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Rhetoric and Writing Studies

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Rhetoric and Writing Studies Graduate Program

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Who We Are

Oklahoma’s graduate program in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (RWS) prepares students to become scholar-practitioners who analyze rhetoric, writing, media, and making across a range of cultural and historical contexts. Our professors represent the diversity of the field, researching rhetorical history and theory, women’s rhetorics, indigenous and de-colonial studies, composition theory, technical writing and scientific communication, multimodal production, religious rhetoric, digital humanities, cross-curricular literacy, memory studies, and writing program administration. Recent courses demonstrating this breadth, include:

  • Intro to Disability Studies
  • Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
  • The Rhetoric of Women Writers 
  • Intro to Technology Studies in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy
  • Indigenous Rhetorics
  • The Digital Humanities

RWS faculty serve as editors of 3 academic journals:

How You'll Be Funded

Of course, in addition to taking an intensive array of courses, at OU you will be supported financially by teaching and learning in our in our award-winning First-Year Composition program and/or working in our world-renowned Writing Center. Many students also take advantage of unique funding opportunities including research assistantships and working in our composition office.

What You'll Create

New graduate students work closely with their faculty advisors to develop a unique program of study, resulting in projects and publications like:

  • Rebecca Gerdes-McClain (PhD 2017, Assistant Professor Columbus State)—“Pivotal Moments: Personal Histories of Labor in First Year Composition,” Dissertation.
  • Haeyoung Lee (MA 2017)—“The Rhetoric of Ecological Food: Environmental and Technological God Terms in Blue Apron, Soylent, and Slow Food,” MA Thesis.
  • Jordan Woodward (MA 2017)Fulbright Research Fellowship (India): “Women’s Water Stories: A Digital Storytelling Project.”
  • Shannon Madden (PhD 2015, Director of Graduate Writing NC State)—“Obsolescence in/of Digital Writing Studies,” Computers and Composition, vol. 33, 2014, pp. 29-39.
  • Jerry Stinnett (PhD 2015, Assistant Professor Grand Valley State University)—“Resituating Expertise: An Activity Theory Perspective on Representation in Critical Ethnography,” College English, vol. 75, no. 2, 2012, pp. 129-149.
  • Faculty + Interests

    Bill Endres: Digital humanities, medieval manuscripts, and visual rhetoric. 

    Rachel C. Jackson: Native American and Indigenous Studies, Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory, Decolonial Theory, Land-Based Pedagogies, Indigenous Language Revitalization, and Critical Regionalism

    Susan Kates: History of rhetoric; material rhetorics; women's rhetorics; creative nonfiction; Oklahoma cultural studies.  

    • Check out Professor Kates’s creative non-fiction collection Red Dirt Women if you’re interested in learning more about Oklahoma as an intricate site of cultural studies.

    Will Kurlinkus: Technical writing; nostalgia; rhetoric; multimodal composition; digital media studies; philosophy of technology; design studies; UX.

    Roxanne Mountford: Rhetorical history, theory, and criticism; writing; women’s rhetoric; African American rhetoric; rhetorical education; religious rhetoric; environmental rhetoric; institutional history.  

    Sandra Tarabochia: Writing program administration; writing pedagogy; writing across the curriculum/writing in the disciplines; cross-curricular literacy learning; cross-disciplinary collaboration.  

    Kimberly (Roppolo) Wieser: American Indian rhetorics, literatures, critical theories,  gender studies 

    James Zeigler: Cultural rhetoric studies; post-45 American literature; Cold War culture; Civil Rights Movement; literary and critical theory; queer theory; the graphic novel; environmental literature, ecocriticism, and the new materialism 

    How To Apply

    Application Deadline: January 5.

    English Department Application Requirements:

    1.     A sample of critical or scholarly writing, no more than 25 pages long. This may be an excerpt from a longer work, such as a senior thesis. It should, however, be clear of grading comments and should preferably be in your expressed area of concentration.

    2.     A 1-2 page personal statement about what you’ve done in English or in related fields, why you want to study English, and, particularly, why you think the University of Oklahoma is an appropriate place for you to do it. We want to know what your scholarly interests are, and what areas of concentration you are planning to declare. If you aren’t sure yet what you plan to do in English, that’s fine, but we want to know that you have some idea of the possibilities.

    3.     Three letters of recommendation. On your online application, you will be asked to provide emails for three references, who will be contacted by the University with a request for a letter of recommendation. Request your references to comment specifically upon (1) your qualifications as a prospective graduate student (literary/rhetorical judgment, writing ability, originality, diligence) and, if you are applying for Graduate Teaching Assistantship, (2) your qualifications as a prospective teacher (ability to organize, enthusiasm, responsibility, objectivity). If possible, referees should use the online reference system, but if they prefer, they may send hardcopy letters directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions (731 Elm Avenue, Room 318 Norman, OK 73019).

    5.     An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae

    6.     Official transcripts from every prior institution

    For other questions contact our graduate program liaison Brenda Mackey ( or director of graduate study Dr. William Kurlinkus (wkurlinkus@gmail).