Riki Thompson, Ph.D.

Empowering people to find connection & belonging through communication literacy


Side view of Riki smiling

Dr. Riki Thompson

Researcher | Consultant | Associate Professor

I am a consultant and Associate Professor of Writing Studies & Digital Rhetoric at the University of Washington Tacoma.  

My research and teaching reflect an interest in the dynamic nature of language, visual imagery, and technology. I am particularly interested in how people negotiate digital spaces to connect with (and exclude) others.

My research about online dating has been featured in The Conversation, Salon, Vox, Boise State Public Radio, and the podcast Learning More. You can find my scholarly research in Visual CommunicationNarrative Inquiry, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and The Routledge Handbook of English Language and Digital Humanities.

Reach out to me for:
  • Interviews
  • Workshops
  • Public speaking
  • One on one consultations


June 1, 2021. Pandemic Dating & Online Dating. Learning More Podcas

April 9, 2021. A giant bed for three, finding lovers on Gumtree and foursomes: I love my polyamorous lifestyle. Irish Sun Times

February 21, 2021. Polyamorous relationships under severe strain during the pandemic. Salon

February 11, 2021. Polyamorous relationships under severe strain during the pandemic. The Conversation

November 6, 2020. Love, delayedVox

August 13, 2020. Exploring How Covid-19 Shifts Our RelationshipsKeeping it Real Webinar 

June 3, 2020. Survival Dating. Paw’d Defiance Podcast

May 14, 2020. He’s Just Not That Into Zoom: Dating In Boise During COVID-19. Boise State Public Radio News

January 25, 2020. The cost of social media: Mental health is worth more than followers and likes. The Western Front

September, 2018. Using Veedback in the Classroom.#innovativeprofs @TopHat

November 22, 2017. Fostering divergent opinions and encouraging free speech on campus. Talk Radio KVI 570

November 10, 2017. College campuses are vital for critical conversations. Seattle Times


My talks and workshops draw on the latest research about digital communication, language and power, online dating, representing the self online, and teaching in digital environments.

You can expect to learn about timely concerns related to communicating and connecting in the digital world and get helpful tips for navigating different environments on topics such as these:

  • Searching & Swiping to Find Connection in the Digital Age
  • Selling the Selfie in the Online Dating Marketplace
  • Online Dating for the Non-Monogamous
  • From Plenty of Fish to Survival Dating in the Pandemic
  • Social Media & Mental Health
  • Strategies for Healing through Digital Communication
  • Improving Student Learning through Digital Feedback
  • Cultivating Belonging in Online Classrooms & Communities

Talks and workshops are customized and can be either virtual or in person.  

Riki facilitating Drinks & Dialogue Workshop. Seattle 2018

Upcoming Events

The politics of matching, messaging, & making the first move in online dating

December 14, 2021, 6:30-7:30 PM
Grit City Think and Drink
Join us on Zoom at https://washington.zoom.us/j/97247855185  

public speaking

December 14, 2021. The politics of women making the first move on Bumble: Online dating, gender norms, and managing women through online talk. Grit City Think and Drink Series, Tacoma WA.

October 11, 2021. Gender & Sexual Normativity, (Dis)Empowerment, and the Digital Dating Paradigm. Scholarly Selections Series, Washington History Museum, Tacoma, WA. WATCH ONLINE HERE

August 11, 2021. Dating in the digital age across the generations. Franke Tobey Jones Educational Series. Tacoma, WA.

January 27, 2021. Connecting digitally: Using social media to connect during the pandemic. Franke Tobey Jones Educational Series, Tacoma, WA.

May 21, 2020. Researching the quest for love, lust, and connection during the time of COVID-19. SIAS Brown Bag Speaker Series, Tacoma, WA.

May 25, 2019.  The Constructed Self of Online Dating. Washington State Library Series at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, Gig Harbor, WA.

December 7, 2018. Dating in the Digital Age: Swiping, Liking, and Selling the Selfie. Grit City Think and Drink Series, Tacoma WA.

February 28, 2018. Championing Critical Conversations about College, Culture Goal: Lightening Talk, UW Tacoma, WA

Changing culture by communicating during divisive times

February 1, 2018.  Drinks & Dialogue: Bridging the Divide. UW Impact: Common Ground Series, Seattle, WA.

July 8, 2019: Steilly Con. Workshop Facilitator, Making Mini Comics. Steilacoom School District, WA

Ready to teach kids to make mini-comics in my super hero outfit for Steily-Con 2019

academic presentations

Thompson, R. (2021). Dating in the Digital Age: Searching, Swiping, & Selling the Selfie. Sociolinguistics Symposium 23. 2020 School of English at the University of Hong Kong. conference rescheduled due to COVID. June 7-10, Hong Kong, China

Thompson, R. (2018). Telling the story of me & we: Online dating and identity construction for the non-monogamous, CADAAD-Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines International Conference, Aalborg University, July 4-6, Aalborg, Denmark.

Thompson, R. and Collins, M. (2018). From the medieval to the digital, and back again: Multimodality, innovation, and adaptation, CADAAD-Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines International Conference, Aalborg University, July 4-6, Aalborg, Denmark.

Thompson, R. (2018). Telling the story of me & we: Online dating and identity construction for the non-monogamous, PCA/ACA – Popular Culture Association · American Culture Association, March 28-31, Indianapolis, IN.

Louie, B, Thompson, R., Rios, J., and Zhu, M. (2017). Transformation of Interdisciplinary Teacher Educators: Collaborating to Develop Online Teacher Training for the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, AERA – American Educational Research Association, April 13-16, Chicago, IL.

Thompson, R. (2014). Looking for acceptance: Negotiating online community through selfie-bios,
Social Media & Society Conference, Ryerson University, September 27-28, Toronto, Canada.

Thompson, R. (2012). What not to wear: Governing women through fashion, CADAAD – Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines International Conference, University of Minho, July 4-6, Braga, Portugal.

Thompson, R. (2010). Considering the digi: Questions the writing class faces in the Digital Age, Oregon Rhetoric & Composition Conference, Portland State University, May 10-12, Portland, OR.

Thompson, R. (2009). Virtually thinking out loud in the electronic classroom:  Metacognition and issues of audience, frequency, and medium for reflection, CCCC- Conference on College Composition & Communication, March 25, New Orleans, LA.

Thompson, R. (2008). The good, the bad, & the ugly of writing in the web 2.0 world: Negotiating writing & technology in the digital age, Thomas R. Watson Conference- The New Work of Composing, University of Louisville, October 16-18. Louisville, KY.

Thompson, R. (2008). Responding to the online journal interest form: Screwed up, but working on it, Rhetoric Society of America, May 23-26, Seattle, WA.

Thompson, R. (2008). (Re)Gendering depression as a problem for “Real Men”: Narrative & governing mental health through public service announcements, GURT – Georgetown Linguistics Department Conference on Narrative, March 29-31, Georgetown, DC.

Thompson, R. (2007). Picking up the thread: Answering the call to converse on mental health forums, NZDC –  New Zealand International Discourse Conference, The University of Auckland, December 6-9, Auckland, NZ.

Thompson, R. (2005). Resisting traditional self-help: Discursive constructions of (un)wellness & healing online, Western States Rhetoric & Literacy Conference, October 10-12, San Francisco, CA.

Thompson, R. (2004). Personal names & transnationalism: Identity construction in the lives of Korean-Americans, AAAL – American Association for Applied Linguistics, May 1-4, Portland, OR.

Thompson, R. (2002). Genre analysis in the “extracurriculum”: The healing journal as the site of genre evolution in discourse community, Western States Composition Conference, University of Washington, October 24-26, Seattle, WA.


Upcoming events

Oct 21, 2021Scholarly Selections at WA State History Museum

Gender & Sexual Normativity, (Dis)Empowerment, and the Digital Dating Paradigm

December 14, 2021Grit City Think and Drink

The politics of matching, messaging, & making the first move in online dating

Creating Connection through communication

I am a recognized academic and public scholar dedicated to educating people about improving their communication strategies and digital literacies so they are empowered to find connection and belonging in the worlds they wish to inhabit.

Public Speaking
One-On-One Consultations

Talks and workshops are customized and can be either virtual or in person.  

Contact me for a free consultation


exploring language, literacy, storytelling, social media, technology & transformation.

Scholarly Work

Thompson, R. (In press). More than the selfie: online dating, non-monogamy, normativity, and linked profiles on OkCupid.  Journal of Language and Sexuality.

Thompson, R. (In press). “Reflective Research.” In C. Vasquez (Ed.), Research Methods for Digital Discourse Analysis, Bloomsbury Press.

Thompson, R. (2021). Using Social Media as a Source of Data and Community Building. Doing Qualitative Research in a Digital World, edited by Trena M. Paulus and Jessica Nina Lester, 1st edition, SAGE Publications, Inc.

Thompson, R. (2020). English Language and Multimodal Narrative. In S. Adolphs & D. Knight (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of English Language and Digital Humanities. Routledge.

Thompson, R., & Collins, M. (2020). Disruptive practice: Multimodality, innovation and standardisation from the medieval to the digital text. In C. Tagg & M. Evans (Eds.), Message and medium: English Language Practices Across Old and New Media (pp. 281–305). De Gruyter Mouton.

Thompson, R. & McIlnay, M. (2019) Nobody Wants to Read Anymore! Using a Multimodal Approach to Make Literature Engaging. CLELE Journal, 7 (1).

Thompson, R. & Furman, R., (2018) From Mass to Social Media: Governing Mental Health in the Digital Age. Sinchronia. 22(73). 398-429.

Thompson, R. (2017). Writing through Comics. In A. Burger (Ed.), Teaching Graphic Novels in the English Classroom: Pedagogical Possibilities of Multimodal Literacy Engagement. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thompson, R. (2012). Screwed up, but working on it: (Dis)ordering the self through e-stories. Narrative Inquiry. 22(1), 86-104.

Thompson, R. (2012). Looking healthy: Visualizing disorder & wellness online. Visual Communication. 11(4). 395-420.

Thompson, R., Furman, R., Enterline, M., & Sharfi, N. (2012). Poetry, masculinities & disability. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 25(3). 105-114.

Furman, R., Enterline, M., Thompson, R., & Shukraft, A. (2012) Poetry matters: A case study for poetry in social work. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory & Practice 21(1), 5-17.

Thompson, R. & Lee, M. (2012) Talking with students through screencasting: Experimentations with video feedback to improve student learning. Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy 1(1).

Thompson, R. (2006). Bilingual, bicultural & binominal identities: Personal name investment, (bi)cultural identity negotiation & the imagination in the lives of first generation Korean-Americans. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 5(3), 179-208.

Thompson, R. (2004). Trauma & the rhetoric of recovery: A discourse analysis of virtual healing journals of child sexual abuse survivors. JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory- Special Issue, Part 2: Trauma & Rhetoric, 24(3), 653-677.

Sociolinguistic Symposium 2021

Interviews & Podcasts

Cattanach, R. (2021). Pandemic Dating & Online Pandemic. Retrieved June 1, 2021, from

Segran, E. (2020, November 6). Love, delayed. Vox.

Jackson, L. T. H. (2020, August 13). Exploring How Covid-19 Shifts Our Relationships [Webinar]. In Keeping it Real.

Goodwin, T. (2020, May 14). He’s Just Not That Into Zoom: Dating In Boise During COVID-19. In Boise State Public Radio News. Boise State Public Radio.

Interview with John Carlson. (2017, November 22). Fostering divergent opinions and encouraging free speech on campus. [Talk Radio KVI 570].

Articles & Blogs

Polyamorous Relationships under Severe Strain during the Pandemic.” The Conversation. Feb 11, 2021,

Online dating and the politics of sharing explicit pics. Medium. April 11, 2020

Pandemic dating, humor, and selling the selfie in the online market. Medium. April 23, 2020

Pandemic Dating Practices & COVID-19. Medium. May 14, 2020.

From Plenty of Fish to Survival Dating. Medium. May 29, 2020

What pandemic dating can teach us about connecting during the time of Corona. Medium. Aug 11, 2020

College campuses are vital for critical conversations. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from . Nov 10, 2017

Creative work

Thompson, Riki. (2017, October 27). Along the Way: A Digital Travelogue. Story Center.

Childhaven. (2014, August 29). Have You Met Olivia?

This spunky kindergartener is a lot like other kids, and her time at Childhaven is the reason why. Cartoon artist Riki Thomson teams up with Childhaven to share her inspiring story of hope in a completely new way.


Get in touch

If you would like to inquire about having me speak at your event, have a question about my services, or just want to get in touch, send me a message. 

I look forward to hearing from you! 

Riki Thompson, Ph.D.

University of Washington Tacoma

Interdisciplinary Arts & Science