I'm Michael Lawrence.
I'm a writer, editor, researcher, and educator. I'm interested in media, culture, design, and public communication. And I'm taking a leap.
I'm A Leap year Fellow
I'm currently a fellow with the Experience Institute, a unique program blazing new trails in higher education. I'm designing a year of experiences for myself focused on exploring new contexts where critical inquiry, playful experimentation, and big ideas can fuel meaningful cultural dialogue and creative innovation.
Right now I'm working with the global brand team at eBay. (Read about that experience here.)
I'm looking for opportunities to contribute to — and learn from — teams committed to making the world a better place through design, storytelling, and community engagement.
I'M A WORD NERD
I’m fascinated by the ways language works in contemporary culture. This obsession earned me a Ph.D. in Communication / Rhetorical Studies, which I’m trying now to put to good use.
I’ve spent more than a decade training college students to write more effectively, think more creatively, and analyze cultural messages in more sophisticated ways.
At Columbia College Chicago, my courses taught students from arts and media disciplines to connect with the bigger ideas that give their creative work meaning. At The University of Iowa, I taught foundational writing and public speaking courses, as well as more advanced classes in media, culture, and communication. See my courses.
I've also led workshops for teachers designed to help them facilitate better discussions and more effectively engage with issues of politics and identity in the classroom.
I write about contemporary culture, especially movies, tv shows, ads, food, tech, and whatever people are buzzing about. Sometimes I go meta and write about the buzz itself — cultural commentary about cultural commentary. You'll find lots of my writing here.
My publications include:
- a chapter in a book about college teaching
- a poem about the Barefoot Contessa's unwillingness to hang out with a Make-A-Wish kid.
- a billboard in Times Square
I HELP OTHERS WRITE
I've worked with small businesses and creative professionals, helping them refine their messaging and tell more powerful stories.
I’ve coached entrepreneurial bloggers as they developed voice and strategy for their content. I've workshopped language with lawyers and poets and scholars, and crafted copy in contexts where every word matters. See some projects.
My academic work is rooted in rhetorical criticism and cultural studies. I look at things like movies, tv shows, advertisements, speeches, and news coverage. I use critical textual analysis to explore what these texts can tell us about our shared values and ideals. (Learn more about my scholarly research here.)
I'm curious about ways rhetorical research and critical methods might contribute meaningfully to the design process.