Rhetoric & Composition

The PhD track in rhetoric and composition prepares students for research and teaching careers, writing center and student support positions, and nonacademic careers. Specialty areas of study in the program include composition pedagogy, theory, and history; rhetorical theory (feminist, affective, materialist); visual rhetorics; research methods; writing program administration; education policy & higher education administration; and writing across the curriculum. Our location in the English Department creates dynamic opportunities for complementing the rhetoric and composition program with study of professional writing, critical theory, creative writing, and/or literary studies. Our aim is to prepare professionals to work in academic environments that encompass diverse understandings of teaching and research as well as nonacademic contexts where research, teaching, and administrative skills are highly valued.

More specific goals of the track are as follows:

  • To offer students excellent pedagogical training that represents
       traditional approaches to teaching writing as well as innovative, newly
       emerging approaches.
  • To provide students with opportunities to attend conferences and other professional venues as well as to take leadership roles in the department.
  • To emphasize the importance of rhetoric and rhetorical theory to the making of   
       knowledge in rhetoric and composition.
  • To expose students to a broad range of theoretical models, methodological strategies, and
       writing practices.
  • To provide opportunities for involvement in writing program administration
       and other program-building experiences.
  • To support students through attentive mentoring so as to professionalize
       and ready them for the job market.

See the links to the right for faculty profiles and more information on qualifying exams and dissertations.

Professional Development Opportunities

Each year we appoint a Pedagogy and Outreach Coordinator, Special Projects/Assessment Coordinator, and English Composition Program Mentors. These positions enable graduate students to participate in new GA orientation; curriculum development and assessment; professional development events; mentoring; and a set of other activities related to program-building. This team of students also organizes a Spring event, in consultation with the Directors, that has relevance to writing studies in specific and general ways. The first such event was a graduate student conference entitled "Composing Ourselves." Materials from previous conferences are accessible from this link.

The Rhetoric and Composition Research Colloquium is an ongoing forum, offered once or twice a term, during which a graduate student or faculty member discusses research in progress. This is a great opportunity for feedback and brainstorming with peers and mentors.

The department provides a range of teaching opportunities to PhD students after their first year in the program. Course assignments range from first- and second-year composition courses to those focused on literature, creative writing, and digital composing.

We are also proud to note that UC offers excellent travel and research funding opportunities through the Taft Research Center, the University Research Council, and the Graduate Student Government. In addition to supporting research activities, these funding sources may also support attendance at relevant institutes or workshops, many of which offer graduate credit (see these useful links for a sampling of opportunities).

Russel K. Durst Distinguished Lecture Series in Rhetoric & Composition

Named for long-time and much-beloved Rhetoric & Composition faculty member in the English department, Professor Russel Durst, this lecture series invites renowned scholars and practitioners in the field to present their work and conduct workshops for the UC community. Honoring Professor Durst's broad interest in field-defining conversations, this lecture series features those who work at the intersection of theory, pedagogy, and history. Recent lecturers have included James Chase Sanchez, Kate Vieira, Carmen Kynard, Eileen Schell, Adam Banks, Jay Dolmage, Mara Holt, Jody Shipka, Joseph Harris, Elizabeth Wardle, John Duffy, Eli Goldblatt, Kathy Yancey, and Nancy Sommers.


Please direct questions about the Rhetoric and Composition program to Professor Laura Micciche.