Faculty Biography

James Webber



BA, Augsburg College (MN), English and Spanish (1999); MA, University of New Hampshire, English Literature (2005); PhD, University of New Hampshire, Composition Studies (2012)

Contact Information:

Office: Frandsen 225
Telephone: (775) 784-
Email: jwebber@unr.edu

Academic Specializations:

rhetoric and public engagement, composition theory and practice, writing teacher preparation, writing across the curriculum/writing in the disciplines, professional writing.



I study public rhetoric about literacy education, both k-12 and postsecondary. I am currently working on a book project that examines how writing teachers and scholars “go public”—how they make the case for their expertise—at a time when the dominant trend in education reform toward externally imposed standards, curricula, and assessment discounts this expertise. This project integrates democratic critiques of professionalism, composition’s efforts in public engagement, and rhetorical critiques of public discourse. I have also published on religious fundamentalism in political discourse, disciplinarity in composition teachers’ and scholars’ writing, contending understandings of “rhetoric” in literature and composition scholarship, and public discourse about literacy educators’ professional judgment.


Undergraduate courses taught:

  • 101, Composition I (Spring 2014, Fall 2012)
  • 400A, Topics in Writing: Writing for Nonprofit Groups and Organizations (Spring 2014)
  • 401B, Advanced Nonfiction Writing (Fall 2013)
  • 400A, Topics in Writing: Writing in Disciplines and Professions (Fall 2012)
  • 400B, Topics in Professional Writing: Professional Writing and the Public Good (Spring 2013)

Graduate Seminars Taught:

  • 738R, Theory and Practice of Professional Writing (Fall 2014)
  • 735, Seminar in Rhetoric: Composition’s Discourse of Expertise (Fall 2013)

Interests for the Future:

Teaching: For undergraduates, I have three courses in mind. The first would examine literacy narratives as public arguments, the second would explore graphic novels as literary and rhetorical experiences, and the third would discuss rhetorical critique as a personal, academic, and public practice. For graduate students, I have two courses in mind: one on the relationship between language diversity and the teaching of writing and rhetoric, and another on the theory and practice of community literacy/local public engagement.

Research: I plan to investigate how education reform organizations use the rhetoric of philanthropy to displace educators’ professional standing. I am also interested in adapting the concept of “public-public partnerships” from the context of public resource management (like water) to the context of educational policy development.