Skip to main content

Elizabeth Lenaghan

Director and Associate Professor of Instruction, The Cook Family Writing Program; Assistant Director, The Writing Place

PhD, Northwestern University, Communication Studies (Media, Technology & Society); MA, Columbia University, English and Comparative Literature; BA, Tufts University, English and French

As director of the Cook Family Writing Program, Elizabeth Lenaghan works with colleagues across the university to help design writing objectives, curricula, and assessments that align with the program’s overarching objective: to help writers communicate clearly and persuasively. As part of this work, Lenaghan belongs to a working group of WCAS administrators and faculty tasked with defining learning goals and curricula associated with the WCAS’s first-year writing requirement. Additionally, Lenaghan and her Writing Program colleagues are convening a series of workshops to develop assignments and activities to teach writing and communication across a variety of contexts. In such work on curricula development, Lenaghan seeks to foreground the agency of students and create classrooms where writers are supported to take risks and learn through feedback and revision.

The same goals motivate Lenaghan’s teaching in expository writing, intermediate composition, and practical rhetoric. Her current first-year seminar, Truth in Representation, explores historic and contemporary hoaxes to critically assess the roles that fake news and other lies have played throughout history. Another expository writing class examines how new modes and genres of written communication impact the style, content, and frequency of formal and informal writing practices. Lenaghan also teaches English 570, a seminar for graduate students who wish to learn more about the teaching of writing.

Lenaghan’s work with graduate writers extends to her role as the assistant director of Northwestern University’s Writing Place. As the founding director of the Graduate Writing Place, she selects and oversees a group of advanced PhD candidates who serve as graduate writing fellows. The writing fellows and she hold one-on-one writing consultations with graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members, providing feedback and assistance about writing in a variety of genres, including course work, dissertation proposals and chapters, fellowship applications, job market materials, and manuscripts for publication. She also facilitates writing workshops, interdisciplinary writing groups, and dissertation boot camps aimed at teaching participants concrete strategies and exercises to improve both the quality and productivity of their writing, both within the workshops and outside of them. Lenaghan earned a Graduate School Service Award for this work in 2014. She has published two pieces on graduate student writing: the article “Writing Centers and Graduate Student Leadership,” in the December 2013 issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly, and the chapter “Revisiting the Remedial Framework: How Graduate Writing Centers Can Better Serve Graduate Students and Themselves,” in the 2019 edited collection Re/Writing the Center.

Like her teaching, Lenaghan’s other research and university service focuses on the impact of new media on the reception, consumption, and production of traditional cultural objects and modes of expression. She is an editor at Hybrid Pedagogy, an open access journal that explores the intersections of teaching, learning, and technology. In her role as faculty-in-residence in the Elder Residential Community, she engages students in discussions concerning their digital media habits and hosts monthly “Screenless Saturday” events where students are invited to take a break from their phones and engage in hands-on activities such as puzzles, games, and cooking.



Back to top