Dr. Kali Jo Wacker '16 Assistant Professor of English

Kali JoWacker

Ph.D., University of Kansas
Museum Studies Graduate Certificate, University of Kansas
B.A., Northwestern College

VPH 120

Dr. Wacker graduated from Northwestern College in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and graphic design. She pursued graduate and doctoral studies at the University of Kansas, earning a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition, where she focused on museum technologies and multimodal composition, a study of diverse modes of communication (linguistic, visual, auditory, gestural, spatial and material). An active writer and artist, she has taught courses in writing, communications, and art, and her current scholarship focuses on the intersection of writing, design, digital media, and popular and material culture.

COM185WI - Media Writing

(4 credits) (Writing intensive) Students learn genres of writing for print and broadcast journalism and video, as well as for public relations and advertising. They learn these genres in relation to each other and in relation to their organizational contexts and audiences. Included are reporting, organizing and writing, as well as basic legal and ethical guidelines for reporters and writers in journalism and PR. Prerequisite: COM101x or permission of instructor.

COM261 - Feature Writing

(2 credits; non-yearly, consult department) Study of interviewing practices, research methods, organization, and interest-gathering techniques necessary for writing longer articles, profiles, columns and consumer affairs writing. Prerequisite: COM185WI or permission of instructor.

COM310 - Advanced Topics in Communications

(2-4 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course is designed to be an upper- level course providing in-depth and additional knowledge and/or skill in specific discipline areas that are not well covered in the current curriculum. Topics will vary according to students' interests and needs, changes and developments in the communication discipline and practice, and faculty skills and interest. Potential topics may include additional instruction in advertising, public relations, magazine writing, advanced news writing and editing, advanced video editing, digital video directing, and international and intercultural communication. Prerequisites: to be determined by department.

COM315 - Writing and Design for the Web

(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) Study of writing and design for a Web environment. Students will analyze Internet sites and design sites of their own, using a standard program for Web design. Prerequisites: ENG184 or equivalent and any of the following: COM263, ART220, ART230, or permission of instructor.

COM340 - News Writing and Editing

(4 credits, non-yearly, consult department) Principles of clear and forceful journalistic writing. Includes fact gathering, story planning, lead and head writing. Attention to editing for improved copy, headline writing, and selection of photographs and art work. Prerequisite: COM185WI or permission of instructor.

ENG238AE - Literature and Film

(4 credits) (NWCore option under Aesthetic Experience) Literature and film is an introduction to the art of adaptation. Although we are frequent viewers of film, we are not always good readers and interpreters of visual texts. We will read original literary texts and view adaptations. Through class discussion, writing, and practice students will learn the visual language of film and understand the nature of adaptation.

ENG250LC - Literary Contexts

(4 credits) (NWCore option under Literary Contexts) ENG250LC offers students an introduction to literary study. The topics of individual sections vary by instructor and term. After completing this writing-intensive course, students will be able to imagine other lives, times, and places by reading a variety of texts; empathize with characters who have diverse stories and perspectives; analyze different genres of literature using the tools of literary study; craft a coherent essay with a clear thesis and careful textual analysis; articulate ways that literature speaks to and informs their own lives; express delight in God through the beauty of language and literary text; and witness God?s presence in the world through literature. Topics include: American Literature and the Rhetoric of Freedom: Americans often regard freedom as the defining characteristic of both their nation and themselves. This course examines how the rhetoric of freedom has been a force in American literature. We will complicate our understanding of American freedom by examining how it has been continually redefined throughout the nation?s literary history. We will consider how minority and oppressed groups have used the rhetoric of freedom to advance their own liberation and how Christian religions concepts and language have contributed to this rhetoric. Students will practice reading and writing critically and become familiar with a variety of literary genres, including historical narrative, autobiography, poetry, drama, essays, short stories, and novels. Literature in the World: This course teaches students to appreciate the aesthetic value of literature and consider its cultural contexts. The course explores the beauty of language, the importance of understanding the self and others, and invites readers to consider how literature contributes to our contemporary culture. The course is arranged thematically and content varies from year to year. Themes may include, but are not limited to: immigration, war, poverty, the power of metaphor, and visual art and literature. Literary Imaginations: For literature to be more than ink stains on white paper, we must use our imaginations to give it life. In this course we shall read works from throughout human history and around the world (India, Greece, Italy, England, Russia, Nigeria, Ireland, Japan) to imagine and understand the world that people have believed in, created, and inhabited. The Lives of Others: This course explores 4000 years of stories, from ancient Mesopotamia to the American South. Plays, poems, epics, and autobiographies broaden our perspective on the world and deepen our understanding of being human. Two central themes of the course are perceptions of difference and expressions of faith. Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: As careful, critical readers, we will come face to face with all sorts of strangers, gods and monsters (both mythic and modern) as we journey through New Mexico deserts, English monasteries, modern day American prisons, contemporary Nigerian villages, Aboriginal healing ceremonies, and deep into the heart of Japan?s 17th century Samurai culture. Disney: What do a pocket-sized dragon, a talking willow tree, and a confused rooster have in common? Their characters debuted in film. Disneyâ??s Mushu, Grandmother Willow, and HeiHei were not in the original stories from which Disney drew inspiration. This course is an introduction to the art of adaptation and explores many of the literary contexts upon which the Disneyâ??s storytelling empire was built. Students will learn how to research, analyze, and discuss written and visual texts, and to create their own adaptations of literature through papers, storyboards, and multimedia projects.

NWC101 - First-Year Seminar

(4 credits) This course introduces students to the character and abilities considered essential to becoming a member of a Christian liberal arts community. Students develop their reading, writing and speaking skills by exploring difficult questions, learning to understand academic inquiry, forming learning communities, and integrating faith with learning and living.

"Once Upon a Design: Increasing Student Autonomy through Fairy Tale Adaptation," Session Chair, Popular Culture Association Conference, San Antonio, TX, April 2023.

“Exploring Urban Networks of Power in Disney’s Cityscapes: A Case Study of Paris & Its Animated Material Rhetorics,” Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference, Las Vegas, NV, November 2021.

“Following Suit: A Pursuit of Material Process in Multimodal Composition.” TRACE Journal, vol. 4, March 2020.

“Comic Relief in Disney: Navigating Language, Laughter, & Social Justice,” Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference, San Diego, CA, November 2019.

“Positioning Emojis as Adverbials in a Hybrid Grammar,” Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States Annual Conference, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, July 2019.

“Faith, Dust, and Freshman Trust: Situating Disney as a Rhetorical Tool,” Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference, Bellingham, WA, November 2018.

“Identity & Composition: A Maker’s Perspective, Part 2,” Thomas R. Watson Conference, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, October 2018.

“Embodying the ‘-ing’: Crafting a New Identity for Composition Scholars, Part 1,” College Composition and Communication Conference, Kansas City, MO, March 2018.

“Handcrafted Rhetorics: DIY and the Public Power of Made Things,” College Composition and Communication Conference, Kansas City, MO, March 2018.

“Reverse Transfer: Using Social Media to Teach Academic Paper Principles.” NETSOL: New Trends in Social and Liberal Sciences, vol. 2, no. 2, December 2017, pp. 1–15., doi:10.24819/netsol2017.06.

Web design and communications graduate fellow, University of Kansas, 2017–2021

Composition instructor, University of Kansas, 2016–2021

Peter Collins Travel Grant for Early-Career Faculty, Popular Culture Association, 2023

Argersinger Dissertation Award Finalist, University of Kansas, 2022

Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award Nomination, University of Kansas, 2021

Carlin Graduate Teaching Award, University of Kansas, 2021

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, English Department, University of Kansas, 2020

Stephen F. Evans Excellence in Course Development Award, English Department, University of Kansas, 2020

Graduate Student Scholarship, Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, 2019

The Selden L. Whitcomb Fellowship, English Department, University of Kansas, 2018

The Outstanding Instructor Award, English Department, University of Kansas, 2018