Rhetorical Questions and Ruminations

Examining Early Career Faculty Experiences through Found Poetry





poetic inquiry, early career faculty, faculty experience, arts based research, higher education, questions


Transitioning from graduate student to early career faculty can often provoke uncertainty and questioning. This study explores the rhetorical and revealing nature of such questioning (i.e., Am I really this lost? Am I in the right place?). Utilizing methods from arts based research (Barone & Eisner, 2012), specifically poetic inquiry (Prendergast et al., 2009; Richardson, 1992), we created found poetry around rhetorical questions from our existing collaborative autoethnographic journal. We frame our findings with a selection of poems to provide insight into our lived experiences of transition. The question poems illustrate that our first year as assistant professors were preoccupied with managing tasks, balancing work, avoiding burnout, building relationships, and discovering how to belong in the new context. While rhetorical questions do not necessarily produce answers, questioning in a collaborative space allowed us to explore the struggle, complexity, and ambiguity of academic identity construction as early career faculty.

Author Biographies

Libba Willcox, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Libba Willcox is an Assistant Professor in Art Education at IUPUI. She engages in collaborative autoethnographic and arts based research endeavors to better understand teacher education and professional development. Her research interests include teacher education, professional development, vulnerability, feminist pedagogy, and qualitative reasoning.

Kate I. McCormick, State University of New York College at Cortland

Kate McCormick is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Childhood/Early Childhood Education at SUNY Cortland. She holds over ten years of experience in the field of early childhood education and teacher development. Her research interests explore the subjective experiences of early childhood educators’ well-being and participatory research methods with young children.



How to Cite

Willcox, L., & McCormick, K. (2021). Rhetorical Questions and Ruminations: Examining Early Career Faculty Experiences through Found Poetry. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 6(2), 389–414. https://doi.org/10.18432/ari29581