Research Philosophy

As an interdisciplinary scholar, my career-sustaining interest investigates the material-digital-discursive implications of power, production, and possibility in rhetorical knowledge infrastructures. That is, I am curious about how communities learn to rhetorically invent and enact culturally complex communicative acts through digital and multimodal technologies in spite of oppressive surveillance infrastructures. In terms of method, I comfortably deploy qualitative methods, including classroom ethnography and in-depth interviewing, as well as rhetorical criticism and theory to study phenomenon emergent from complex social ecologies. Methodologically, I entangle queer, feminist of color, crip, and antiracist meaning-making practices with digital rhetorical theories to not only question normative assumptions built into our cultural infrastructures but also generate critical frameworks for worldbuilding. Addressing the vastness of these curiosities requires forming what I call “coalitional praxis.” Through coalitional praxis I question how human and nonhuman agentive bodies use technologies (or are used by technologies) when composing collective action grounded in the embodiminded histories, rhetorics, and pedagogies. I am particularly interested in the influence of mobile technologies (ubiquitous computing), surveillance logics, and digital infrastructures in the Anthropocene. Instead of “mastering” a narrow topic of expertise, my goal is to establish a clear scholarly ethic based in coalitional praxis that attends to the complexity of rhetorical education(s) within and beyond academe. 

Upcoming projects

Below are brief descriptions of upcoming projects. I'm happy to answer questions or provide further details upon request.

(Peitho Cluster Fall 2024)

"Surveillance" invokes the systemic observational practices purposefully used when controling bodies. Recently interdisciplinary scholars have engaged intersectional feminist and queer frameworks to better understand surveillance cultures. How will rhetoric, composition, and technical communications "talk back"?

Special cluster conversation for Peitho. Co-edited with Morgan Banville. Fall 2024 publication.


This book-length project enacts a queer-feminist following around method/ology (Ahmed) to interrogate the long-standing use(s) of “accountability” within academe as a necropolitical logic and the possibilities of “being accountable” as a transgressive queer-feminist embodiminded rhetorical practice. Accountability, as a god-term in Westernized higher education, is imbued with deep rhetoricity, or an obligation to respond (Davis). Our necessary response to accountability, as defined within academe, I argue, enables necropolitical policies and pedagogies, which make possible and profitable the management of death (Mbeme), that disproportionally impacts Black, indigenous, people of color, trans, queer, poor, disabled, and otherwise Othered populations. Most critically, such policies and pedagogies sustain academic surveillance regimes through education technologies (EdTech) and deeply ingrained technologies of governmentality. In following around while working out and working on accountability’s rhetoricity, I demonstrate how separate composings of accountability come into being. For example, using accountability to the university facilitates necropolitical pedagogies and building on queer and Black Feminist coalitional and fugitive activisms among students and teachers being accountable for each other in but not of the university. Rendering visible these uses, not only makes clear the material, embodiminded nature of accountability but also determines our response-ability vis-à-vis our proximities and relations to institutions, technologies, and each other. Such rendered determinations hold space wherein a refusal of accountability can be initiated through queer-feminist pedagogies (Campt; Kynard; Smilges). In sum, this book argues for a deep examination of the rhetoricity of accountability, its necropolitical deployment through academic surveillance technologies, and the worldbuilding potentialities of a queer-feminist refusal grounded in but not of the university.

key terms:

queer-feminist following around method/ology; accountability; being accountable; necopolitical policies and pedagogies; education technologies; technologies of governmentality; refusal; in but not of the university

Related work:

Recent publications

Johnson, Gavin P. (2023) “Don’t Act Like You Forgot: Approaching the AI “Literacy Crisis” with What We Know About Writing With and Through Technologies.” Composition Studies 51(1), pp. 169-175.

Johnson, Gavin P. (2022). "(Queer) Optimism Ain't (Im)Possible." In Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Queer Rhetorics, pp. 421-428. Routledge. 

Blancato, Michael, Gavin P. Johnson, Beverly J. Moss, and Sara Wilder. (2022). "Brokering Community-Engaged Writing Pedagogies: Instructors Imagining and Negotiating Race, Space, and Literacy." Literacy in Composition Studies, 9(1).

Kumari, Ashanka, Gavin P. Johnson, Sara Doan, Sweta Baniya, and Virginia M. Schwarz. (2021). “Coalitional literacies of Safety and Solidarity: A White Paper for nextGEN International Listserv.” Computers and Composition, 62.

Johnson, Gavin P., Melissa Guadrón, Kiera M. Hambrick, Yanar Hashlamon, Addison Koneval, and Christa Teston. (2021). “Responding to the Investigative Pivots of Rhetoric Research.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 51(5).

Johnson, Gavin P. (2021). “Coalitional Rhetorics and the Work to Come: An Interview with Karma R. Chávez.”Spark: A 4C4Equality Journal.

Johnson, Gavin P. (2021) “Grades as a Technology of Surveillance: Normalization,Control, and Big Data in the Teaching of Writing.” In Privacy Matters: Conversations about Surveillances Within and Beyond the Classroom. Utah State University Press. [download pdf]

Johnson, Gavin P. and Ryan Sheehan. (2020). “The Uses of Queer Failure: Navigating Away from the Pedagogical Mandate of Happiness.” In Failure Pedagogies: Learning and Unlearning How to Fail, (pp. 127-140). Peter Lang. [download pdf]


Johnson, Nan with Johnson, Gavin P. (2019). “Teaching Critical Analysis in Times of Peril: A Rhetorical Model of Social Change.” Peitho, 22(1),                                        

*Awarded the 2020 Ohio State University Department of English Digital Media Prize for Outstanding Graduate Work


Baniya, S., Sara Doan, Gavin P. Johnson, Ashanka Kumari, Kyle Larson,Virginia M. Schwarz, (nextGEN Start-up Team) and Kyle Bohunicky, Kefaya Diab, Karin Evans, Christine Garcia, Traci Gardner, Mara Lee Grayson, Regina McMmanigell Grijalva, Holly Hassel, Brian Hendrickson, Adam Hubrig, Barry Maid, Cara Marta Messina, Bernice Olivas, Mike Palmquist, and Iris Ruiz (WPA-L Reimagining Work Group). (2019) “Where We Are: Dialogue and Disciplinary Space. A Brief Dialogue with Members of the WPA-L Working Group and nextGEN listserv.” Composition Studies, 47(2), pp. 203-210. [download pdf]


Blancato, Michael, Gavin P. Johnson, Beverly J. Moss, and Sara Wilder. (2019). “The Work of Boundary-Crossing in a Community-Engaged Literacy Course.” Journal of College Literacy and Learning – Work, 45, pp. 95-97. [download pdf]


Johnson, Gavin P. (2018). “From Rhetorical Eavesdropping to Rhetorical Foreplay: Orientations, Bodies in Spacetime, and the Emergence of a Queer Embodied Tactic.” Pre/Text: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory – Queer Rhetorics, 24, pp. 119-138. [download pdf]

*An earlier version of this argument was awarded the NCTE/CCCC Gloria Anzaldúa Rhetorician Award