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Thinking About a Ph.D. in Rhetoric?

posted: 6.20.07 by archived

Over the past couple years, the educational press has focused on the number of Ph.D.s who are being forced to adjunct because of a tight job market. In spite of this trend and focus, large numbers of adjuncts do not possess Ph.D.s. For those of us who teach composition without a Ph.D., one of the most sensible Ph.D.s to consider pursuing is in Rhetoric and Composition. According to lore and rumor, such a doctorate is much more helpful in the current market when searching for Composition gigs–especially if you think being a WPA is in your future. While many of our tenured colleagues in composition have Ph.D.s in literature, and numerous first and second generation WPAs have degrees in a variety of fields, a Rhetoric and/or Composition background is recommended for those thinking about shifting from an MA to a Ph.D. Before applying to said field, contemplate deeply where you want your focus. Before flinging your mind, body, soul, life, and family into a doctoral program, consider reading some of the texts below. Make sure that Rhetoric is a field you are passionate about, and that these are the kinds of books, ideas, and materials you want fully integrated in your life. While many of us in Composition may think we know what Rhetoric is about, be absolutely sure that you do know before you sign up.

Note: This list is compiled from a series of WPA posts on Sat, 19 May 2001, between Peggy O Neill, Mark Gellis, Bridget Fahey Ruetenik, Donna Qualley, and Janice McIntire-Strasburg.

Texts:

Aristotle: Rhetoric

Cicero: De Oratore

George Campbell: The Philosophy of Rhetoric

James Kinneavy: A Theory of Discourse

Kenneth Burke: A Rhetoric of Motives

Hayden White: Tropics of Discourse

Sonja Foss: Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration & Practice

Charles Bonwell: Active Learning

Richard Lanham: The Electronic Word

James Berlin: Rhetoric and Reality

Theresa Enos: Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition

John Gage: “Why Write?”

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Categories: Adjunct Advice, Gregory Zobel, Professional Development & Service
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