Our collective research agenda studies the use of language and rhetoric to engage with pressing social and cultural issues.

60 Hours of Coursework
12 Hours of Foundation
12 Hours of Rhetoric in Society
3:1 student to faculty ratio
Our Doctoral Program in Rhetoric and Writing

Students engage in research on how rhetoric and writing can contribute to social progress. We look at how literary practices create, circulate, and prioritize societal values and public policies. Students examine how rhetoric and writing empower and control access to power. 

Why Study Rhetoric and Writing Here?

Virginia Tech’s Rhetoric and Writing doctoral program have distinguished faculty focus on rhetorical and social problems in variety of areas such as science and technology, the environment, globalized communication, civic engagement, popular and public culture, medicine and disability, education etc. 

Faculty Research Interests


- rhetoric of race and identity

- writing assessment

- writing centers

- composition

- english as a second or other language

- writing centers

- pedagogy/curriculum development

James Dubinsky

- civic engagement

- communicating science

- veterans in society

- race

- scholarship of teaching

- social inequality

- professional and technical communication

Carlos Evia

- human-computer interaction in the humanities

- occupational safety and health communication for Hispanic workers

- entertainment education for risk communication

- creating technical documentation

Diana George
Diana George

- writing studies

- activist documentary

- rhetoric of dissent

- alternative press

- dissenting rhetorics

- graphic novel

- homelessness

Bernice Hausman

- public humanities

- narrative medicine

- cultural studies of medicine

- medical rhetoric and the medical humanities

- maternity and breastfeeding

- critical and feminist gender theory

- vaccination controversy

Paul Heilker

- modern rhetorical theory

- writing pedagogy

- language, violence, and nonviolence

- the essay

- rhetorical constructions of autism

- public and civil discourse

Kelly Pender

- history of rhetoric

- contemporary rhetorical theory

- rhetoric of health and medicine

- genetic risk

- material rhetorics

- medical humanities

- rhetorical invention

Katy Powell

- displacement narratives

- human rights rhetorics

- identity and self-representation

- performative autobiography

- displacement narratives

- feminism

- human rights

- oral history

- rhetoric

David Radcliffe

- eighteenth century and romantic poetry

- Lord Byron

- digital humanities

- book trades

- documentary editing

- prosopography

- reception history

- semantic web technologies

Jennifer Sano-Franchini

- cultural rhetorics

- asian american rhetoric

- information design

- computers and writing

- digital rhetoric

- academic labor

- institutional rhetorics

- multimodal composition

Quinn Warnick
Quinn Warnick

- rhetoric in online environments

- ancient Greek concept of ethos

- online identities

- online communities

- identity-based persuasion

- anonymity and pseudonymity

- mixed-methods research in Internet studies.

Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing Research Highlights

English Graduate Student Organization

The English Graduate Student Organization is a professional and social organization for our graduate students. We host a number of annual events including book fairs, a graduate student conference, and social outings. You will receive regular invites to the meetings and functions.

Graduate Students
Interested in research on how rhetoric and writing can contribute to social progress?

Prospective students, please call Katrina Powell at 540-231-2374 or email: kmpowell@vt.edu

Visit our Blacksburg office at 445 Shanks Hall, 181 Turner Street NW, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Domestic Application

*Fall: February 1

International Application

*Fall: February 1

*Deadline for admission with full consideration for funding: February 1

Contact Us

Program Inquiries:

Katrina Powell
Director, PhD in Rhetoric and Writing
445 Shanks Hall
(540) 231-6150

Application Inquiries:

Sarah Helwig
Graduate Programs Coordinator
310 Shanks Hall
(540) 231-4659

Department of English

Shanks 323 (0112)
181 Turner Street NW
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061