Meet the Faculty

Allison D. Carr

Esther and Robert Armstrong Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, Department Chair

Headshot of Allison CarrB.A., Coe College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Cincinnati 
Dr. Carr teaches courses that push students to discover and interrogate the ways language shapes our understanding of the world, both in terms of our personal experiences and in how we interpret patterns, events and tensions in our shared social and political spheres. She teaches courses in nonfiction writing, critical/rhetorical theory, environmental rhetoric, and writing studies, among others. She also directs the college’s Writing Across the Curriculum program.

As a researcher, Dr. Carr is interested in the affective/emotional dimensions of teaching and learning. Her dissertation studied the role of failure in the writing process, ultimately arguing for a conceptualization of failure as integral to the scene of writing, an intensive and intentional activity that produces discomfort and, from that, more inventive, wandering, and wondering ways of moving and being in the world. Her writing on this and other subjects has appeared in Composition Forum, Harlot of the Arts, Pedagogy, Computers and Composition Online, and two edited collections: Naming What We Know (Adler-Kassner and Wardle, eds.) and Bad Ideas About Writing (Ball and Loewe, eds.) With Laura Micciche, she edited a book on failure, Failure Pedagogies: Learning and Unlearning What It Means to Fail (2020); she is currently at work on a second edited collection, Revising Moves: Showing and Narrating Revision in Action with four other colleagues, forthcoming from University Press of Colorado/Utah State University Press in February 2024. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Quail Bell Magazine, The Rumpus, Apple in the Dark, and CRAFT Literary and forthcoming in Archetype. Her essay “Losing Composure” (CRAFT 2020) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and designated as Notable Nonfiction in Best American Essays 2021.

Shawn Harmsen

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Shawn HarmsenB.A., Wartburg College
M.A., University of Northern Iowa
Ph.D., University of Iowa
Phone: 319.399.8758
Email: SHarmsen@coe.edu

Before deciding to pursue his Ph.D., Dr. Harmsen spent over a decade as a professional broadcast journalist, working in both local radio and television news. His areas of study include scholarship on journalism, mass communication, social and racial justice, political economy and cultural theory. Harmsen teaches both practical and theoretical based courses, including Journalism Writing, Multimedia Journalism, Digital Storytelling and Advanced Production, as well as Media Analysis, New Media Studies and sometimes Cultural Theory and Rhetorical Theory. Harmsen coauthors a textbook on the mass communication industry, Media Essentials and is the faculty advisor for the student newspaper Cosmos and student radio station KCOE. He is also the faculty advisor for the newly formed e-Sports club on campus.  

Jane Nesmith

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Director of the Writing Center

Jane NesmithB.A., College of Wooster
M.A., Indiana University
Ph.D., University of Iowa
Phone: 319.399.8036

Email: JNesmith@coe.edu

Dr. Nesmith teaches creative nonfiction, journalism, rhetorical theory and professional writing. Her feature writing has appeared in local and regional publications, including the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Iowa History Journal. She also directs the Coe Writing Center and teaches the staff development course for consultants. She collaborates on writing center research projects with consultants, including a study of the evolution of consultants’ conferencing practices and an inquiry into consultant-alumni career paths. 

When she is not teaching at Coe, Dr. Nesmith enjoys making music, making things with yarn and looking at birds.

Oluwadamilola Opayemi

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

M.S. Central Connecticul State UniversityHeadshot of Oluwadamilola Opayemi
Ph.D. University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
Email: OOpayemi@coe.edu

Dr. Opayemi loves teaching human communication courses. Some of the courses taught include advanced and lower-level interpersonal communication, relational communication, family communication, small group communication, business and professional communication and intercultural communication. 

Dr. Opayemi's research focus is stressful transitions. She is interested in communicative strategies that facilitate support, dyadic/communal coping, uncertainty and (re)constructed identity management. Some of her recent projects include a study on parents' communication and dyadic coping during pregnancy after perinatal loss and menopausal womens' perception of supportive spousal response to distress.

When she is not teaching in the classroom or working on research, she loves spending time with her spouse and children, listening to loud music or watching Kdrama.

Antonio Spikes

Assistant Professor of Communication StudiesHeadshot of Antonio Spikes

B.A., Georgia Southern University
M.A., Ph.D., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale 
Phone: 319.399.8654
Email: ASpikes@coe.edu

Dr. Spikes teaches Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Rhetorical Theory, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication and Persuasion. His primary areas of study are the intersections of race, gender and sexuality. Recently, he has begun relating communication to disability studies and video games. His most recent publication will be a book chapter that features an autoethnography about his experiences being a Black man with type one diabetes. He has also co-authored a book that explores ratchet feminism. His dissertation explored how Black male teachers engage face work practices within the cultural and racial context of the classroom. When he is not teaching classes, he enjoys gardening, playing video games (the Assassins Creed series is his favorite) and cooking soul food dishes.

Emeritus and Retired Faculty

Robert L. Marrs

Armstrong Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus

B.A., Kansas State University
M.A., Ph.D., Washington State University
Email: RMarrs@coe.edu

Susanne Gubanc

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Rhetoric

B.A., University of Illinois-Springfield
M.A., Miami University (Ohio)
M.A., University of York, England

Mary Taylor

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Rhetoric

B.S.N., University of Iowa
J.D., University of Iowa
M.A., University of Iowa