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Rhetoric and Composition

Our Rhetoric and Composition program has been a national leader for well over a decade. In addition to gaining state-of-the-art sophistication in rhetorical history, theory, criticism, and pedagogy, students joining the rhetoric group at Penn State enter a lively intellectual environment in which rhetorical studies, composition studies, technology studies, literary studies, women's studies, African American studies, Latino/a studies, science studies, and cultural studies interanimate one another.

Graduate students will find a strong tradition in rhetorical studies, a large and accomplished rhetoric faculty (not only in English but also in Communication Arts and Sciences) with wide-ranging interests, a chance to collaborate with other faculty, a variety of teaching opportunities, and an optimistic and talented community of fellow graduate students who are actively involved in teaching and research. All faculty members are closely involved in the education of all rhetoric students, who invent rich dissertation topics and become professionally active through conference presentations and publications.

In short, students accepted into the program can look forward to strong support and stimulating studies, personal relationships with faculty and students, and opportunities to benefit from other English Department faculty and rhetorically minded faculty in other departments. 97.5% of our graduates have earned tenure-line appointments upon graduation.

Recent Grad Courses

  • Histories and Historiographies of Rhetoric
  • Cornel West and bell hooks
  • Renaissance Rhetoric
  • Concepts of Literacy
  • African American Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric and Pragmatism
  • Kenneth Burke
  • Introduction to Rhetoric and Composition
  • Feminist Rhetorics
  • Postcritical Perspectives on Literacy Technologies
  • Rhetoric and Technology
  • English Online
  • Technoscience
  • People specializing in this area

    Tenure-Line Faculty

    Suresh Canagarajah

    World Englishes; Multilingual writing; Postcolonial studies

    Cheryl Glenn

    Rhetorical histories, historiography, and theories (ancient to contemporary); composition theory and practice; rhetorical delivery systems (speaking, writing, silence, and listening); feminist and gender theories; feminist historiography, pedagogies, and research methods; medieval and Renaissance literatures

    Debra Hawhee

    histories and theories of rhetoric (ancient and modern), historiography, nonrational rhetorics (e.g., bodily rhetorics, material rhetorics, animals and rhetoric), Aristotle, Kenneth Burke.

    Stuart Selber

    Technical Communication, Computers and Composition, Human-Computer Interaction

    Susan Merrill Squier, Ph.D.

    I publish on the rhetoric of science, medicine, and disability.  My current work on comics and medicine expands the notion of rhetoric to include visual rhetorics.

    Xiaoye You

    multilingual writing, comparative rhetoric, world Englishes