Director of Graduate Studies

Photo: Michelle Hall Kells

Director of Graduate Studies

Associate Professor


Dr. Michelle Hall Kells is Associate Professor in Rhetoric and Writing at the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies where she serves as the Director of Graduate Studies.  Kells teaches courses in Chicana/o civil rights and environmental justice as well as ethnolinguistic diversity and language equality education. Kells coordinated the Writing Across Communities initiative at the University of New Mexico 2004-2014 promoting linguistic diversity in literacy education across academic, civic, and professional communities, available at:  She currently serves as the Translingual Literacy Studies Coordinator at the University of New Mexico, available at:  

Kells served as the principle investigator for the grant supported research study Salt of the Earth Recovery Project in 2018-2020 examining Cold War labor organization of Local 890 in Grant County, New Mexico available at:

Kells was the principal investigator for the 2020-2021 for Center for Regional Studies grant-supported research study on environmental impacts of COVID-19 and climate change in New Mexico in collaboration with Levi Romero (New Mexico State Poet Laureate 2020-2022). Mi Cultura Cura/Healing through Culture: Testimonios de la Nueva México applies an ethno-poetic perspective to examining the public health and environmental impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on New Mexico communities, available at:

Kells has published more than thirty articles and chapters focusing on rhetoric and ecology, transcultural literacy, and Cold War Mexican American civil rights activism. Kells’ two single author monographs include Héctor P. García: Everyday Rhetoric and Mexican American Civil Rights (2006) and Vicente Ximenes, LBJ’s Great Society, and Mexican American Civil Rights Rhetoric (2018). Her collaborative publications include a co-edited volume with Laura Gonzales, Latina Leadership: Language and Literacy Education Across Communities (2022). Kells was lead editor for Latino/a Discourses: On Language, Identity, and Literacy Education with Valerie Balester and Victor Villanueva (2004) and Attending to the Margin: Writing, Researching and Teaching on the Front Lines (1999).   Kells is currently working on a new monograph, Rhetoric of Embodiment: Mujerista Activism, Environmental Imagination, and the Mining of the Salt of the Earth.