Projects

The Breastpump as Wearable Technology: Seeking Research Participants

I’m conducting a study of the breast pump as a wearable technology and how female academics experience it. If you are not currently breastfeeding or pumping, but have done so in the past, would you be willing to be interviewed for my research?

Interviews will last 30-45 minutes and will be conducted via Skype.  

To participate in the study, you should be:

  • Over the age of 21
  • Not currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or pumping
  • Have used a breast pump in the past

UNC IRB Study #: 15-0078

Approval Date: 2/27/2015

If you are interested, email jjack(at)email(dot)unc(dot)edu. I will follow up with further information, including information about informed consent, confidentiality, risks, and benefits for this study.

Neurorhetoric: Behind the Persuasive Power of Neuroscience

This project examines the persuasive power of neuroscience by undertaking a rhetorical analysis leading from neuroscience’s birth as a research area in the 1940s to the present. Using rhetorical genealogy, I trace the histories of discourse patterns (metaphors, rhetorical figures, and claims) across scientific articles, popular books, and news reports.This project investigates questions such as:

  • what accounts for the persuasiveness of appeals to the brain–specifically appeals to neurorealism, neuroessentialism, and neuropolicy?
  • how do those appeals work rhetorically?
  • did/do neuroscientists encourage popular uptake of their ideas, not only in popular books, but in scientific articles?
  • how is neuroscience used to support arguments about education, politics, education, and consumerism?

More broadly, the project demonstrates how an approach grounded in rhetoric can help humanists to productively engage with scientific researchers.

Learn more about this project on my blog, Neurorhetoric.

Rhetoric and Neuroscience

In collaboration with scholars at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, I conduct research into the rhetorical shapings of neuroscience findings.Team members include Gregory Appelbaum in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University,  Jim Moody in the Department of Sociology at Duke, Scott Huettel in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke, and Duke undergraduate student Elizabeth Beam. Our research examines how rhetoric and neuroscience intersect in contemporary discourse.

Our research so far has resulted in the following publications:

“This is Your Brain on Rhetoric”: Research Directions for NeuroRhetorics.”(co-author, L. Gregory Appelbaum), Rhetoric Society Quarterly, special issue on NeuroRhetorics, 40.5 (2010): 411-437. Download full text.

“Mapping the Semantic Structure of Cognitive Neuroscience.” (co-authors Elizabeth Beam, Scott Huettel, James Moody, and L. Gregory Appelbaum). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (preprint ahead of publication, March, 2014). Download full text.

Current research projects examine the rhetorical effects of scientific abstracts in neuroscience publications. In “Mapping the Intrinsic Structure of Cognitive Neuroscience,” we are pursuing a quantitative (coding) assessment of the rhetorical language used in recent peer-reviewed neuroscience journals. In this work we make use of social networking analyses to investigate the relationship between theoretical, anatomical, and descriptive categories and ultimately how these may vary depending on the article in which they appear (manuscript currently under review).

The Genre Project

With my colleagues in the Writing Program, Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill, I am investigating the genres students read and write across the disciplines, both at UNC and beyond. The first phase of the project involves determining what genres are most commonly taught in undergraduate science, social science, and humanities classes. Results will be posted here as they are generated. Later phases will extend this research to other institutions, and then  study examples of student writing across the curriculum to identify strategies students use to compose new genres. Ultimately, we hope these findings can improve first year writing instruction at UNC and around the country. For more information, including publications and reports, see http://genre.web.unc.edu/.

A bubble chart showing the genres most commonly taught at UNC-Chapel Hill in undergraduate science courses. The chart shows that research reports, empirical reports, and short discussion questions are among the most common genres.

Caption: Genres common in undergraduate science syllabi at UNC.