Skip navigation
University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department


Composition and Rhetoric
Comp share meeting

Students and faculty meet at monthly "Comp Shares" to discuss works in progress.





At UMass, students interested in rhetoric and composition will find a well established program focused on the study of writing in academic and public spaces, emphasizing the intersections of theory, pedagogy, and literate practice. The rhetoric and composition faculty offer core courses in composition theory, rhetorical theory, literacy studies, and research methodologies which are supplemented by a wide array of special topics courses on public discourse, genre theory, race and writing, gender and writing, and writing and emerging technologies to name just a few. These complement the Department of English's extensive offerings in literary and cultural studies, creative writing, and American Studies. Building on these opportunities, doctoral students have the flexibility to define their own course of study and research project.

The PhD in English and specialization in Rhetoric and Composition Studies offers doctoral students the opportunity to work closely with a distinguished faculty, grow as teachers in our nationally recognized first-year Writing Program, writing-across-the-curriculum program , and computer-equipped writing classrooms. The program has a long and distinguished history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 1970, Walker Gibson began the program, and with John Mitchell, Charles Moran, and C.K. Smith, taught and mentored small cohorts of doctoral students through the next two decades. Under the leadership of Charles Moran, the program grew and gained national recognition. Anne Herrington joined the Department of English in 1986, Peter Elbow (now emeritus) in 1986, and Donna LeCourt in 2002. More recently, David Fleming, Haivan Hoang, Janine Solberg and Rebecca Lorimer Leonard have also joined the rhetoric and composition studies faculty.