Stuart A. Selber
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building
Fall 2023 Office HoursBy appointment, in Zoom: psu.zoom.us/my/selber
Stuart A. Selber is a researcher and teacher in the overlapping fields of technical communication, computers and composition, and human-computer interaction. Combining the most productive aspects of humanist critical traditions and social science methods, Selber studies the applications and implications of digital technologies for writing and communication. He is especially interested in the social dimensions of literacies and in heuristics for conceptualizing instructional and institutional contexts.
Selber is a past president and fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), a past president of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), a past chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Committee on Technical Communication, and a past chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (SIGDOC) Conference. He was instrumental in helping to establish the CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication and the ATTW Book Series in Technical and Professional Communication.
As a professor in the Department of English at Penn State, Selber works as director of digital education and director of the Penn State Digital English Studio. In these interrelated capacities, he designs sociotechnical infrastructures to support the digital endeavors of both individuals and academic programs. Selber also oversees instructors who are earning a certificate in teaching with technology, oversees instructors who are teaching technical writing for the first time, advises students who are minoring in technical writing, and offers a senior seminar for students who are concentrating in professional and media writing.
Selber also works as director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, which sees around 19,000 students per calendar year in two general education writing courses: first-year writing and writing in the disciplines.
His efforts in and for the classroom have garnered prominent teaching and service awards:
- In 2021, the Society for Technical Communication presented Selber with the Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication. The award was for “the ability to carve out an intellectual space about pedagogy, introduce novel ideas at every level of the curriculum, and build frameworks that cross over from academic to organizational and industry settings.”
- In 2021, Penn State recognized the contributions of his pedagogical efforts with the Teaching and Learning with Technology Impact Award. This system-wide award celebrates “the accomplishments of Penn State faculty members whose work transforms education through the innovative use of technology.”
- In 2018, he received the Ronald S. Blicq Award for Distinction in Technical Communication Education from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Professional Communication Society. The Blicq Award honors “innovative educators who have influenced the ways that technical communication is taught in pre-college settings, in undergraduate and graduate university degree programs, and in professional life through workshops and seminars.”
- In 2013, the large-scale program that Selber directed from 2006-2012 received a CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence. To win the award, a program must demonstrate best practices in writing instruction, offer exemplary professional development, employ effective assessment practices, address diversity issues, treat contingent faculty professionally, and more.
- In 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication. The award was for “many significant contributions to the field—in scholarship, curriculum and program development, assessment, and working to increase ties between academia and industry—as well as your contributions to CPTSC, including your broad generosity in sharing your work and insights and always moving forward to improve the field.”
Outside of his home department, Selber works as a faculty fellow in the Teaching and Learning with Technology unit and as an affiliate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. In 2016, he was a faculty fellow in the Center for Humanities and Information. In 2007, he chaired the 20th Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, which focused on rhetorics and technologies. Eleven of the conference abstracts were developed into a volume for the Studies in Rhetoric and Communication series at the University of South Carolina Press.
Selber has also received several national awards for outstanding research:
- In 2022, his single-authored book Institutional Literacies: Engaging Academic IT Contexts for Writing and Communication (University of Chicago Press) won the Distinguished Book Award from Computers and Composition.
- In 2018, he received the Ken Rainey Award for Distinguished Research from the Society for Technical Communication. The award was for "a lifetime of quality research that has made significant contributions to the field of technical communication."
- In 2014, his co-edited volume Solving Problems in Technical Communication (University of Chicago Press) won the award for Best Original Collection of Essays in Technical or Scientific Communication from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).
- In 2010, his article "A Rhetoric of Electronic Instruction Sets" won the Nell Ann Pickett Award for Best Article in Technical Communication Quarterly.
- In 2005, his single-authored book Multiliteracies for a Digital Age (Southern Illinois University Press) won the Distinguished Book Award from Computers and Composition.
- In 2005, Multiliteracies for a Digital Age also won the award for Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
- In 2005, his co-edited volume Central Works in Technical Communication (Oxford University Press) won the award for Best Collection of Essays in Technical or Scientific Communication from NCTE.
- In 1998, his edited volume Computers and Technical Communication: Pedagogical and Programmatic Perspectives (Ablex/ATTW) won the award for Best Collection of Essays in Technical or Scientific Communication from NCTE.
- In 1997, his co-authored article "Policing Ourselves: Defining the Boundaries of Appropriate Discussion in Online Forums" won the Ellen Nold Award for Best Article in Computers and Composition.
- In 1995, his article "Beyond Skill Building: Challenges Facing Technical Communication Teachers in the Computer Age" won the award for Best Article on Methods of Teaching Technical or Scientific Communication from NCTE.
Selber has delivered lectures or workshops at the University of New Hampshire, University of Denver, Michigan State University, Fordham Graduate School, Texas A&M University, University of Maryland, Purdue University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Miami University, DePaul University, Bucknell University, University of Wyoming, James Madison University, North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech, Apple Computer in Cupertino, CA, and numerous other places.
In non-academic settings, Selber has worked as a technical communicator or consultant for the DuPont Company in Wilmington, DE, documenting toxicology software; Lotus Development Corporation in Cambridge, MA, documenting financial software; Beyond Incorporated in Cambridge, MA, documenting email software; Enstrom Helicopter Corporation in Menominee, MI, developing proposals; Micron Technology in Boise, ID, developing job descriptions for writers; Transition Systems in Boston, MA, documenting hospital administration software; West One Bancorp in Boise, ID, training writers to produce online documentation; Editorial Services of New England in Cambridge, MA, reviewing the content of technical books; and the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, building document databases.