Clay Spinuzzi

By Mark Zachry w/ Bill Hart-Davidson

We are excited today to recognize your contributions to the field of technical communication and to writing and rhetoric studies by elevating you to the status of Fellow in the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing. For more than 25 years, you have made notable contributions to our field as a scholar, teacher, and involved citizen in our extended community of colleagues. 

After earning a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of North Texas in 1991, you shifted your academic focus to technical communication. Upon earning an M.A. in English with an emphasis on technical writing at UNT, you pursued your Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication at Iowa State University. Your excellence as an emerging scholar in that program was recognized with a Research Excellence Award in 1999. On the national stage, you received the 2000 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication from the CCCC Committee on Technical Communication.

From the very beginning of your intellectual engagement with the field of technical communication, you have been an inventive, insightful, and productive scholar, demonstrating a remarkable ability to create theoretically ground, deftly executed empirical investigations.  This work has yielded dozens of articles in journals, including all the core journals in our field. Beyond that, though, you have also represented our field well by taking intellectual perspectives from our field into the scholarly conversations in other fields including human-computer interaction and organizational communication. We applaud your sustained work as a scholar ambassador for technical communication.

Your four scholarly monographs stand as exceptional intellectual accomplishments for advancing thinking in our field: Tracing Genres through Organizations (2003), Network: Theorizing Knowledge Work in Telecommunications (2008), Topsight: A Guide to Studying, Diagnosing, and Fixing Information Flow in Organizations (2013) and All Edge: Inside the New Workplace Networks (2015). Each of these volumes has helped shape the intellectual terrain of our field, influencing conversation among established scholars and guiding advanced students in their work.  Of particular note, your scholarly publications have advanced our knowledge about activity theory, genre theory and analysis, ethnography, organizational analysis, and entrepreneurship.

The quality of your scholarship has garnered attention over the last two decades. Among your awards are three CCCC citations for the Best Article on Philosophy or Theory in Technical Communication, a award for Best Article Reporting Qualitative or Quantitative Research in Technical or Scientific Communication, and a Nell Ann Pickett Award for Best Article in ​Technical Communication Quarterly. Beyond this, your work has been recognized with a Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication​. In 2004 and a Best Original Collection of Essays in Technical or Scientific Communication in 2018. You have also been recognized internationally by a group of scholarly peers that include Bonnie Nardi, Yrjo Engestrom, and others active in animating what has been called “Fourth Generation Activity Theory” as a global research community.

In addition to your scholarship and mentorship, you have been an active and engaged contributor to ATTW for nearly two decades, serving in a variety of roles with the organization. You have served aon the membership commitee 2002-2005 and also as Chair/Coordinator of the Research Committee (2005-7). You have been a multiple time reviewer for the Nell Ann Picket Award Committee and have served on the ATTW Program Committee consistently since 2008. You have led our graduate research workshops, sponsored by the Research Committee, which is a role that helps our early career colleagues around the country become well-versed in important methodological approaches that your own work helped to make an essential part of the technical communication toolkit. And you currently serve as a member of the ATTW Book Series Editorial Advisory Board. For these important contributions and for the continued dedication to the organization that they represent, we offer our thanks and our congratulations!

Your prolific work as a thinker and writer extends beyond traditional venues for academic scholarship, too, having impacts that are not limited to closed academic circles. For many years you have recorded ideas and insights about books on your voluminous public blog. Your work in and around the Austin area on co-working spaces has helped local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as students and your fellow researchers in other disciplines. And, notoriously, you have also been among the most prolific social media contributors in our field via your wry observations of life in Austin, Texas on Twitter. It is not a stretch to say that the Spinuzzi bus tweets were one of the best things about Twitter in the early days of that service!

As a faculty member in Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin since 2001, you have impacted many students, teaching varied courses in Rhetoric and Writing, English. And you were a founding faculty member of the Human Dimensions of Organizations program at UT, helping to shape an innovative, interdisciplinary program that brings broad recognition and value to the knowledge of our field to a whole new audience. Beyond an impressive array of undergraduate and graduate courses you have developed and offered at UT, you have supervised several dissertation projects and helped to launch the careers of other scholars in the field. And, true to the most important values of our organization, your work at UT does not stop at the boundaries of the campus but has also extended to volunteering your expertise to assist diverse local organizations in the Austin area.

Your many achievements and accomplishments represent our field in the best ways possible. It is with great pride that we count you as an exemplary member and leader in the field of technical communication.

The community of ATTW Fellows is pleased to welcome Dr. Clay Spinuzzi!