Alyssa J. O'Brien, Ph.D.
Research & Publications

"To search into (a matter or subject); to investigate or study closely. Also, to engage in research upon (a subject, a person, etc.)." -- OED

Since arriving at Stanford in 2001, Alyssa has written or co-authored seven textbooks as well as many articles and conference papers.  She’s been an invited speaker in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East on subjects such as global learning, communication for leadership, visual rhetoric, intercultural competencies, and “mapping a change in writing.”


Publications -- Books:

Stanford, Looking out to the Oval

New Books for 2013:  Christine Alfano and I are embarking on new editions of Envision: Writing and Researching Arguments(4th edition), the short argument book, and Envision-in-Depth: Reading, Writing, and Researching Arguments (3rd edition), the big reader. 

Thanks to our reviewers, our students, and our colleagues who use these books in the classroom – especially at Clemson, at SLCC, and around the country.  A special thanks to our international friends at the American University in Cairo, at Orebro University in Sweden, at the National University of Singapore, at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, at Seoul National University, and at the University of Sydney.  We hope that the forthcoming new editions meet your teaching needs!

Envision, 3rd edition. Published 2011.

Envision in Depth, 2nd Edition. Published 2011.

See the companion website at

Envision In-Depth: Reading, Writing, and Researching Arguments (A Visual Culture Reader).  Co-authored with Christine Alfano. Pearson Longman Publishers, 2007; MLA Edition 2009.  Find it on Amazon


The best of Envision but with nine chapters of readings as case studies on the most interesting topics today: gaming, photo ethics, body image, war, religion, copyright, international sports, media coverage, tattoo culture, and more!

Instructor’s Manual to Envision in Depth.

This comprehensive pedagogical guide, written by the authors of Envision, walks new teachers through the steps of designing, leading, and facilitating writing classes using technology, visual texts, rhetorical concepts, and the latest in composition theory.

Envision: Writing and Researching Arguments. Co-authored with Christine Alfano.  Pearson Longman Publishers, 2008; MLA edition 2009.  See it on

This majorly improved “second edition” offers a focus on different media in every chapter – how do we understand, analyze, write about, and produce multiple media?  Each chapter offers solid rhetorical instruction, model visual and textual readings, plus annotated student work.  An improved practical guide, Envision teaches core skills in analysis, argument, and research, using both contemporary examples to capture reader interest and key principles from classical rhetoric.

Instructor’s Manual to Envision


Written by the authors, in collaboration with Kristi Wilson, this guide helps new teachers use the shorter version of Envision.

Envision: Persuasive Writing in a Visual World. Co-authored with Christine Alfano. NY: Longman Publishers, 2004. 1st Edition.

Envision was the first brief argument rhetoric designed for students learning to write in today's visual world. We were proud to offer this book, with its flexible three-part organization, to instructors.  Those who want to focus on argument and rhetorical analysis can emphasize Part 1. Those who want more intensive work in research and source-based writing will focus on Part 2. For innovative courses that include visual design, oral presentation, and multimedia writing projects, Part 3 offers the most fully developed textbook coverage available in a brief rhetoric.

 Envision Online: The Comprehensive Companion Website.  Launched September 2004.


After extensive research, we put together this companion website that showcases over 240 student papers, annotated bibliographies for working with every media, in-class activities and assignment guidelines, and special resources for attending to diverse learners.  There are pages for instructors too.

Instructor's Notes to The New St. Martin's Handbook, 6th edition. Co-authored with Andrea Lunsford and Cheryl Glenn. Boston/ NY: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 2008.


Thanks to Andrea Lunsford for inviting me again to work with her on this project as a contribution to our fields of writing and composition.

Instructor's Notes to The New St. Martin's Handbook, 5th edition. Co-authored with Andrea Lunsford and Cheryl Glenn. Boston/ NY: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 2003.

Recent Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals or Book Collections:        

°      “Tech Travels: Connecting Writing Classes across Continents.” Alyssa O’Brien, Christine Alfano. In Press at Transnational WPA, Ed. David Martins. Utah University Press (forthcoming 2013).

°      “Fostering Intercultural Dialogue via Communication Technologies.” In Meaning-Centered Education: International Perspectives and Explorations in Higher Education . Eds. Olga Kovbasyuk and Patrick Blessinger . Routledge (forthcoming 2013).

°      “Priorities in the Classroom: Pedagogies for High Performance Learning Spaces.” Robert Emery Smith, Helen Chen, Menko Johnson, Alyssa J. O’Brien, Cammy Huang-DeVoss. In Informed Design of Educational Technologies in Higher Education: Enhanced Learning and Teaching. Eds. Anders D. Olofsson and Ola Lindberg. IGI Global, 2012. 474-495.

°      “Global Citizenship and the Stanford Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Project,” Journal of the NUS Teaching Academy. 1.1 (November 2011): 32-43.

°      “The Rhetoric of Store-Window Mannequins.” Emma Engdahl, Marie Gelang, Alyssa O’Brien. Proceedings of the 9 th OSSA Conference, October 2011. U Windsor. Ed. Frank Zenker.

°          “Cross-Cultural Connections: Intercultural Learning for Global Citizenship,” Alyssa O’Brien and Anders Eriksson. In Locating Intercultures: Educating for Global Collaboration . Eds. Mara Alagic and Glyn Rimmington . MacMillan, 2010. 29-50.

°          “Connecting Students Globally Through Video-Conference Pedagogy,” Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Eds. Edward H. Perry and Michelle L. Pilati. Vol 5, No. 4 (December 2009):

°          “Drawn to Multiple Sides // Making Arguments Visible with Political Cartoons,” in Writing the Visual:  A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication, Eds. Anne Richards and Carol David.  Parlor Press, 2008.  183-200.

°          “Improving Cross-Cultural Communication through Collaborative Technologies,” Alyssa O’Brien, Christine Alfano and Eva Magnusson. Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication, LNCS. Vol. 4744 (July 2007): 125-131.

Recent Articles in Online or Multimedia Publications:

°         “Moving to Collaborative Multimedia Writing in the Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Project,” The Rhet Herring, American University of Cairo Writing and Rhetoric Newsletter.  July 2009. 

°         “Stanford Writing Students Go Global through CCR,” Edutopia. “How to Go Global in Your Classroom Bob Lenz  June 30, 2009

°         Cross-Cultural Rhetoric: Diversity on a Global Scale.  Invited Blog Entry on CCCC Blog.  March 19, 2009.

°          “Studies in Global Rhetoric,” Stanford English Department Newsletter, September 2007.

°         “Plasma Screens as Portals to the World.” Alyssa O’Brien Feature Story in PWR Newsletter, Online Global News, Spring-Summer (June 2007).

°         Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Results: “White Paper: Assessment Report.” This white paper presents the results of data analysis, 2006-2007 Örebro-Stanford Exchange, Published June 2007.

°         “Hej! That's Swedish for Hello,” Alyssa O’Brien Feature Story PWR Newsletter, Online Global News, Winter (January 2007).

°          “Envision: A technology-enhanced means of teaching writing in a visual world,” Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning Newsletter (Jan 2005):

Articles Published before my arrival at Stanford University:


“Theorizing Feminisms: Breast Cancer Narratives and Reconstructed ‘Women,’” in Exclusions in Feminist Thought: Challenging the Boundaries of Womanhood, ed. Mary F. Brewer, Sussex Academic Press, 2002.

“The Molly Blooms of ‘Penelope’: Reading Joyce Archivally,” The Journal of Modern Literature 24.1 (Fall 2001): 7-24.  HTML version (Project Muse)

“Manipulating Visual Pleasure in Muriel,The Quarterly Review of Film and Video 17.1 (April 2000): 49-61. 

Book Reviews:

  • “Putting Down the Butcher Knife of Alcoholism,” Review of LIT: A Memoir, by Mary Karr. National Catholic Reporter. December 2009.
  • “Reading Modernist Time through 4 Women Writers,” Review of Modernism, Daily Time, and Everyday Life, by Bryony Randall. ELT: English Literature in Transition, 53.2 (2010): 251-254.
  • “Ibsen: Rethinking Modernism’s Grand Narratives,” Review of Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism, by Toril Moi. ELT: English Literature in Transition.  51.3 (September 2008): 315-319.
  • “The Virtual Marshall McLuhan,” by Donald Theall, Review in The James Joyce Quarterly 40.4 (Summer 2003): 885-888.
  • “Modernist Aesthetes as Commodities,” Review of “Am I a Snob?”: Modernism and the Novel, by Sean Latham.  ELT: English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 48:3 (2005): 348-352.
  • Ulysses's Promise for a Post-Colonial Ireland,” Book Review of Joyce's Revenge: History, Politics, and Aesthetics in Ulysses, by Andrew Gibson (NY: Oxford University Press, 2002): ELT: English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 47:2 (Jan 2004): 231-235.
  • "Cites for Sore Eyes," Book Review of Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation, by Eloise Knowlton, in The James Joyce Literary Supplement, 15.2 (Fall 2001): 18-19.

Manuscript Reviews:

  • The NEXT Reader.  Manuscript Review for McGraw-Hill.  September 2004; March 2005; May 2006.
  • The Everyday Writer, Revision Review for Bedford/St. Martin's, March 2003.
  • The Contemporary American Short Story, Manuscript Review for Longman, March 2002.
  • Behind the Short Story: From First to Final Draft, Manuscript Review for Longman, January 2002.
  • Shaping the Story, Manuscript Review for Longman Publishers, December 2001.
  • Quick Access, by Lynn Quitman Troyka; Book Review for Prentice Hall Publishers, November 2001.


“Gendered Disidentification in the Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Nella Larsen: A Modernist Aesthetic of Mobility.” Director: James Longenbach, University of Rochester, Department of English.

Research Collaboration Endeavors:

  • Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Collaboration, 2006-2012 (with universities across five continents)
  • Stanford-University of Texas, Austin, research core collaboration, 2009
  • Wallenberg Global Learning Network, International Collaboration, 2006-2009
  • Writing Program Administrator’s Reading and Professional Development Group, 2004-2007
  • Visual Rhetoric Reading Group; Co-Founder, 2004
  • Professional Activities Committee Co-Chair; Research Discussions Series, 2003-2004
  • IHUM-PWR Scholarship Exchange, Founder, 2002
  • Rhetoric Reading Group, Stanford University, 2001-2003
  • Radical Pedagogy Group, Stanford University, 2001-2002
  • Feminist Theory Group and Interdisciplinary Exchange, Stanford University, 2001-2003





Alyssa J. O'Brien, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Stanford, CA 94305
Tel. (650) 723-3802

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