University Park, IL,
16:11 PM

This English professor made the "write" choice

Dr. Amanda Athon


Amanda Athon, an associate professor in the English Department at Governors State University, grew up loving to read and write. So, it’s natural that writing has become her career passion.

With a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing, Dr. Athon was drawn to GSU because the university’s writing program impressed her.  Smaller classes taught by full-time faculty as opposed to teacher’s assistants,  is what attracted her to GSU, which prides itself on high touch experiences for freshmen.

“That spoke highly of GSU’s commitment to first-year students’ success,” she says. “First-year students and a robust general education curriculum are highly valued here.”

Now eight years later with tenure under her belt, Athon still considers GSU “a good resource for the community" and  sat down with GSU Newsroom to share her thoughts.

GSU Newsroom: What do you teach besides writing?

Athon: One of the things I liked about GSU is the inter-disciplinary nature. My home is English, but I also teach a course in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. That course focuses on gender and visual text. We look at different graphic novels and we pair that with different gender theories. We look at how gender is represented in graphic novels and comics.

GSU Newsroom: Graphic novels and comics are popular. Is the class popular?

Athon: It is. It’s been running every summer when I offer it, so that’s great.

GSU Newsroom: What is your advanced composition class about?

Athon: My advanced composition class is about how our digital writing influences our understanding of text. So much of the writing we do in the classroom is traditional, but the writing we do outside the classroom is most often in digital spaces, writing on-line, (in) social media, things like that. We look at how digital writing impacts understanding. One of the things we do, we analyze digital and graphic text and students will actually create a comic. It’s a fun class.

GSU Newsroom: How does digital writing affect the quality of our writing?

Athon: One of the things I looked at in my dissertation is how student writing has changed over time. There’s a study that shows student writing is longer and more complicated than years ago. It’s just different.

GSU Newsroom: Was it difficult teaching on-line?

Athon: We all missed our students a lot. But we tried to view this as an opportunity and think about ways we could offer challenging and engaging curriculum. On-line teaching is not going away. A good percentage of students want this format. I hope we can take lessons from this time and incorporate them into our curriculum.

GSU Newsroom: Do you plan to write a book?

Athon:  I’m writing a book based on my research of on-line teaching. My hope is educators will learn how to design on-line spaces that better meet the needs of the students.