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Erica Benson

BensonErica J. Benson joined UWEC’s English Department in 2003. She earned a Ph. D. in Linguistics from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Linguistics and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University of South Carolina, and a B.A. from the University of South Florida.

In addition to teaching a required college writing course (Engl 110), Dr. Benson also teaches courses in introductory linguistics (Engl 121 Busting Language Myths and Engl 221 The English Language), morphology and the lexicon (Engl 225 Word Studies), phonetics/phonology and syntax (Engl 321 Topics in the Structure of English), the history of the English language (Engl 325), and American dialects and language and gender (Engl 421 Seminar in Linguistic Research).

Dr. Benson’s research focuses on two major areas: language variation and change in the U.S. and folk linguistics, that is, what non-linguists think about language. She has recently presented her work at the following conferences: the American Dialect Society, New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV), the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Wisconsin TESOL, National Association for the History of the Language Sciences, and she has published in the following journals: Journal of English Linguistics American Speech, Rivista Italiana di Dialettologi, and Language and Communication.Dr. Benson is active in faculty-student collaborative research, and her current research projects, publications, and presentations can be found on her website. 

While still in high school, Dr. Benson discovered that she loved to travel, teach, and learn. Thus, she uprooted herself time and again to live in several U.S. states (Florida, South Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, and now Wisconsin) and two foreign countries (Germany and Poland) – and traveled to many more – supporting herself by teaching composition, English as a second/foreign language, and linguistics; training pre-service and in-service English teachers; and taking other odd jobs. While traveling and teaching, she studied at four universities, three institutes, and earned her degrees. Alas, she has now settled down and has the good fortune to live in a beautiful rural area outside Eau Claire, where she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, yoga (she is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance), hiking, cross-country skiing, and the occasional black bear sighting.