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James Thomas Zebroski

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James Zebroski is a senior faculty person in rhetoric and composition. He received his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Professor Zebroski has taught for over thirty years in a variety of settings including five years in the public schools in the Columbus, Ohio area. For fifteen years, he helped develop and teach in the undergraduate and doctoral curriculum at Syracuse University. At UH, he teaches freshman composition regularly, as well as advanced composition; he has taught graduate seminars on Vygotsky, as well as graduate courses on the effects of social class and cultural difference on composition pedagogy.

Professor Zebroski is especially interested in University of Houston as an exemplary site for the advanced study of rhetoric, composition, and pedagogy. Given one of the most diverse undergraduate populations in the United States, UH is a perfect site to investigate the relations between the curriculum, cultural difference, and social class. Dr. Zebroski sees the large number of first generation college students here as a signature strength of UH. Zebroski is working with interested faculty, the University of Houston Writing Fellows, and select graduate students in piloting innovative teaching practices in composition courses in the Department of English that will draw on the rhetorical strengths of our students.

Professor Zebroski is a critical theorist. Zebroski’s book Thinking Through Theory: Vygotskian Perspectives on the Teaching of Writing (1994) was the first book-length consideration of Lev Vygotsky’s work and its import for composition in the discipline of rhetoric and composition. He has also published over 35 articles or chapters of books on a wide range of topics including the politics of writing instruction, post-Fordism and 21st century composition, contemporary composition history, composition textbook advertisements, and teacher response to student texts.

Most recently he has published“Theory in the Diaspora” (2005) and “Social Class as Discourse: Mapping the Landscape of Class in Rhetoric and Composition” (2006); the latter essay was the subject of three response essays in the Journal of Advanced Composition in 2007.

Zebroski has placed essays in Journal of Advanced Composition, College English, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Pre/Text, The Writing Instructor, Symposium: A Journal of Modern Literatures, and Reader, but also has been part of numerous book collaborations, including two NCTE collections Encountering Student Texts and Social Issues in the English Classroom, and the MLA volume The Right to Literacy. He was a participant in a two year roundtable project that culminated in the book Composition and Resistance.

Professor Zebroski is currently working on investigating New Critical composition, specifically the work of one of the “fathers” of new criticism, John Crow Ransom. In addition, Professor Zebroski is pursuing an archival project on the social formation of gay authorship in the 1970s.


  • Ph.D., Ohio State University, English Education
  • M.A., Ohio State University, English Education
  • B.A., Ohio State University, Comprehensive English Education

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Research Interests

  • Social class and composition and rhetoric.
  • Activity theory, genre theory, discourse theory.
  • Curriculum development, gay literature, ethnographic and qualitative inquiry.

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Selected Publications


  • Thinking Through Theory: Vygotskian Perspectives on the Teaching of Writing
    (Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook-Heinemann, 1994).

Book Manuscript

  • Social Class and Composition and Rhetoric

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