PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Writing

The English Department grants one doctoral degree, the PhD in English. Students in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program work closely with their advisory committees  to design a plan of study suitable to students’ research interests and career goals. Rhetoric and Professional Writing students have the opportunity to take courses and develop their research projects  in three subject areas. These are:

Composition and rhetoric
Research in this area typically:

  • Explores the historical and contemporary work of composition and rhetoric theorists, applying and developing theoretical insights related to the production of texts;
  • Raises critical awareness of how ideologies of race, gender, sexuality, and class are inscribed, effaced, complicated, or extended through language practices;
  • Develops and practices innovative pedagogical strategies and designs assessment methodologies to determine their efficacy.

Sample courses: History of Rhetoric; Genre Studies, Resistance, Rhetoric and the Politics of Literacy; Environmental Writing, and Discipline-Specific Writing and Guidance Genres, among others.

Digital studies
Research and study in this subject area typically:

  • Develops new pedagogies, methodologies, and theories made possible through computerization (i.e. software applications, coding, virtual environments, and interactive media);
  • Raises critical awareness of how ideologies of race, gender, sexuality, and class are inscribed, effaced, complicated, or extended by computerization;
  • Creates and supports scholarly and teaching materials in the form of webtexts that seek to disrupt or complicate academic and print traditions by incorporating multiple modes of meaning making (visual, aural, procedural, synesthetic, haptic, olfactory, etc.). 

Sample courses: Software Studies, Technology as Harbinger/Rhetorics of Technology, Multimodal Theory and Practice, Literacy in the Digital Age.

Professional writing
Research and study in this subject area typically:

  • Investigates and analyzes the strategies of workplace writers, writing for the public and writing for and across discourse communities;
  • Raises critical awareness of genre expectations in light of theories of ethics and audience analysis;
  • Creates and supports scholarly and teaching materials in both traditional and web genres with particular attention to style, editing, and design.

Sample courses: Studies in Visual Rhetorics and Design, Style and Editing, Genres in Professional Writing, Professional Writing Theory and Pedagogy,  and Ethics in the Internet Age, among others.

This breadth of course offerings means that students immerse themselves in innovative scholarly projects such as

V is What Democracy Looks Like: Image Politics in the Age of Post-Scarcity Information, Bryan Jones, PhD., 2017.

Texts in the Age of Digital Reproduction: A Rhetoric of Authenticity in the Age of Multimodality, Dustin Morris, PhD., 2017.

Complicating and Clarifying Disciplinary Writing Practices: The Toggling Move for Building Rhetorical Flexibility, Lindsay Clark, PhD., 2017.

Composing Place. Steven Pederson, PhD., 2015.

The Rhetoric of Strength in American Culture, 1890-Present Day,. Benjamin Smith, PhD., 2015.

Exploring Multimodal Composing: A Techno-Pedagogical Study, Elkie Burnside, PhD., 2013.

Increasing Genre Awareness in Students in the First-Year Composition Classroom at a Two-Year College, Jeff Tate, PhD., 2015.

For a description of the admission qualifications, application materials, degree requirements and regulations, and other details specific to the PhD in English degree, see the PhD Guidelines

Please contact An Cheng, Director of Rhetoric and Professional Writing, at an.cheng@okstate.edu or 405-744-9474 or the faculty members whose research areas match your interest for information about the PhD in English degree.