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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Aja Y. Martinez

Martinez portrait

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 436 - #metoo: The Stories and Social Movements of Feminist Rhetorics (SP.19)

CCR 631 - Contemporary Rhetorics—Cultural Rhetorics (SP.19)

WRT 300 - Professional Writing: Writing Your Way into Grad School (FA.19)

CCR 760 - Advanced Studies in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric: Counterstory and the Writings and Rhetorics of Critical Race Theory (FA.19)


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.

Selected Articles

Martinez, Aja Y. “The Responsibility of Privilege: A Critical Race Counterstory Conversation.” Peitho: Journal of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, vol. 21, no. 1, 2018, pp. 212-233.

Martinez, Aja Y. “Alejandra Writes a Book: A Critical Race Counterstory about Writing, Identity, and Being Chicanx in the Academy.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 13, no. 2, 2016, pp. 56-61.

Martinez, Aja Y. “A Plea for Critical Race Theory Counterstory: Dialogues Concerning Alejandra’s ‘Fit’ in the Academy.” Composition Studies, vol. 42, no. 2, 2014, pp. 33-55. Selected for inclusion in 2016’s Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition.

Martinez, Aja Y. “Critical Race Theory: Its Origins, History, and Importance to the Discourses and Rhetorics of Race.” Frame—Journal of Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 2, 2014, pp. 9-27.

Martinez, Aja Y. “‘The American Way’: Resisting the Empire of Force and Colorblind Racism.” College English, vol. 71, no. 6, 2009, pp. 584-595.