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Dr. Shevaun Watson receives prestigious honor
for published article

RELEASED: Jan. 29, 2010

Dr. Shevaun Watson
Dr. Shevaun Watson

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Shevaun Watson, director of composition at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and assistant professor of English, will receive a prestigious award for an article she wrote that was published in a professional journal.

The Conference on College Composition and Communication will give Watson the Richard Braddock Award, which it awards annually to the author of the most outstanding article on writing or the teaching of writing published in the Journal of College Composition and Communication.

"My field within English studies is rhetoric and composition, and the winning article is selected from the field's primary journal within that discipline," Watson said. "To be published in CCC is an honor; to receive the Braddock Award is astounding. I am both humbled and thrilled to have my work receive this level of recognition."

The premier journal in the field of composition and rhetoric, the Journal of CCC accepts only 1-2 percent of all manuscripts submitted annually, said Dr. Jack Bushnell, professor of English and chair of the English department.

"The Braddock Award is arguably the premier award in the entire field," Bushnell said. "We are lucky to have someone of Dr. Watson's caliber at UW-Eau Claire."

In the field of composition studies, the Braddock Award rivals the well-known National Science Foundation grants and other prestigious honors that other UW-Eau Claire departments often are recognized for winning, said Dr. Scott Oates, director of university assessment and associate professor of English.

"This is a major award that typically, probably always, goes to someone at an elite research institution," Oates said. "Richard Braddock is often viewed as the point at which knowledge about writing and teaching writing grew out of being coffee room lore and anecdote and into a discipline with bona fide scholarly and scientific methods for inquiry."

Having a faculty member receive the Braddock Award is especially meaningful given UW-Eau Claire's renewed commitment to and emphasis on writing, Oates said.

The article for which Watson won the award, "'Good Will Come of This Evil': Enslaved Teachers and the Transatlantic Politics of Early Black Literacy," was published in CCC in September 2009. The article examines an 18th-century network of the use of slaves to teach other slaves to read and write, a network that spanned across the Atlantic from England to Barbados to South Carolina to Africa.

Watson said the work's significance within composition studies is threefold: It shifts the focus of historical studies of African American literacy from the 1800s to the 1700s; it places such phenomena within a transatlantic context, rather than an exclusively American one; and it prompts other literacy researchers to consider a different array of archival materials.

Watson, who came to UW-Eau Claire in July 2009, received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Minnesota, her master's degree in rhetoric and composition from UW-Milwaukee and her doctorate in rhetoric and composition from Miami University of Ohio.

Her primary areas of scholarship include writing studies and early African American rhetoric and literacy. Her dissertation on blacks' testimonial rhetoric during the early American republic won awards from the Rhetoric Society of America and the American Society for the History of Rhetoric.

For more information about the award or her work, contact Dr. Shevaun Watson at 715-836-4630 or watsonse@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB/JP

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