Moriah L. Kirdy

On August 30, 2019 I defended my dissertation, “Paper Programs: Notebook-Based Information Systems and the Generative Potential of Constraint” as the culmination of my studies in composition and rhetoric through the Critical and Cultural Studies doctoral program.

My dissertation project is on genres of handwritten personal note-taking and information systems including the commonplace book, the bullet journal, and on robust and highly systematic nonce practices of everyday writers. I offer that these systems promise for their practitioners a pedagogical training akin to cognitive, emotional, and rhetorical programming that arises not from the writer’s personal agency alone, but from a contingent and collaborative relationship with the rhetorical potential of the system itself. This work is informed by a range of interdisciplinary scholarship, including rhetorical genre theory (and rhetorical studies more broadly), poetics, computational media, textual studies, posthumanism, and affect studies.

I have over ten years of teaching experiences and pedagogical training and have taught first-year writing, public and professional writing, analog and digital media methods, and literature courses and have served on Pitt’s Composition Curriculum Committee. In addition to teaching, I have worked as the Composition Program Assistant and, prior to Pitt, as a Writing Center Assistant Director at Washington College and George Mason University. I am deeply invested in writing studies and in teaching courses that provide students with access to, and practice in, real-world genres. As students in composition tend to come from a variety of disciplines, all of my courses rely substantially on students’ own personal and intellectual investments. Those interests inform not only the subjects of students’ writing projects, but course texts and case examples. As the focus is often simultaneously on genres with established and highly constrained conventions, students learn to investigate how their interests might shape and transform genre-based work so that they can reach (or at least practice reaching) genuine audiences. Many students express interest in continuing projects well beyond my courses, and some students not only intend to, but do.

{For further details, see my CV}

{When my husband and I married in 2017 we combined our last names to create a new family name. For a more complete archive of projects, works, and teaching materials, and my old blog see the blog under my maiden name, Moriah L Purdy, at}

{This site is always under construction}