinates the UMD Minor in Rhetoric (with Carly S. Woods) and serves on the UMD President’s Commission for Disability Issues (co-chaired by Ana Palla-Kane and Paul Jaeger). She coordinates the English Department’s Language, Writing, and Rhetoric speaker series (with Sara Wilder). She is founding chair of the CCCC Wikipedia Initiative, which offers training, community, and collaboration to scholars of writing, rhetoric, literacy, and language who see public knowledge as fundamental groundwork for social justice.
As a disabled faculty member, Dr. Kill works through her research, teaching, and service to share the critical perspectives disability enables and to address structural barriers to full participation in the intellectual and pedagogical work of the university.
“Teaching Digital Rhetoric: Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Free Knowledge.”
The vast majority of the undergraduates we teach will not become professional scholars, but all will be educated citizens with a responsibility to put their knowledge and abilities to use for the common good.