The Language, Writing and Rhetoric Group combines faculty and students who are interested in the power of language and writing to shape an audience's view of the world and persuade them to have certain attitudes and to act on those attitudes.
The field of Rhetoric and Composition includes scholars who are interested in the historical tradition of rhetoric, the study of the "available means of persuasion" as Aristotle defined it, from the classical period through the modern era, as well as in persuasive texts and movements analyzed through rhetorical theory. Composition scholars are interested in how writers construct and refine their texts in response to the demands of situations and genres. They also study the teaching of writing, often pursuing student-focused research into best practices for enhancing literacy skills which now include the production of texts requiring visual, audio and video as well as verbal modes of presentation.
Faculty in Language, Writing and Rhetoric support the following programs:
- An undergraduate emphasis within the English Major by offering courses in advanced writing and editing and in Composition theory; in the history of the English language, in varieties of English and theories of grammar; in the history of rhetoric and rhetorical movements; in visual rhetoric and verbal/visual texts.
- A Rhetoric Minor taken by students in variety of majors (e.g. Government and Politics; Journalism; Marketing) who fulfill the requirements for the minor with
- An MA with a Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition
- A PhD for students who choose to pursue a dissertation project in rhetoric, composition or language in fulfillment of department and campus requirements for the PhD in English.
Faculty and graduate students in this area pursue research and teach courses on topics such as the following:
- Composition theory, the Teaching of Writing, Writing Center Pedagogy
- Writing addressed to different audiences, especially Professional Writing
- Rhetoric, the theory of persuasion, in its various forms through history, including the history of women's rhetorical theory, African American women's rhetorical practices, ancient and medieval rhetorical theory and educational practices
- The rhetorical practice of different groups of speakers and movements (e.g., the Abolitionists)
- The rhetorical dimension of visual practices
- The nature of language, especially persuasive language
- The role of rhetoric in religion
- Language: Its forms and uses; History and varieties of English
- Usage-based grammatical theory; Conceptual semantics and pragmatics
- Linguistic stylistics
- Language practices in religion, politics, humor and other special uses
Because of their interest in practical, functional persuasive writing, Rhetoric, Composition, and Language scholars are involved in the University of Maryland's Writing Programs and support their courses, curricular initiatives and outreach to the campus and community.