Eileen SchellEileen Schell

Associate Professor of Writing, Writing Program Director . PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1993. Contemporary composition studies. Feminist theory and feminist composition studies. Rhetorical historiography. 19th and 20th century histories of women’s rhetoric. Institutional histories of English studies and higher education. Writing program administration.
As a Scholar
As a scholar in Rhetoric and Composition, I approach the work of the field as a feminist, teacher, rhetorician, and historian. My scholarly interests are, in many ways, a product of my interdisciplinary training in literary studies, critical theory, rhetoric, writing, and women’s studies. My undergraduate and MA degrees in literary studies and feminist theory taught me to be a careful reader of literary and cultural texts and also taught me an appreciation for traditional historical studies of literature and culture. An undergraduate minor in writing sealed my interest in process theories of writing and taught me much about the benefits of a craft-based, workshop-oriented pedagogies. My Ph.D. coursework in English, with a focus in Rhetoric and Composition, provided me with a broad basis for understanding classical and modern theories of rhetoric, theories of rhetorical history and historiography, contemporary writing pedagogies, and feminist and materialist theories. My scholarship draws upon and synthesizes elements of my past training by taking up three specific sites of inquiry within the field of Rhetoric and Composition: feminist theory, pedagogy, and administrative practices; contingent labor issues, and nineteenth century histories of women’s involvement in literacy instruction. The interpretive lens I bring to these historical, rhetorical, and pedagogical/administrative sites is feminist theory with a specific focus on materialist feminisms and feminist historical studies. To examine, for instance, the history of a chronic problem like the field’s reliance on a group of underpaid and overworked part-time writing teachers, I analyze how the teaching of writing has been historically gendered by a set of social and economic power relations. Thus, I blend historical studies of pedagogies and institutions with theoretically informed analyses of contemporary practices and patterns. I am not an antiquarian historian of rhetoric, but one who tries to understand how the present has been shaped by past traditions.