Integrated Search Menu

Wendy Williams

Biography: 

Wendy R. Williams, Assistant Professor of English in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, studies creative multimodal writing in a variety of forms, including songwriting, spoken word poetry, picturebooks, graphic novels, short films, and animation. Her research focuses on writers' practices, tools, and attitudes, as well as the contexts and communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) in which writers thrive. Sociocultural theory, visual/multimodal theory, and narrative/arts-based approaches to research (Barone & Eisner, 1997) guide her work. 

Her first book, Listen to the Poet: Writing, Performance, and Community in Youth Spoken Word Poetry, was published in 2018 by the University of Massachusetts Press. This book makes several important contributions to writing and youth literacies research: 1) It provides an in-depth study of a diverse spoken word poetry organization in Arizona. 2) It employs narrative analysis to draw attention to the complexities and multiple voices in the research space. 3) It contrasts an out-of-school group and an after-school club. 4) It offers suggestions for making school more relevant and meaningful for youth in terms of writing, performance, community, and authorship. 5) It shows how the organization cultivated safe spaces within a larger political context ripe with racism and discriminatory legislation.

She is currently researching and writing her next two books:

  • Mentoring Youth Writers will share findings from a four-year study of a writing-mentoring program (estimated completion Summer 2022).
  • Visual Storytellers will investigate how students interpret and compose narratives such as picturebooks, graphic novels, animation, and short films. This project will draw on research from six studies conducted during a four-year period (estimated completion Summer 2024).

Professor Williams teaches in the Narrative Studies MA program and the English BA program in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. She has developed many new English courses, including ENG 446/520 Visual Narratives, ENG 466 Studio Ghibli Films, ENG 473 Critical Approaches to Children's Literature, ENG 484/584 Mentoring Youth Writers (Internship), and ENG 505 Narrative Research Methods. Before becoming an assistant professor in 2015, she taught high school and middle school English for nine years. 

She is the Teaching Creative Writing column editor for English Journal, founding director of ASU's Young Authors' Studio program, chair of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Awards Committee, and co-chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards in Writing Advisory Committee.

Education: 

Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction: English Education, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University (2015)

Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 446Visual Narratives
ENG 520Visual Narratives
ENG 590Reading and Conference
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 466Studies in International Film
ENG 484Internship
ENG 584Internship
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 446Visual Narratives
ENG 505Narrative Research Methods
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 466Studies in International Film
ENG 473Crit Approaches Children's Lit
ENG 598Special Topics
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 446Visual Narratives
ENG 484Internship
ENG 520Visual Narratives
ENG 584Internship
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 505Narrative Research Methods
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 473Crit Approaches Children's Lit
ENG 484Internship
ENG 499Individualized Instruction
ENG 584Internship
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
COM 394Special Topics
ENG 394Special Topics
ENG 471Literature for Young Adults
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 101First-Year Composition
ENG 394Special Topics
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ENG 394Special Topics
ENG 482Methods of Teaching: Language
ENG 493Honors Thesis
Service: 

Wendy R. Williams is the founding director of ASU's Young Authors' Studio (YAS), a free writing program for youth in grades 5-12. In this program, which launched in 2017, undergraduate/graduate students serve as writing mentors for youth, earning credit for their work through the internship, ENG 484/584 Mentoring Youth Writers. YAS moved online in 2020 and today consists of a website with writing activities, personalized writing feedback, and Unscriptedan online journal that publishes the work of youth writers each spring. Professor Williams is also the force behind ASU's Sparky Slam. This spoken word poetry competition for youth poets was held in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Both Young Authors' Studio and the Sparky Slam have welcomed kids onto ASU campuses, celebrated youth voices, encouraged out-of-school writing, provided leadership opportunities for ASU students, and made college more real and accessible to people in the community.

In addition to doing service that builds bridges between ASU and the community, Professor Williams is engaged in national service to her profession. As the Teaching Creative Writing column editor for English Journal, she has sought to push the boundaries of what is considered "creative writing," including multimodal forms of writing as well. As the co-chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards in Writing Advisory Committee, she has advocated for inclusive prompts that honor students' ethnicities, communities, and funds of knowledge. She has also expanded the forms of writing accepted to the contest in order to spark student creativity and support a broad range of interests, talents, and ways of knowing.

Professor Williams serves on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and has reviewed manuscripts for Routledge, the Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, and the International Journal of English Studies. She has also reviewed conference proposals for several national organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the NCTE Assembly for Research, the Literacy Research Association, and the American Educational Research Association.   

In 2018, she started the annual fall series, Humanities Dialogues, to promote the scholarship of professors in her unit and to encourage cross-disciplinary conversations between students and professors. As the Humanities Dialogues series organizer for two years, she hosted six events. Currently she serves as chair of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts Awards Committee. On this committee, she has streamlined the application process, established college grants, and expanded the number of awards (adding new awards to recognize equity and inclusion, innovation, mentoring of faculty, and outstanding staff).