Alumni Spotlight: Chad Seader

Recent graduate, Chad Seader, MAWRD 2013, shared with us how he customized the MAWRD program to help him achieve his academic goals and what he’ll be doing as a post-graduate.

SONY DSCQ: What was your academic and professional background prior to entering WRD?
Directly before entering MAWRD, I had completed my BA in Philosophy for Northeastern Illinois University, but in my last year at NEIU I decided to switch over to rhetoric and composition for my graduate education.  I might get myself in trouble for saying this, but I feel that philosophy is about splitting hairs to prove something for certain.  Rather than worrying about certainty, rhetoric is more interested in the intensity of an idea and how ideas create meaning and affect the world, something I find far more interesting.

Q: Describe your career / research interests and pursuits as you were going through the MAWRD program. How did you customize the program to meet your needs?
Throughout my coursework in MAWRD, I’ve been interested in how alternative rhetorical systems (non-Western, feminist, queer, post-colonial, etcetera) challenge and shape how we make sense of our world and how we understand persuasion, literacy, writing, and the teaching of writing.  Specifically, I became interested in rhetorical systems that emerge through the texts of Sufi poets, philosophers, and theologians from medieval Persia.  I find these thinkers fascinating because they blatantly rejected Aristotelian thought. Their theories allowed me to apply methodologies from Sufism to fill in some gaps within our own contemporary theory in rhetoric and composition.

I’ve been able to direct a lot of my coursework to pursue my interest in Sufi rhetoric.  For example, I took advantage of the course WRD 503: Ancient Rhetorics to position Sufism in the history of rhetoric; in WRD 513: Semiotics I analyzed Sufi poetry; and in WRD 505: Contemporary Rhetorics I explored how the concept of transgression in Sufi texts could be applied to writing pedagogy.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate?
This summer I’ll be moving to New York to attend the PhD program in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric at Syracuse University. Though I’ll miss Chicago and the community at DePaul, I’m excited to have this opportunity to further my studies of the rhetorics of Iran, Central Asian and the Middle East. I plan on taking Farsi classes as well, which would help ween me off translated texts.  I’m also excited to get involved with community literacy projects in the city of Syracuse to help connect theory to action.

Q: Any advice for current and prospective WRD students?
Build off of your research from prior quarters, so you’ll never be starting from square one.  A ten-week quarter is too short to write a long paper of quality.  Smart research methods and spreading out a project over multiple quarters will help you tease out the many complexities within the questions that we wrestle with every day.

Talk in class. This is best way to direct discussion to interests and topics that are relevant to you.  Your professors can’t develop your ideas if you don’t draw attention to yourself.  Talk about your interests in class, email your professors, take advantage of office hours, and post to the online discussion forums.

Professional conferences are supportive, safe spaces to talk about your research, get feedback, and gain inspiration from others.  They’re wonderful opportunities, and I wish I had not waited until my last year in the program to explore everything that conferences can offer.

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