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John “Jack” Selzer

John “Jack” Selzer

Paterno Family Liberal Arts Professor Emeritus of Literature
216 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

John "Jack" Selzer

Spring 2024 Office Hours

By appointment: send an email to

Curriculum Vitae


B.A., Economics, Xavier University, 1970
M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1978) in English, Miami University

Professional Bio

Jack Selzer recently completed a term as President of the Rhetoric Society of America. Since joining the faculty at Penn State in 1978, he has taught many courses in composition, technical writing, and rhetoric; has served as Director of Composition, as Director of Graduate Studies, as president of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, and as associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies; and with his colleagues has been involved in creating and sustaining Penn State's respected graduate emphasis in rhetoric and composition. An expert on the work of writer, critic, and theorist Kenneth Burke and recognized for excellence in scholarship by ATTW and RSA, he is also the author or coauthor or editor or coeditor of many books, including "Understanding Scientific Prose" (1994), "Kenneth Burke in Greenwich Village" (1997), "Rhetorical Bodies" (1999), "Kenneth Burke in the 1930s" (2007), and "1977: The Cultural Year in Composition" (2008). His coedited edition of Burke's "The War of Words" will be published by Cal in 2018. With Lester Faigley he has produced several editions of the textbooks "Good Reasons" and "Good Reasons with Contemporary Arguments," and he has collaborated with Dominic Delli Carpini on "Conversations: Readings for Writing." In addition to doing archival research toward a third book on Kenneth Burke, he is currently studying the rhetoric of the civil rights movement, with the encouragement and assistance of his colleague Keith Gilyard.

Areas of Specialization