Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy

Faculty List

Jonathan Buehl, Vice Chair for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy

Ohio State's program in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy (RCL) has a proud history as a national leader in scholarship and teaching on cultural theories and practices of reading, writing, composing, communicating, and consuming and producing media. Students interested in RCL and its intersections with medicine, science, queer studies, feminist studies, human rights studies, disability studies, critical race studies, and posthuman studies will find many opportunities to participate in reading groups, graduate workshops, symposia, and lecture series in these areas.  

Rhetoric scholars at Ohio State ask how discourse works, and students in rhetoric enjoy a wide range of options for the study of rhetorical culture as shaped by class, race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, and local context. We take up historical investigations into rhetorical practices; theoretical exploration of rhetorical situations, functions, norms, and boundaries; and critical analysis of rhetorical strategies and choices within and across texts. All these modes of inquiry help us to understand how discourse works as an interaction as well as a technology of cultural production. Students interested in rhetoric and gaming have the opportunity to participate in the recently formed Rhetoric, Politics, and Gaming (RPG), a series of lectures, discussions, and workshops centered around video games and gaming culture.  

Composition faculty and graduate students engage a wide range of critical, historical, and pedagogical issues in their research including historical and archival inquiry into the teaching of writing; writing program administration; case study investigations of undergraduate writers; business, professional, and technical writing; writing center theory and practice; online pedagogies; and theoretical studies of writing in higher education contexts.  Compositionists at OSU also engage in and study community writing practices, like the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives and the Literacy Narratives of Black Columbus project, that inform their research and teaching.  Graduate students interested in online writing pedagogy have the opportunity to teach and research fully online sections of first-year writing or online-hybrid sections of second-year writing. These online sections make extensive use of Writers Exchange (WEx), an online peer review platform built, developed, and maintained by Ohio State faculty, graduate students, and staff.

Literacy studies’ primary concern lies in the study and understanding of reading and writing in their inseparable interrelationships. By reading we refer to the ways in which we establish comprehension and make meaning across diverse modes of communication. By writing, we refer to the ways in which expression and communication take place across media, technologies, and symbolic systems. We see this as central to the arts and humanities, but also to the sciences, engineering, medicine, and the professions (STEMM).  Literacy studies at OSU is characterized by its focus on critical, comparative, and historical approaches. From means of acquiring literacy to modes of practice and patterns of impact, we study literacy and literacies in their many social, cultural, political, and economic contexts. The OSU program is distinguished by its direct connection with LiteracyStudies@OSU, a university-wide interdisciplinary initiative. LiteracyStudies@OSU sponsors a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (GIS) in Literacy Studies; a number of working groups including science, health and medicine, translation; the History of the Book program; speakers series; and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar in Literacy Studies.

These areas of concentration are supported by our program’s commitment to the study and use of digital media for teaching and research purposes. The Digital Media Project (DMP) offers state of the art technology and expert staff support to teachers and students. In addition to these resources, the Digital Union provides easy-to-use audio and video recording studios. Scholars and teachers interested in exploring digital literacy practices are invited to attend and teach in Digital Media and Composition (DMAC), a two-week summer institute that attends to digital media studies in both theory and practice.

In addition to our academic research and productions, RCL at Ohio State is truly a scholarly community.  In addition to participating in English departmental functions, our RCL faculty, staff, and students also meet regularly to review and revise RCL curricula, discuss recent research, and socialize casually.

Key Courses

Graduate Courses

Courses on Writing Theory and Instruction

  • ENG 6780: Current Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing. Modern theories of composition; topics include: invention, style, sentence combining, evaluation, the composing process. 
  • ENG 6781: Introduction to the Teaching of First-Year English. Theory and practice in the teaching of first-year composition. Required of all new GTA's in their first quarter of teaching. 
  • ENG 7880: Seminar in Composition. Offerings will include such topics as: (a) invention; (b) the composing process and revision; (c) evaluating and responding to writing; (d) discourse analysis. Repeatable to 10 hours. 
  • ENG 7881: Studies in the Teaching of College Composition. This course has multiple decimalized versions:
  • ENG 7881.02: Teaching Basic Composition
  • ENG 7881.03: Teaching of College Composition in English as a Second Language
  • ENG 7881.04: Teaching Business and Professional Communication

Courses on Rhetorical Theory and Criticism

  • ENG 6779: Introduction to Graduate Study in Rhetoric. A two-course sequence in history and theory which provides a foundation for advanced study in rhetoric. 
  • ENG 6779.01: Classical to Early Renaissance. History and theory of rhetoric from Classical Greece to early modern Europe. 
  • ENG 6779.02: Renaissance to 20th Century. History and theory of rhetoric from the Renaissance to the present.
  • ENG 6795: Introduction to Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition. An introduction to the types of research design in rhetoric and composition
  • ENG 7879: Seminar in Rhetoric. Offerings will include such topics as: (a) the history, theory, and application of rhetoric from Aristotle to the present day; (b) structural analysis of English expository prose. Repeatable to 10 hours.
  • ENG 7895: Seminar in Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition. Intensive study of different types of research designs in composition, culminating with experience in planning a research design. 
  • ENG 8903: Teaching College English. Students work as apprentices to faculty members in the planning and execution of an undergraduate course.

Courses on Business and Technical Writing

  • ENG 7881.04: Teaching Business and Professional Communication

Courses on Linguistics and Language History

  • ENG 6772: English Syntax. Prerequisite: English 2271 (271) or Linguistics 2000 (201). A study of the various systems of English grammar, with emphasis on their application to writing and teaching. 
  • ENG 6774: History of the English Language. A study of the history of English, with emphasis on inner history as well as its outer matrix, and with attention to its place among the world's languages. 
  • ENG 6777: American English. Prerequisite: English 2271 (271) or 771, or equivalent, or permission of instructor. An introduction to various aspects of the English language as it is used and has been used in the continental United States. 
  • ENG 7872: Seminar in the English Language. Prerequisite: English 771 or Linguistics 601 or equivalent, and permission of the instructor. Advanced study of a topic within the realm of English language study. 

Courses in Literacy Studies

  • ENG 6750: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literacy. Introduction to advanced study and current scholarship and criticism in literacy studies. 
  • ENG 7883: Seminar in Literacy Studies. A study of the concept of literacy and its historical, cognitive, social, economic, artistic, and political dimensions. 
  • ENG 7884: History of Literacy/Literacy Past and Present. Taking a historical approach, we seek a general understanding of the history of literacy primarily but not exclusively in the West since classical antiquity with an emphasis on the early modern and modern eras. We examine critically literacy's contributions to the shaping of the modern world and the impacts on literacy from fundamental historical social changes. A new understanding of the place literacy and literacies in social development is our overarching goal. 

Courses in Digital Media

  • ENG 6789: Introduction to Graduate Study in Digital Media. Introduction to advanced study and current scholarship and criticism in Digital Media Studies. 
  • ENG 7889: Seminar in Digital Media Studies. Advanced study of a topic in Digital Media Studies. Repeatable to 10 hours. 

Other courses have topics that change from quarter to quarter, and may be relevant to those interested in rhetoric, composition, language and literacy:

  • ENG 5662: Literary Publishing. Study in the theory and practice of editing and publishing literature. 
  • ENG 8982: Textual Criticism and Editing. Prerequisite: 980. Evaluation of literary editorial methods, past and present; training in skills requisite to the textual critic and scholarly editor; practice in textual editing.


Affiliated Groups

History of the Book
Literacy in Science
Literacy in Health and Medicine
Literacy in Translation
Interdisciplinary Seminar in Literacy Studies for Graduate Students

Affiliated Projects & Centers

Digital Media Project (DMP)
Digital Union

Regular Events

Annual Corbett Lecture
Digital Media and Composition Institute
Literacy@OSU Lecture Series
Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies Graduate Workshop
History of the Book

Scholarships & Awards

Genevieve M. Critel Fellowship in Digital Media
Edward P. J. Corbett Fellowship in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy