University of British Columbia, PhD

I earned my PhD from the Department of English at UBC, and joined the faculty in 2012. I study literature in the fields of auto/biography and rhetorical genre studies, which means I analyze how individuals and groups represent their own and others’ experiences through different forms of life narrative. My particular focus is online auto/biography, for example, social networking, blogs, and other sites such as Pinterest and PostSecret. My current projects examine the intersection of the digital and the archival in how individuals and communities make meaning of themselves and others on social media. I am the co-editor of two recent publications, Online Lives 2.0, a special issue of the journal Biography, with Dr. John Zuern, and Teaching Lives, with Dr. Kate Douglas (Routledge, 2017).  I also contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning, specializing in academic writing, the first-year experience, cohort learning, and student wellness and support. I am leading a 3-year project, “Our Cheating Hearts? Changing the Conversation through Academic Integrity Curriculum”: supported by UBC’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, we are developing new curriculum and pedagogical supports for academic integrity in first-year writing courses. In addition to teaching courses in English and the Coordinated Arts Program, I am Chair of First-Year Programs and Chair of Arts Studies in Research and Writing in the Faculty of Arts.

I teach in both English and the Coordinated Arts Program, offering courses in autobiography studies, archival studies, and academic writing. I have a background in both rhetorical genre studies and Canadian literature, and teach material related to trauma, memory, and disability studies as well as digital life narratives. My courses ask students to consider the role of contemporary literary, archival and cultural practices in society. How does the study of how and what people write, about themselves and others, in fictional and non-fictional forms, help us understand the work these texts do in the world (what rhetorician Carolyn Miller would call their “social actions” (1984), and why does that work matter?

  • “Witnessing Without Testimony: The Pedagogical Kairos of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies2 (Autumn 2015): 1-24.
  • McNeill, Laurie and John Zuern. Online Lives 2.0. Special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 38.2 (Spring 2015). 215 pp (“Introduction” v – xlvi).
  • “Life Bytes: Six-word Memoir and the Exigence of Auto/tweetographies.” Identity Technologies: Producing Online Selves. Ed. Anna Poletti and Julie Rak. Madison: U of Wisconsin, 2013. 144-64.
  • “There is No ‘I’ in Network: Social Networking Sites and Posthuman Autobiography.” Biography 35.1 (Summer 2012): 101-18.
  • “Memory Failure: The Limits of Memorial Writing as Collective Auto/biography.” Auto/Biography and Mediation. Ed. Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2010. 51-60.
  • “Brave New Genre or Generic Colonialism? Debates over Ancestry in Internet Diaries.” Genres in the Internet. Ed. Janet Giltrow and Dieter Stein. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. 143-61.
  • “Diary 2.0?: Blogs and Internet Diaries.” Language and New Media: Linguistic, Cultural, and Technological Evolutions. Ed. Charley Rowe and Eva Wyss. New Jersey: Hampton Press, 2009. 313-26.
  • “Death and the Maidens: Vancouver’s Missing Women, the Montreal Massacre, and Commemoration’s Blind Spots.” Canadian Review of American Studies 3 (2008). Spec. issue on popular auto/biography. Ed. Julie Rak. 375-98.
  • “Writing Lives in Death: Canadian Death Notices as Auto/biography.” Auto/biography in Canada: Theory, Criticism, Practice. Ed. Julie Rak. Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2005: 256-281.
  • Reconsidering Genre. Special issue of Life Writing (Curtin University of Technology, Perth: Australia), 2:2 (2005). 216 pp. (Guest-editing and introduction, pp. 1-15.)