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Dr. Derek Sparby

Associate Professor
Stevenson Hall - STV 421B
Office Hours
Wednesday 2-3pm and by appointment (Zoom)
  • About
  • Education
  • Awards & Honors
  • Research


Digital, feminist, and cultural rhetorics and technical communication, including social media, memes, and online aggression; gender and identity in digital public discourse; ethics and participation

Current Courses

599.027Research And Dissertation

599.127Research And Dissertation Final Term

249.001Technical & Professional Writing I

Teaching Interests & Areas

Digital technical communication; digital, feminist, and cultural rhetorics; digital aggression, web design, information architecture, social media, ethics, tactical technical communication, crisis communication

Research Interests & Areas

Digital, feminist, and cultural rhetorics and technical communication, including social media, memes, and online aggression; gender and identity in digital public discourse; ethics and participation; tactical technical communication and crisis communication

Ph D Rhetoric and Composition; Technical Communication

Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL

MA English Studies

University of Colorado
Boulder, CO

2021 CCCC Best in Technical and Scientific Communication Awards

Conference on College Composition and Communication

2024-2025 CAS Outstanding College Researcher Award

ISU, College of Arts and Sciences

Alice and Fannie Fell Trust

Illinois State University

Sage Fund

Illinois State University

2019 Distinguished Book Award

Computers and Composition

Alice and Fannie Fell Trust

Illinois State University

Teaching Innovation Grant

CTLT, Illinois State Unviversity

Pre-Tenure Faculty Initiative Grant

Illinois State University

Exceptional Teacher of the Year Award—Assistant Professor

English Department

Sigma Tau Delta Outstanding Faculty Member Award

Sigma Tau Delta

Book, Authored

Sparby, Erika M. (Forthcoming 2023). Memetic rhetorics: Building a rhetorical toolkit for ethical meming. University of Michigan Press.

Book, Chapter

Lukowski, A. A. & Sparby, E. M. (2016). Breastfeeding, Authority, and Genre: Women’s Ethos in Wikipedia and Blogs. Establishing and Evaluating Digital Ethos and Online Credibility. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Cox, Courtney & Sparby, Erika M. (2022). Toward an audience-centered approach: Rhetorical analysis of university crisis communication emails. In Samuel Stinson & Mary Le Rouge (Eds.) Embodied environmental risk in technical communication: Problems and solutions toward social sustainability. New York: Routledge, ATTW Series.

Book, Edited

Reyman, J., & Sparby, E.M., eds. (2019). Digital Ethics: Rhetoric and Responsibility in Online Aggression. London, Routledge.

Journal Article

Cox, Courtney & Sparby, Erika M. (2022). Investigating disembodied risk in university crisis communications during COVID-19. Communication Design Quarterly.
Sparby, Erika M. (2022). Meming misogyny at the political divide. enculturation. Invited submission.
Bishop, Tiffany, Capan, Emily, Larsen, Brittany, Preston, Raven, & Sparby, Erika M. (2021). Tactical risk communication: Observations from teaching and learning about risk communication during COVID-19. Technical Communication Quarterly.
Sparby, Erika M. (2021). Reading mean comments to subvert gendered hate on YouTube: Toward a spectrum of digital aggression response. enculturation.
Sparby, E. M. (2017). Digital Social Media and Aggression: Memetic Rhetoric in 4chan’s Collective Identity. Computers and Composition, 45,. Pp. 85-97.


With Ela Przybylo. (Under development for Spring 2022). Zine-making Toward Social Change: Activism, Rhetoric, and Publishing Minoritarian Cultures
Sparby, Erika M. (June 2021). Memetic critical power tools: Teaching an ethic of privacy and identity for memes in the technical communication classroom. Paper accepted to the Association for the Teachers of Technical Writing Conference, Zoom. (Paper was originally accepted for the 2020 conference, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
With Ela Przybylo. (February and March 2021). Podcasting Toward Social Change: Sound-Based Pedagogy and Scholarship During COVID-19. Speaker series featuring Joi Adams, Ada Jaarsma, and Hannah McGregor
Gelms, Bridget, Gruwell, Leigh, Manivannan, Vyshali, & Sparby, Erika M. (December 2020). Intersectional feminism & digital aggression: Research experiences and approaches. Hosted by the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. Zoom.
Sparby, Erika M. (March 2020). YouTube, haters, and reading mean comments: Testing a rhetorical-ethical approach to studying online aggression (as part of a co-organized panel called “Questioning the Commonplaces of Digital aggression: New approaches for researching and teaching productive response to online hate speech and harassment”). Paper accepted to Conference on College Composition and Communication, Milwaukee, WI. (Conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
Sparby, Erika M. (May 2020). Ethically engaging with digital activism and digital media. Roundtable accepted to Computers and Writing, Greenville, NC. (Conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
Sparby, Erika M. (October 2020). Digital aggression: Research, experience, and policy. Invited panelist for Leveled: Gendered online aggression and the move toward equality in the digital workspace, a Zoom event and workshop hosted by the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women & Gender.
With Ela Przybylo and Raven Preston. (December 2020). Antiracist Pedagogies Workshop. This workshop featured student specialists (Nina Hanee Jang, Chamelia Moore, and Eric Korankye) who gave antiracist pedagogical feedback to teachers in the English Department
"Digital Rhetorics and an Ethic of Responsibility in Online Aggression." Invited presentation for the English Department Faculty Lecture Series. November 2019, Normal, IL
"Meming Ethically." Invited keynote address for Language and Rhetorical Studies symposium. October 2019, Ann Arbor, MI