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Engaging the Public: Rhetoric and Professional Writing in the 21st Century

This one-day symposium will take place at Washington & Jefferson College on Saturday Oct. 1, 2011. This groundbreaking event will provide a forum for rhetoric and writing scholars, students, and practitioners to learn about and discuss a range of 21st century issues. The registration fee includes coffee, lunch, and a reception.  Registration is $25 when mailed by Sept. 26, or $30 at the door.


Panel on Public Communication and Argument
9:00 - 10:15, Rossin Center Media Room 

  • "Shareholder Diatribes and De-feudalization of the Corporate Public Sphere"
    Gordon Mitchell, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Pittsburgh
  • "Helping Clients Change National Health Care Policy and Practice"
    Jeri Spann, Principal and Senior Policy Writer, Spann Communications LLC

Coffee Break
10:15 - 10:45

Panel on the Rhetoric of Science
10:45 - 12, Rossin Center Media Room

  • "Writing about Quarks, Genes and Evolution for Different Audiences"
    Ann Gibbons, contributing correspondent for Science magazine
  • “Meltdowns in the Media: Fallout Maps from Three Mile Island to Fukushima”
    James Wynn, Associate Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University

Lunch and Student Poster Session
12 - 1:15, Rossin Center Ballroom

Keynote Address
1:15 - 2:15, Rossin Center Media Room

  • "Leadership and the Professional Writer: Calling a Community Think Tank"
     Linda Flower, Professor of Rhetoric, Carnegie Mellon University

Pedagogy in the 21st Century, a Roundtable
2:30 - 4pm, Rossin Center Media Room

  • The Rhetoric of X: Keeping Pace with Emerging Curricula
    Brian Ballentine, West Virginia University
  • Toughening Up the Millennials
    Jennifer Harding and Jenna Wandrisco, Washington & Jefferson College
  • Social Media in the Workplace and Digital Literacy
    John Jones, West Virginia University
  • Integrating Text and Design
    Jean Grace, University of Pittsburgh

4pm - 5pm, Rossin Center Parcell Room


The symposium is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Consortium for Rhetoric and Discourse Studies, Washington & Jefferson College, and Washington & Jefferson's National Endowment for the Humanities Fund.  Funding for the Pittsburgh Consortium for Rhetoric and Discourse Studies is provided by the Department of English at Carnegie Mellon University, the Communication Department at the University of Pittsburgh, the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh on behalf of the English Department, and the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Duquesne University.

Student Poster Session

Students attending the symposium are invited to prepare a poster project for display during lunch. The deadline for submitting poster files to be printed at Washington & Jefferson has been extended to Sept. 26.  Instructions for posters can be found by clicking this link: Student Poster Session Instructions. Please direct questions about the poster session to Dr. Kay McEvoy at

Directions and Parking 

Washington & Jefferson College is located in Washingon, PA just off of routes 70/79, about 40 minutes south of Pittsburgh and 45 minutes north of Morgantown.  Parking is free on campus.

From Rt. 70, take exit 20 (Beau Street) and follow signs directing you to Washington & Jefferson College.  After about a mile you will enter campus, and you will pass a statue of Washington and Jefferson at the intersection of Beau St. and Lincoln St.  Take the next left onto College Ave.  Proceed straight at the intersection with Wheeling St., and then make a left after the gray church onto Strawberry Alley.  Keep going straight and cross back over Lincoln St.  Pass the first parking lot on your right.  Park in the second parking lot, next to the Howard J. Burnett Center.

Once parked, walk in front of the Howard Burnett Center and then make a left to walk up Wheeling Street. At the corner intersection, make a right onto Lincoln St.  Conference registration is in the front lobby of the Rossin Student Center.  Enter the doors just past the semi-circular driveway.            

How To Register

The conference registration fee is $25 when mailed before Sept. 26, or $30 at the door.  Please make checks payable to Washington & Jefferson College. The Registration form is attached below. Please send check and completed registration form to:

Dr. Jennifer Harding, Box #3112
60 S. Lincoln St.
Washington, PA 15301

Here is the symposium registration form: Symposium registration form.doc

Registered Participants

Professionals and Community Members

  • Ann Gibbons
  • Jeri Spann

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Linda Flower
  • Erica Gatts
  • Justin Mando
  • Soleil Phan
  • Jessica Schafer
  • Georgia Schumacher
  • Necia Werner
  • James Wynn

Penn State University

  • Georgia Templeton

Robert Morris University

  • C. Scott Wyatt

University of Pittsburgh

  • Jean Grace
  • Gordon Mitchell

Washington & Jefferson College

  • Kelsey Cunningham
  • Richard Easton
  • Jennifer Harding
  • Michele Krasnesky
  • Evan Lutton
  • Andrea Matuszak
  • Mike McCracken
  • Kay McEvoy
  • Alexandra Sossi
  • Jenna Wandrisco
  • Julie Williams

West Virginia University

  • Brian Ballentine
  • Martina Helfferich
  • John Jones


For questions about the symposium, contact