Graduate work in Composition and Rhetoric at UNL prepares teacher-scholars as active contributors to their school, disciplinary, and community settings. We provide students a rich understanding of both historical and contemporary questions, issues, and ideals that shape the field of Composition and Rhetoric. From this exploration, we offer students support and guidance in determining their own lines of scholarly inquiry and pedagogical commitments, which, in turn, contribute to the field’s knowledge.
UNL's Composition and Rhetoric program identifies the graduate seminar classroom as one among many sites of important scholarly work. Equally important are the many ways teacher-scholars collaborate on research projects, teaching and curriculum design, program administration and development, and outreach to the communities surrounding UNL.
Core Areas of Inquiry
Our rhetoric seminars examine the relationship among language, culture, identity and agency. Through both historical and contemporary inquiry, we consider how rhetoric shapes public discourse, social conventions and norms, and expectations for writers.
We also examine rhetoric as a tool for social action, looking at how rhetors who represent diverse perspectives and positions discover and employ the “available means of persuasion,” so as to speak back to and revise cultural norms and practices.
Literacy Theory and Practice
Literacy seminars examine how practices and processes of reading and writing—as well as assumptions about what “being literate” entails—are shaped by social, cultural, political and economic contexts. These courses may consider issues of:
- literacy acquisition
- the variance of literacy practices across cultures
- the influence of digital media on literacy practices
- linkages between literacies and identities
- contemporary and historical debates over literacy instruction
Composition Theory and Practice
Composition seminars invite students to explore historical and contemporary approaches to writing instruction, considering how composition theory converses with changing institutional and cultural exigencies, assumptions about teachers and students of writing, and understandings of the purpose of writing instruction.
Our program’s strong K-16 emphasis invites regular dialogue between K-12 and university teachers of writing.
Socially Committed Pedagogies
Our program is committed to teaching as an intellectual enterprise, worthy of study and reflection. We focus especially on pedagogies committed to expansive and critically-oriented processes of learning, including queer, feminist, place conscious and critical pedagogies. In addition to coursework that examines the cultural and political implications of pedagogical theories and practices, we provide many outlets for pedagogical development, including mentorship of new TAs, writing center consulting, composition colloquia, and work with the Nebraska Writing Project.
Graduate Course OfferingsTypically, doctoral students in rhetoric and composition design individual programs of study that draw on a full range of courses in English. Although there are no core or required courses at the Ph.D. level, the English department regularly offers a number of graduate courses in the area of composition and rhetoric, including:
- Composition and Rhetorical Theory
- Rhetoric of Women Writers
- Literacy Issues and Community
- Nebraska Writing Project
- Composition Theory and Practice (available to newly appointed GTA’s only)
- Seminar in Literacy Studies
- Seminar in Rhetorical Theory
- The Nebraska Literacy Project
In addition to these regularly offered courses, the department offers special-topics seminars. In recent years, the department has offered the following special-topics seminars related to composition and rhetoric:
- Pedagogy and the Scholarship of Teaching
- Survey of the History of Rhetoric
- The Politics of Literacy
- Rhetoric and Representation
- Rhetoric of Professional Discourses, Communities, and Identities
- Rhetoric and the Body
- Rhetorics and Poetics
Composition and Rhetoric Advising Documents
Our graduate program offers a generalist M.A. and an individually-tailored Ph.D. program. There are no core or required courses at the Ph.D. level. Ph.D. students design an individual program of study with faculty in their area(s) of interest. Our advising documents describe the program of study, language requirement, exam and dissertation process.AdmissionsPhD Advising DocumentPhD Timelines