Rhetoric & Composition

Rhetoric and Composition Focus

The PhD track in rhetoric and composition prepares students for research and teaching careers. Specialty areas of study in the program include composition pedagogy, theory, and history, rhetorical theory (classical, contemporary, and cultural rhetorics), new media studies, research methods, public writing, and writing program administration. 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 and applications of English Studies.

More specific goals of the track are as follows:

  • To equip students with theoretical, historical, and practical knowledge   
       necessary to secure academic jobs in rhetoric and composition.
  • 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 for and support of multimodal and
       digital composing practices
  • To emphasize the importance of rhetoric and rhetorical theory to the making of   
       knowledge in rhetoric and composition.
  • To expose students to theoretical models, methodological strategies, and
       writing practices relevant to the work of English Studies.
  • 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 an Assistant to the Composition Directors and  graduate Mentors. These positions enable graduate students to participate in new GA orientation; curriculum development and assessment; and a whole 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 pedagogy and/or theory. The first such event was a graduate student conference entitled "Composing Ourselves." Students also have the opportunity to serve as Editorial Assistants for Composition Studies, the oldest independent journal in the field, currently hosted here at UC.

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 Governance Association. 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).


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