Interview with Professor Amber Buck
Professor Amber Buck joined the CRES faculty in 2015. English always “felt like fun instead of work” to Dr. Buck, so it came as no surprise that she entered college with a thirst for literature and the study of writing. She received her B.A. in English from at Albion College. Her passion to help people improve their own writing and her work as a writing tutor inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in this area.
When Professor Amber Buck began her graduate work in Rhetoric and Composition, she felt drawn to study communication through technology. Buck states that she was “really interested in both writing technologies—how people use different technologies to write—and also online identity construction.” This interest inspired her dissertation, which analyzed how various individuals work through issues of identity and audience. Prior to coming to The University of Alabama, Buck worked at the College of Staten Island at the City University of New York. Her transition from New York to Alabama has reinforced her awareness of the necessity to craft and adapt one’s content based on the individual and collective identity of the audience. For example, she uses different samples and various assignments to tap the local and regional interests of the students.
As a digital media specialist, she sees great value in numerous social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. At the same time, though, she is also “concerned about privacy: how much is shared and with whom, and how much should an individual should reveal about him or herself?” Through her research, Buck discovered that “mobile phones are probably the most important and most frequently used writing device . . . not only for texting, but for social media, taking notes and other writing tasks.”
As Buck explains, this ability to make writing visible and accessible across different platforms can be the difference in how many people see a writer’s work. Buck believes that what happens online then becomes integrated into offline life and that the two realms influence each other. As Buck puts it, “so many of our daily activities have become integrated with our smart phones, and that goes for the kind of less formal writing we do on a daily basis as well.”
Working with students in writing centers has also influenced Buck’s teaching style. As she has grown accustom to working with students one on one, she now schedules “conferences and mini-conferences in class, just to check in with everyone individually on the assignment and answer questions students might not want to ask in front of the whole class.” Buck encourages students interested in media and technology to take classes that challenge them to write through different media, especially design and interactive content. For those interested in education and research, she recommends gaining experience through tutoring, which she believes is great preparation for a teaching assistant position in graduate school.
In addition to her work at UA, Buck is also the Social Media and Visibility Editor for Computers and Composition Digital Press (CCDP). CCDP is an academic press that publishes book length digital projects in rhetoric and composition. Her responsibilities include publicizing upcoming projects and soliciting reviews for recent titles. She enjoys this work because she is able to interact with a wide range of composition, rhetoric, and media scholars engaged in composition pedagogy. Whether she is connecting online with students and colleagues at UA or in the academic publishing world, it’s clear that we should all give Dr. Buck a thumbs up “Like.”