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Rhetoric & Composition

The study of rhetoric and composition at the University of Georgia provides students with a foundational understanding of rhetorical theory, the history of rhetoric, composition theory and pedagogy, and rhetorical approaches to literary texts. Additionally, students can pursue the study of writing within the emerging field of electronic textuality and its relation to other areas of study, such as humanities computing and literary theory.

Students who select rhetoric and composition as one of their areas of specialization do so with varying purposes: Some students seek to supplement their traditional literary studies with principles of rhetorical analyses; others wish to prepare themselves more fully to teach writing at the secondary or college level; and still others aim to pursue an academic career in rhetoric and composition. We are pleased that our students have done well on the job market, taking tenure?track jobs at institutions such as the University of Mississippi, the University of Carolina at Greensboro, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Institute of Technology, Columbus State University, Millsaps College, Belmont Abbey College, and Kennesaw University.

At present, graduate students in the English Department of the University of Georgia can pursue the study of rhetoric and composition in three ways:

M.A. with a Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition

Students who elect to pursue the M.A. with a concentration in rhetoric and composition complete - in addition to the other requirements for the degree - three courses from the area (such as the history of rhetoric, composition theory and pedagogy, rhetoric and literature, and current topics in rhetoric). Additionally, students complete an appropriate capstone project, such as a thesis. The topics of recent M.A. theses have ranged from a study of rhetoric and the law in The Merchant of Venice, a examination of rhetorical theory and the novels of Tim O'Brien, to a rhetorical analysis of pharmaceutical advertising. The M.A. with a concentration in rhetoric and composition should be of interest to students who wish to teach at the secondary or college level after obtaining the M.A. or who wish to pursue doctoral studies in rhetoric.

Ph.D. Specialization in Rhetoric

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in English at UGA are required to select and to be examined on three areas of specialization. Those students desiring to specialize in rhetoric and composition, in addition to other program requirements, complete courses offered in the area, including the history of rhetoric, composition theory and pedagogy, rhetoric and literature, and specially offered seminars in current rhetorical theory, such as issues in the historiography of the history of rhetoric; antifoundationalism and rhetorical theory; Burke, Booth, Bakhtin, and literary analysis; markup technologies and the rhetorical canons; rhetoric, law, and literature. Additionally, the Ph.D. student constructs - in consultation with his/her major professor - a reading list for the comprehensive exam. The reading list will include standard texts in the history of rhetoric and in rhetoric and composition, but it may be shaped to reflect the student's other interests and projected dissertation topic. For instance, past students have combined an interest in historical rhetoric and medieval studies, rhetoric and composition and creativity theory, rhetoric and African-American literature, feminism and composition, rhetoric and the New Journalism, composition and creative writing, rhetoric and composition and the essay as a genre, rhetoric and composition and Romanticism, rhetoric and the twentieth-century novel, rhetoric and scientific writing, and rhetoric and electronic textuality.

Support and Teaching Opportunities

Students specializing in rhetoric and composition, like all students in the Department of English, are eligible for Graduate Research Assistantships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships. Students with Teaching Assistantships teach in the First-year Composition Program. Advanced students can serve as support TAs for large lecture sections of sophomore literature as well as for the "gateway" undergraduate course, "Introduction to English Studies," and then as teacher of record for smaller sections of the sophomore courses. Teaching Assistants may also have an opportunity to teach on-line sections of composition, to serve as computer-support TAs as well as to develop experimental versions of first-year composition. Advanced students may also serve as tutors in the UGA Writing Center. At times, advanced students with background in rhetoric have taught the upper-division writing courses: technical writing, advanced composition, and writing for the world wide web.


Emeritus Faculty
Senior Lecturer
Senior Academic Professional
Associate Professor
Director of the Writing Intensive Program
Senior Lecturer
Associate Professor
Senior Lecturer
Principal Lecturer

Research Spotlight

This area of interest examines theories of form and genre, considering the complex histories of literary forms such as the essay, novel, and lyric, as well as the equally complex histories of theorizing those forms. This area considers forms and genres, not as fixed categories, but as ever…

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