New Instructor Spotlight

The Program in Professional Writing has recommitted to fostering the development of our instructors, including providing new pedagogical opportunities for and assisting in meeting professional goals. We want the program to provide opportunities for growth and innovation as we explore new ways to meet student needs. As a result, we’d like to spotlight instructors who are newer to the program and embody this spirit of growth and innovation.


Kate Norcross from chest up, in profile, sitting in front of a gray background.

At Illinois, Kate Norcross has taught courses as diverse as the history of the English language, technical writing, and the Middle Ages in pop culture. She draws on her interests in empathy studies and cognitive linguistics to help students recognize the role of emotion and imagination in reading and writing. In 2021 she collaborated with the BTW program on a research grant studying emotion in business writing. As a PhD student at Illinois, she received the Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2019. Her research interests also include the history of emotions and early medieval England. Her article “Counter-Empathy and Elegiac Critique in the Old English Christ and Satan” appeared in Philological Quarterly in 2017. She presented at the Modern Language Association conference in 2020 on “Bodily Experience in Old English Homilies,” and has articles in progress on traumatic empathy in Beowulf and the literary history of the golden rule in early medieval England.

Daniel Roche from chest up, standing in front of a leaf-covered trellis.

Dan Roche teaches technical writing, game development, and creative writing at the University of Illinois. He relies on his experience in business, theater, and working overseas to help his students understand the importance of clear communication in professional environments.  He is honored to have received the Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2020.  When it comes to his creative work, his unconventional background in business and the arts has led to unconventional projects. He recently programmed, designed, and launched a PC game entitled, “Adventures in Morality,” which debuted at the Electronic Literature Organization conference in July 2020. His 30-minute pilot script, “Rennies,” recently won Best Comedic Teleplay at the Oregon Short Film Festival (2021), and his 60-minute sci-fi drama, “Nature>Nurture,” is currently an Official Selection at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival (2021) in Los Angeles.