Assistant Professor of Writing
Maryland Hall 043B
As a rhetorician, I take a decidedly rhetorical approach to the teaching of writing. Two of the longest-standing concerns of rhetoric are disagreement and language form. In my writing classes, you will consider how and why people disagree and learn how to analyze and manipulate the root of disagreements. You will also learn how various language choices are ultimately means of constructing arguments. Our work together will be grounded in rhetorical theory, largely that devised by the ancient Greeks and Romans, however I draw widely from the rhetorical tradition as it has evolved in multiple cultural contexts over the ages.
In my classes, we will work with language, both as analysts and producers, in a variety of media and genres. You will collaborate with each other to support your learning in addition to receiving feedback and guidance from me. Students learn the most when they take ownership of their own learning, and my classes run best when everyone is an active and engaged, contributing participant. You will examine models and practice what you see and read about a lot. Through my classes you will become a better writer because you will come to see how even the subtlest rhetorical move can have a significant impact on an audience—and you will learn how to make those moves yourself.
As a scholar, my research interests include the history of rhetoric, rhetorical theory, religious discourse, and the integration of language science with rhetorical theory. My current book project presents a method that will aid scholars in analyzing how people argue over textual meaning in a variety of spheres, including religion, politics, history, literary criticism, and law. This project involves recovering a neglected part of stasis theory and adapting the theory for contemporary analytical and pedagogical use with insights from modern rhetorical theory and language science. I am also working on an article that uses this method to analyze a controversy among evangelical Christians over whether the popular book The Prayer of Jabez, which advocates repeating the words of an obscure biblical prayer from 1 Chronicles, teaches believers to pray or practice a kind of magic.
Most recently, an article I co-authored, “Starting the Conversation: An Exploratory Study of Factors That Influence Student Office Hour Use,” was published in College Teaching. My article “The Stylistic Virtues of Clarity and Obscurity in Augustine of Hippo’s De doctrina Christiana,” which examines the early Christian father’s unique approach to style in contrast to his Greco-Roman predecessors and contemporaries, appears in a recent volume of Advances in the History of Rhetoric.
For more information about my teaching, research, and other professional activities, see my CV in PDF.