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Aja Y. Martinez

Aja Y. Martinez

Assistant Professor
Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

234 HB Crouse Hall


Ph.D., University of Arizona, Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English, 2012

Research & Scholarship

I conduct research on and teach a range of courses concerning rhetorics of race and ethnicity, including the rhetorics of race within both Western and non-Euro-Western contexts, and beginning, professional and advanced writing courses.

My single-authored monograph, Counterstory: The Writing and Rhetoric of Critical Race Theory currently under review in the series Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, presents counterstory as a method by which to actualize critical race theory (CRT) in rhetoric and composition studies research and pedagogy. I argue specifically that counterstory provides opportunities for other(ed) perspectives to contribute to conversations about narrative, dominant ideology, and their intersecting influence on curricular standards and institutional practices. Voices from the margins can become voices of authority through the formation of counterstories—stories that examine, document, and expose the persistence of racial oppression and other forms of subordination. Counterstory serves as a natural extension of inquiry for theorists whose research recognizes and incorporates lived and embodied experiences of marginalized peoples both in the U.S. and abroad. My method provides an interdisciplinary understanding of how counterstory functions, while accomplishing a further goal of establishing counterstory as a pedagogically employable method in writing classrooms.


My teaching philosophy centers on the word “access.” Access to the institution for students is central to the lines of inquiry I pursue as a teacher-scholar, so much so, that my research is interdisciplinary and informed by scholarship in Rhetoric, Composition Studies, and Education. I am primarily interested in the efforts toward diversity in the classroom beyond a sole focus on the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of students occupying our course seats. Diversity should also include rigorous attention to what is being taught as thematic focuses, texts, methods of analysis, and genres of writing, and what sort of flexibility I maintain as a teacher to recognize room for growth and change within my own practice. I believe in thinking introspectively about my own teacher subjectivities in the classroom, and I use this self-reflection to inform my philosophical approaches to teaching that respects the varying contexts of my students.

Current and Future Courses

WRT 105 | Introduction to College Writing: Composing College and Career (FA.16)

WRT 424 | Studies in Writing, Rhetoric and Identity: Rhetorics of Race, Citizenship, and Nation (FA.16)

WRT 428 | Studies in Composition, Rhetoric and Literacy: Rhetorics and Technologies of Social Movements (SP.17)

CCR 760 | Advanced Studies in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric: Counterstory and the Writings and Rhetorics of Critical Race Theory (SP.17)

Recent Publications

Martinez, Aja Y. Counterstory: The Writing and Rhetoric of Critical Race Theory. Urbana, IL: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric. Proposal accepted, full manuscript under review.

Young, Vershawn Ashanti and Aja Y. Martinez, ed. Code-meshing as World English: Policy, Pedagogy, and Performance. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 2011.

Selected Articles 
Martinez, Aja Y. “A Personal Reflection on Chican@ Language and Identity in the US-Mexico Borderlands: The English-Language Hydra as Past and Present Imperialism.” Why English? Confronting the Hydra. Ed. Vaughan Rapatahana, Robert Phillipson, Pauline Bunce, and Ruanni Tupas. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2016. 211-219.

Martinez, Aja Y. “Critical Race Theory: Its Origins, History, and Importance to the Discourses and Rhetorics of Race.” Frame—Journal of Literary Studies. 27.2 (2014). 9-27.

Martinez, Aja Y. “A Plea for Critical Race Theory Counterstory: Dialogues Concerning Alejandra’s ‘Fit’ in the Academy.” Composition Studies. 42.2 (2014). 33-55. Selected for inclusion in 2016’s Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition.

Martinez, Aja Y. “Critical Race Theory Counterstory as Allegory: A Rhetorical Trope to Raise Awareness About Arizona’s Ban on Ethnic Studies.” Across the Disciplines. Fall (2013). 26pp.

Martinez, Aja Y. “‘The American Way’: Resisting the Empire of Force and Colorblind Racism.” College English. 71.6 (2009). 584-595.