Rhetoric and Composition
Florida State University
405 Williams Building
Tallahassee, Florida

Phone: 850 644 4230
Fax: 850 644 0811


At Florida State University we offer two graduate programs in rhetoric and composition: an M.A. program in Rhetoric and Composition and a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition. In each we focus on rhetorical and social practices and theories of composing and composition, particularly emphasizing the relationships between texts (print, audio, visual, and digital), technologies, and literacies. In addition to offering a repertoire of challenging courses and various connections to the field, the program features a hospitable environment for graduate students.

As members of the graduate program, we—students and faculty—often work on research together. For example, TAs and faculty have presented together at conferences (for example, National Council of Teachers of English); several of us have submitted "combined" panels for CCCC. In addition, a team of graduate students and faculty wrote and were awarded a 2006-2007 CCCC research grant. We gather regularly to "read and eat" at a faculty member's home or a local spot, where we discuss current articles and plan collaborative projects. And all doctoral students enroll each semester in a one-hour reading course, where MA students are welcome as well. Not least, each term we host at least one distinguished scholar in rhetoric and composition who shares with us his or her latest research.


The Reading and Writing Centers will be hosting a variety of activities in celebration of the National Day on Writing on Monday October 21st. They will be present across campus with booths and writing activities that will invite students to participate in the act of writing. Our RWC Director, Dr. Jennifer Wells will be organizing this event. Locations, activities and ways of participating will be available soon.

On September 19th, Michael Neal, Jacob Craig, and Joe Cirio participated in the Digital Literacies Symposium which included participants from Education, Library Science, Rhetoric and Composition. This was the first Digital Literacies Symposium held at FSU and Dr. Donna Alderman from University of Georgia.

Congratulations to Joe Cirio for winning the best poster award at this event. Nicely done!

Dr. Michael Neal was recently nominated for and awarded the Ralph Stair Prize in Innovative Education for his work with the FSU Card Archive (located at http://english3.fsu.edu/mnealomeka/). This was the first year of the Ralph Stair Award for Innovation in Education. He was a professor here in the business school. Congratulations on a job well done!

Michael Neal and Kathi Yancey offered a three-day assessment institute for those students going on the market next year. Students not on the market are currently taking advantage of the opportunity of Michael's special topics class on writing assessment.

This institute was held Monday-Wednesday, May 20-22, 2013This was a very participation oriented institute that engaged the following four sets of topics:

  1. Kinds of Assessments: This focused on what students already know (classroom and teacher assessment) and moved from there to assessments related to the program, accrediting agencies, and how they work.
  2. WPA Outcomes: Here, we discussed what the outcomes are and what they mean as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
  3. Technologies of Assessment: The focus here was key concepts (validity, reliability, fairness, scoring) as well as practices.
  4. Current/Future Issues: We looked forward to current issues in the field--multimodality, portfolios, and human vs. e-rating and factor in how they will impact assessment in the future.

Here are a couple of reactions from students who participated:

Rory Lee: It was awesome. Even though we knew that assessment was important, it was beyond the walls of our individual classrooms so that we could see how assessment functions at the programatic and administrative approach. The breadth was the most important.
Elizabeth Powers: This made me feel much more confident in discussing assessment while going on the job market.

On April 11, the Center for Everyday Writing hosted a day-long conference entitled "Archives with a View: Everyday Writing and What It Can Teach Us." The event included "Postcards and Their Archives: Creating and Curating a Digital Archive" by Dr. Neal, Stephen McElroy and Katie Bridgman; "Vernacular Memorials as Multimodal Compositions: Understanding Collaborative, Communal Compositions of the Everyday" by Leigh Graziano; and reflections on utilizing everyday writing by Dr. Yancey.

Visiting Speakers

April 17, 2014 - Keith D. Miller: is Professor of English at Arizona State University and a former WPA. He is the author of Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Its Sources and, more recently, of Martin Luther King's Biblical Epic: His Great, Final Speech. Published in Rhetoric Review, his essay, "I Have a Dream," won the Theresa Enos Essay of the Year Award in 2007. In addition, the co-edited collection Race and Writing Assessment, winner in 2014 of the CCCC Outstanding Book Award, included his co-authored essay, "Challenging the Frameworks of Color-blind Racism."

March 25, 2014 - Kathleen Blake Yancey: The Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor. Her research focuses on composition studies generally; on writing assessment, especially print and electronic portfolios; and on the intersections of culture, literacy and technologies.Her edited collection, Delivering College Composition: The Fifth Canon, was released recently as well; it received the Best Book Award from the Council of Writing Program Administrators. She is also the editor of College Composition and Communication (CCC), the flagship journal in composition and rhetoric. Her current research includes Writing across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing, co-authored with FSU alums Liane Robertson and Kara Taczak, forthcoming from Utah State University Press in spring 2014.

October 11, 2013 - Donna Strickland: Associate Professor of English and Director of Composition at the University of Missouri. She is the author of The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies, winner of the W. Ross Winterowd Award in 2011, and the co-editor of The Writing Program Interrupted: Making Space for Critical Discourse.

April 11, 2013 - Kristie S. Fleckenstein: Author of two award-winning books and one of FSU's award-winning teachers, Kristie Fleckenstein is Professor of English in the FSU English Department. Next year, she will direct the Graduate Program in Rhetoric and Composition. She has published more than 40 articles and book chapters on subjects that cluster around her research interests of materiality, visual literacy, feminist theory, and composition pedagogy.

She received the 2005 Conference on College Composition and Communication Outstanding Book of the Year Award for her monograph, Embodied Literacies: Imageword and a Poetics of Teaching, and the 2010 W. Ross Winterowd Award for Best Book in Composition Theory for Vision, Rhetoric, and Social Action in the Composition Classroom. Her current project, "A Mighty Power": Nineteenth-Century Photography and the Visual Rhetoric of Racial Identity, explores uses of photography as a visual rhetoric in debates over African American identity between 1839 and 1914.

February 11, 2013 - Dànielle Nicole DeVoss: Professor of Professional Writing at Michigan State University, also directs the program in Digital Humanities. She teaches courses on professional writing, document design, creativity, and innovation.

DeVoss co-edited (with Heidi McKee) Digital Writing Research: Technologies, Methodologies, and Ethical Issues (2007, Hampton Press), which won the 2007 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award. DeVoss also co-edited (with Heidi McKee and Dickie Selfe) Technological Ecologies and Sustainability, the first title to be published by Computers and Composition Digital Press, the only digital press with a university press imprint. And in 2011, she published (with Martine Courant Rife and Shaun Slattery) Copy(write): Intellectual Property in the Composition Classroom (Parlor Press).

She is currently working on three book projects: Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation (with Heidi McKee; Computers and Composition Digital Press); Cultures of Copyright (with Martine Rife); and Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, and Multiliteracies (with Jim Purdy).

November 13, 2012 - Sid Dobrin: is University of Florida Research Foundation Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of English at the University of Florida, where he previously served as Director of Writing Programs in the English Department for ten years. He is the author and editor of many books, including Ecosee: Image, Nature and Visual Rhetoric (SUNY P, 2009 with Sean Morey); Beyond Postprocess (USUP, 2011 with Michael Vastola and J.A. Rice); Ecology, Writing Theory, and New Media: Writing Ecology (2011, Routledge); and most recently, Postcomposition (2011, SIUP), which won the 2011 W. Ross Winterowd Award for best book published in composition theory. He is currently completing two new edited collections: Writing Posthumanism (forthcoming Parlor Press) and Abducting Writing Studies (SIUP with Kyle Jensen). In addition, Sid is finishing a monograph titled Cracks in the Mirror: Image, Technology, and the Nature Effect. In his presentation, Dobrin addresses what it means to be(come) postcomposition. Growing from his most recent book Postcomposition, his talk will consider what a future of one kind of writing studies might look like. To exemplify this postcomposition future (though there can be many), Sid will turn to his more recent work re-envisioning the rhetorical mode of description in light of digital technologies and the posthuman. Ultimately, this talk considers the role of circulation in postcomposition writing studies, suggesting that perhaps circulation should be considered the sixth canon of rhetoric.

February 16, 2012 - Linda Flower: Dr. Linda Flower is a Professor of Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University. Motivated by the need for a more integrated social-cognitive approach to writing, Flower's recent research focuses on how writers construct negotiated meaning in the midst of conflicting internal and social voices. Dr. Flower is the author, editor and co-editor of eight books, including Reading-to-Write: Exploring a Cognitive and Social Process, The Construction of Negotiated Meaning: A Social Cognitive Theory, and Learning to Rival: A Literate Practice for Intercultural Inquiry. In 2009, her Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement won the Rhetorical Society of America's Book Award for work in rhetorical study. In her presentation, "Creating Controversy: A Working Theory of Community Engagement through Local Public Deliberation", Dr. Flower argues that if academics wish to exchange the mantel of "public intellectual" for the role of "community partner," we will need to develop more grounded, working theories of deliberation in local publics and methods to support it. She will argue that community think tanks, organized by students and teachers, might offer a place to test working theories of engagement in the local publics of a community or university.

October 6, 2011 - Jacqueline Jones Royster: Jacqueline Jones Royster is Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, holds the Ivan Allen Jr. Dean's Chair in Liberal Arts and Technology, and is Professor of English in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research centers on rhetorical studies, literacy studies, and women's studies, areas in which she has authored and co-authored numerous articles and book chapters. She is the author of three books: Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1997), Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change among African American Women (2000), and Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003 (2003). In her presentation, "Rhetorical Studies in a Time of Change", Dr. Royster reflects on rhetorical studies and asks: Where are we now? How can we tell? She proposes opportunities for expanding the experiences and performances that serve as a springboard for rhetorical studies as a "modern" enterprise.

February 16, 2011 - Gunther Kress: Gunther Kress is Professor of Semiotics and Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. His interests are in meaning-making and communication in contemporary environments; with an interest in developing a social semiotic theory of multimodal communication. Some (more recent) books are Multimodal Discourse: the modes and media of contemporary communication (2002) with T van Leeuwen; Literacy in the new media age (2003); and Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication (2010). In his presentation, "Writing in the frame of a social semiotic multimodal theory of composition," he will examine some currently important terms, such as composition, design, writing, and will necessarily raise again the essential notion of genre.

September 8, 2010 - Lynée Lewis Gaillet: Lynée Lewis Gaillet is associate professor of rhetoric and composition at Georgia State University. She is past president of the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition and past executive director of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. She is the editor of Scottish Rhetoric and Its Influences (Hermagoras/Erlbaum), coeditor with Michelle Eble of Stories of Mentoring: Theory and Praxis (Parlor Press), and coeditor with Winifred Horner of the second edition of The Present State of Research in the History of Rhetoric (University of Missouri Press). She is author of numerous book chapters and journal articles addressing contemporary writing instruction and the history of rhetoric/writing practices. In her presentation "Everyday Archives", she will discuss the recent commercial and scholarly resurgence in primary research and discuss ways academics can ride that wave in their writing and teaching.

February 11, 2010 - Charles Bazerman: Charles Bazerman is Professor of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Chair of CCCC. He is interested in the social dynamics of writing, rhetorical theory, and the rhetoric of knowledge production and use. He has been active in developing graduate degree objectives in rhetoric, literacy, and communication at UCSB and previously at Georgia Tech. His recently edited Handbook of Research on Writing won the 2009 CCCC Outstanding Book Award. In his presentation, he will discuss how writing studies as an organized field of research is new and dispersed, under the title, "Writing Research: What does it add up to? Where is it heading? What is visibly missing? What is invisible? Who has the eyes to see it?"

October 29, 2009 - Shirley Logan: Shirley Wilson Logan is Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at the University of Maryland, where she teaches courses in composition theory and pedagogy, history of rhetoric, nineteenth century rhetoric, and writing. Professor Logan's current projects include a study of Amanda Berry Smith's religious discourse and further exploration into the literacy practices of black Civil War soldiers and post-Reconstruction African Americans, which was the subject of chapter one of her 2008 book, Liberating Language. In her talk, she will discuss this topic and what future research promises to uncover, under the title, "Free Floating Literacies, Then and Now."

March 30, 2009 - Beverly Moss: Beverly Moss, Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University, focuses both on community literacy, especially in African American communities, and on writing centers. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on composition theory and criticism, literacy theories and practices, qualitative research methodologies and basic writing. Author of several articles addressing composition and pedagogy and African American Rhetoric, she is also the editor of Literacy Across Communities and the co-editor of Writing Groups Inside and Outside the Classroom.

February 16, 2009 - Charles Schuster: Associate Dean for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. While at FSU, he met with nine PhD and MA students on research projects they were currently working on. With an inviting manner and a light sense of humor, Dr. Schuster gave professional feedback on publishing and research questions as well as on drafts. Afterward, Dr. Yancey hosted a pot luck dinner where Dr. Schuster gave a quick talk on the future of publishing in rhetoric and composition and enjoyed socializing with members of the rhet/comp program.

January 12, 2009 - Deborah Brandt: Deborah Brandt, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Wisconsin Madison, researches literacy, specifically social and economic histories of mass literacy, and the status of mass writing within late twentieth and early twenty-first century culture, diversity, equity, and access in literacy learning. At the University of Wisconsin Madison she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy, writing studies, and qualitative research methods. Brandt currently is working on a project following her award-winning volume Literacy in American Lives, entitled Writing Now: New Directions in Mass Literacy, which explores the ascendancy of writing as a second stage of mass literacy.

December 1, 2008 - Donald Leu: Donald J. Leu, the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology at the University of Connecticut, studies reading generally and new literacies more specifically. His current research focuses primarily on new skills, strategies, and instructional tools needed to prepare students for learning to read and write with Internet technologies. At the University of Connecticut, he also directs the New Literacies Research Lab, and he is a past President of the National Reading Conference. With more than 100 research publications and seventeen books, Leus research showcases his dedication both to teaching and to finding ways to bridge new technologies and literacies.



Bret Zawilski is a second-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Composition, a teaching assistant in the Editing, Writing, and Media program, and assistant director of the FSU Digital Studio in the Williams building. Bret's main academic interests revolve around new media composition, multimodality, and the role of material awareness in knowledge transfer. He also is interested in the function of rhetoric in the production of knowledge within the sciences. Outside of the academy, he dabbles in writing science fiction, sketching, and jazz saxophone.

Current Research: "Right now I'm actually in the middle of researching and writing an article on photograph albums, focused on how digital photo platforms have changed the way we interact with images. I'm really interested in a lot of the vernacular processes that surface when looking at albums from the 1920s and 1930s in terms of cutting, collaging, and framing images. With digital platforms like Flickr, Picasa, and 500px, a lot of the organization and arrangement of photos is taken away from individuals and relegated to algorithms in the software. We so often see digital texts as those that challenge linearity and empower the reader, but here it almost seems as though we've increased the linearity of digital albums, often arranging images on a continuum and navigating by means of thumbnails. If you want to focus on an image in a physical album, everything is magnified as you "zoom" in, but in digital spaces, zooming in means that we lose sight of the surrounding context. I guess it interests me because it serves as an example of a space in which physical and digital material literacies interact (and sometimes conflict)."

Currently Reading: "Lately I've been reading a mixture of books for personal research, approaching preliminary exams, and for pleasure. Snapshot Chronicles has been an invaluable source of context for my aforementioned publication project, especially when paired with Susan Sontag's On Photography. I also seem to keep returning to Jody Shipka's Toward a Composition Made Whole in my attempts to grapple with materiality and mediational means. I've also been slowly working my way into Kenneth Burke's A Grammar of Motives. Outside of those, I have a bad habit of fluttering back and forth between other books, such as Collin Brooke's Lingua Fracta, assorted journal articles, and (currently) Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."

Current Insight: "Moving into my second year of Ph.D. coursework, I've found life to be a little less overwhelming as a whole. Initially, I think it's too easy to start looking at life as a series of goals to cross off a list, and I've always had a compulsion to get to the point where my list is blank! Now, in the midst of a developing dissertation idea and a variety of conference, class, and publication projects, I've had to come to terms with the fact that my list will never be empty. I've also found outside interests to be critical in refueling, especially at this midway point of the year when the weather isn't quite so nice and deadlines loom everywhere. There comes a point where you have to step back and enjoy your surroundings before diving back into research. I'm always surprised at the connections that just seem to fall into place, especially when I feel as though my attention has been flung far from the boundaries of composition and rhetoric. But, it's all about achieving some kind of balance between personal and professional responsibilities, something which seems clearer than ever as my own wedding in March rapidly approaches!"