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Nathan Shepley

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Associate Professor

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Nathan Shepley teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy. His specialization areas include composition history and pedagogy, place-conscious and ecological theories of writing, and postmodern rhetorical theory, especially as influenced by neosophism. Currently, he is studying composition’s local public work from the disciplinary vantage points of sociology and anthropology, and, for a longer-term project, he is investigating what going on site to study composition history means when past physical infrastructure has been removed. Also, he is involved in grant-funded projects to gather perspectives and place-based writing from members of diverse Houston communities and to collect activities and assignments supporting undergraduate multimodal composition.

Director of Lower Division Studies in the UH English Department since fall 2015, he oversees the direction of First Year Writing I and II and other lower-level English courses. Additionally, he coordinates the department’s TA/TF Supervisors and serves as Faculty Advisor of the Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy Colloquium, a registered graduate student organization. At the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), he chaired the Subcommittee on Information, Hospitality, and Special Events, working with a team of volunteers to publicize Houston for a national scholarly community; some of his contributions in this capacity appear on the 2016 CCCC Hospitality website.

His book, Placing the History of College Writing: Stories from the Incomplete Archive, was published in 2016 by Parlor Press and the WAC Clearinghouse as part of the Perspectives on Writing series. Using First Sophistic ideas to analyze composition history at a rural university and an urban university, it argues that pre-1950s college student writing, even if appearing formulaic at a glance, did spatially and rhetorically complex work capable of influencing how composition scholars and teachers see student writing today. The book then provides tools to help composition scholars and teachers discern multiple contextual dimensions of student writing at various higher education institutions.

Scholarly articles or chapters of his have appeared in Open Words: Access and English Studies, Composition Forum, Enculturation, Composition Studies, and Sara Webb-Sunderhaus and Kim Donehower’s edited collection Re-Reading Appalachia: Literacy, Place, and Cultural Resistance (University Press of Kentucky). His latest article, “‘They Want to Tell Their Story’: What Folklorists and Sociologists Can Teach Compositionists about Linking Scholarly Research to Nonacademic Communities,” will appear in the Spring 2017 issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service Learning. Before focusing on research, he worked as an editorial assistant for IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, which kindled his additional interest in professional writing. In general, whether focusing on composition history, pedagogy, or both, his research is informed by the question of where writing occurs—and by theories and research that complicate the where question from physical, social, or discursive angles. Increasingly, he is interested in how the concept of local assumes multiple meanings for culturally and geographically diverse student writers.

Education

  • Ph.D., Ohio University
  • M.A., University of Alabama
  • B.A., Berry College

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Research Interests

Composition History and Historiography, Place-Conscious and Ecological Theories of Writing, Composition Pedagogy, Neosophistic Rhetorical Theory

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Teaching

  • ENGL 1303: First-Year Writing I (hybrid version)
  • ENGL 1304: First-Year Writing II
  • ENGL 3341: Business and Professional Writing (hybrid and traditional versions)
  • ENGL 3396: Selected Topics: Gender and Writing
  • ENGL 6300: Seminar in College Teaching of Language and Literature in English
  • ENGL 7370: History of Rhetoric (twentieth-century version)
  • ENGL 7374: Critical Pedagogy
  • ENGL 7396: History of Composition
  • ENGL 8395: Selected Topics in Rhetoric and Composition: Places of Composition
  • Supervision of Teaching Fellows

Affiliations

  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • Rhetoric Society of America (RSA)
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)

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