Hello! I’m Stephanie Mahnke, a second-year PhD student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. I got my undergraduate degree in English Literature at UCLA, but after that, I spent many years abroad and working at community colleges. It was during that break between undergrad and grad that I developed interests in community-building and the rhetorical power of places/spaces. As a PhD student, my main research interests include Filipinx rhetorics, the rhetoric of place/space, identity-place inter-relationships, and network and mapping theories. More specifically, I focus on critical understandings of place as rhetoric as a means of support for civic purposes and sustaining cultural histories.
My research has revolved around cultural geographies, particularly how physical sites work toward cultural memory/forgetting. Recent work has included analysis of cultural sites in Egypt, Atlanta and Las Vegas. My work and place/space lens has also lent contribution to other area studies, such as collaboration with a Las Vegas environmental group which sought public participation for conservation efforts. This research ultimately leads to my current work on how nostalgia and culture are sustained in Filipinx communal spaces in their new host countries. The results of such a study, I believe, works to sustain cultural narratives but also reveal the hidden geographies of underrepresented cultures such as those in the Filipinx and Asian American Midwest communities. My hope is to eventually use digital spaces as repositories and engaging platforms to represent the place data in rich, highly accessible, non-linear formats such as interactive maps and networks. Being a CHI fellow brings me closer to that realization, and I’m very excited to work alongside such a brilliant cohort of scholars!