“You feel through your body, you take in the world through your skin.”

I study affects, ambience, and writing and rhetoric in everyday life.

I'm an Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Academic Research

I'm a rhetorical theorist and qualitative researcher studying and practicing creative and novel research methodologies and methods.

Tracing the writing that people do—in all its forms, while using visual research methods—helps me trace how they get things done, how they make meaning from the work they do, and how they share that meaning with others.

My work thus explores human interactions with and through things and everyday environments, and the ways in which our relationships and entanglements in those environments shapes who we were, are, and will be.

Current Projects

In 2017, I'm working on two different book projects—a monograph, and an edited collection. The monograph, Writing, Rhetoric, and Visual Research, explores visual research methods in qualitative studies of writing and rhetorics, focusing on means for studying and conceptualizing the ways in which everyday rhetorics shape and help constitute who we are and what we know.

I also continue to analyze data from ethnographies and qualitative case studies conducted in the last three years, exploring immersive learning, computer science education, and material rhetorics in religious practice.


I offer consulting services in three broad areas: training, organizational communication, and curricula (with an emphasis on humane implementations of instructional technologies).

With 9 years of experience in the financial services industry—including 7 years in compliance and oversight—I understand how business communication works.

I can also help you design curricula that balances practical uses of instructional technologies, theory, and practice while privileging student inquiry at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Recent Publications

If you'd like to read something that I've written, but can't find it on the web or in your library, just drop me an email. I'd be happy to send it over.

9/ 2016

McNely, B. (2016). Circulatory intensities | Take a book, leave a book. In S. Barnet and C. Boyle (Eds.), Rhetoric, Through Everyday Things (139–154).

6/ 2016

Gestwicki, P., & McNely, B. (2016). Interdisciplinary projects in the academic studio. Transactions on Computing Education 16(2), 80–104.

5/ 2015

McNely, B. (2015). Instagram, geocaching, and the when of rhetorical literacies. Kairos 19(3).

3/ 2015

McNely, B. (2015). Taking things seriously with visual research. Communication Design Quarterly 3(2), 48–54.

1/ 2015

McNely, B., Spinuzzi, C., & Teston, C. (2015). Guest Editors' Introduction: Contemporary research methodologies in technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly 24(1), 1–13.

1/ 2015

McNely, B, & Teston, C. (2015). Tactical and strategic: Qualitative approaches to the digital humanities. In J. Ridolfo and W. Hart-Davidson (Eds.), Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities (111–126). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

12/ 2014

McNely, B. (2014). Writing in sacred spaces: Tangible practices for understanding intangible spirituality. College Composition and Communication 66(2), 243–246.

9/ 2014

McNely, B., & Rivers, N. (2014). All of the things: Engaging complex assemblages in communication design. In SIGDOC '14: Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference on Design of Communication. New York: ACM.

8/ 2014

McNely, B. (2014). Knowledge work, knowledge play: A heuristic approach to communication design for hybrid spaces. Communication Design Quarterly 2(4), 14–51.

9 / 2013

McNely, B. (2013). Visual research methods and communication design. In SIGDOC '13: Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference on Design of Communication. New York: ACM.

7 / 2013

McNely, B. (2013). "That light-bulb feeling": An Interview with Clay Spinuzzi. Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society 3(1).

4 / 2013

McNely, B. (2013). Exploring lived experience through ambient research methods. In N. Sappleton (Ed.), Advancing Research Methods with New Technologies (227–242). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

3 / 2013

McNely, B., Gestwicki, P., Gelms, B., & Burke, A. (2013). Spaces and surfaces of invention: A visual ethnography of game development. Enculturation 15.

10 / 2012

McNely, B. (2012). Big data, situated people: Humane approaches to communication design. Communication Design Quarterly 1(1), 27–30.

10 / 2012

McNely, B., Gestwicki, P., Burke, A., & Gelms, B. (2012). Articulating everyday actions: An activity-theoretical approach to Scrum. In SIGDOC '12: Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference on Design of Communication. New York: ACM.

10 / 2012

Hashimov, E., & McNely, B. (2012). Left to their own devices: Ad hoc genres in the design of transmedia narratives. In SIGDOC '12: Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference on Design of Communication. New York: ACM.

10 / 2012

Stewart, J., Baker, N., Chaney, S., Hashimov, E., McNely, B., & Romano, L. (2012). A qualitative metasynthesis of activity theory in SIGDOC Proceedings 2001–2011. In SIGDOC '12: Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference on Design of Communication. New York: ACM.

10 / 2012

McNely, B. (2012). Shaping organizational image-power through images: Case histories of Instagram. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

10 / 2012

Gestwicki, P., & McNely, B. (2012). A case study of a five-step design thinking process in educational museum game design. In Proceedings of the 2012 Meaningful Play Conference. East Lansing, MI.

4 / 2012

McNely, B., Gestwicki, P., Hill, J.H., Parli-Horne, P., & Johnson, E. (2012). Learning analytics for collaborative writing: A prototype and case study. In Proceedings of the 2nd Annual International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge. New York: ACM.

11 / 2011

McNely, B. (2011). Informal communication, sustainability, and the public writing work of organizations. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

8 / 2011

McNely, B. (2011). Sociotechnical notemaking: Short-form to long-form writing practices. Present Tense 2(1).

10 / 2010

McNely, B. (2010). Locus Communis: Twitter as digital commonplace. Journal of the International Digital Media and Arts Association 7(1), 34–43.

10 / 2010

McNely, B., Teston, C., Cox, G., Olorunda, B. & Dunker, N. (2010). Digital publics and participatory education. Digital Culture and Education 2(2), 152–171.

09 / 2010

McNely, B. (2010). Exploring a sustainable and public information ecology. In SIGDOC ‘10: Proceedings of the 28th annual conference on Design of communication. New York: ACM Press.