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Indiana University Bloomington

John Lincoln Schilb

John Lincoln Schilb

Email | 812-855-5029

Professor of English
Culbertson Chair of Writing

Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 1978
M.A., English Literature, Hofstra University, 1974

I specialize in composition, rhetoric, and literary theory, as well as being interested in how these areas connect. I explore possible links among them in my current work as editor of the journal College English, in my 1992 book Between the Lines: Relating Composition Theory and Literary Theory (Boynton/Cook), and in two collections I co-edited for the Modern Language Association: Contending with Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age (1991) and Writing Theory and Critical Theory (1994). In my most recent book, Rhetorical Refusals: Defying Audiences’ Expectations (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007), I turn to examining a specific kind of persuasive act, one in which the writer or speaker deliberately breaks with rhetorical conventions to achieve some higher aim. Here at IU, I regularly teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, including a seminar on Holocaust representations for the University’s summer Intensive Freshman Seminars Program. Also, I train Indiana and Michigan high school instructors to teach our undergraduate course in Literary Interpretation at their home institutions.

Recent Courses


The Social Contexts of Composing
The Teaching of Literature
Media Literacies


Writing about the Visual Arts
Popular Representations of the Holocaust
Representations of “Enemies” in Literature and Film
Genres in Literature, Film, and Everyday Life

Selected Publications (click images for more information)

Authored Books:

Rhetorical Refusals: Defying Audiences’ ExpectationsRhetorical Refusals: Defying Audiences’ Expectations. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.

Between the Lines: Relating Composition Theory and Literary TheoryBetween the Lines: Relating Composition Theory and Literary Theory. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1996.

Edited Books:

Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and WritersMaking Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. With John Clifford. 1st ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999. 2nd ed. 2002.

Making Arguments about LiteratureMaking Arguments about Literature (compact edition of MLM). With John Clifford. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.

Ways of Making Literature Matter (Part One of MLM). With John Clifford. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.

Writing Theory and Critical Theory. With John Clifford. New York: MLA, 1994.

Constellations: A Contextual Reader for Writers. With Elizabeth Flynn and John Clifford. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. 2nd ed. 1995.

Contending With Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age. With Patricia Harkin. New York: MLA, 1991.

Chapters in Books:

“Composing Literary Studies in Graduate Courses.” Disciplining English. Ed. David Shumway. and Craig Dionne. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. 137-48.

“The WPA and the Politics of Litcomp.” The Writing Program Administrator’s Resource. Ed. Stuart Brown, Theresa Enos, and Catherine Chaput. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002. 165-79.

“Autobiography After Prozac.” Rhetorical Bodies: Towards a Material Rhetoric. Ed. Jack Selzer and Sharon Crowley. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. 202-17.

“Reprocessing the Essay.” Post-Process Composition Theory: Beyond the Writing Process Paradigm. Ed. Thomas Kent. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999. 198-214.

“Scholarship in Composition and Literature: Some Comparisons.” Academic Advancement in Composition Studies. Ed. Richard and Barbara Geselle Gebhardt. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1996. 21-31.

“Future Historiographies of Rhetoric and the Present Age of Anxiety.” Writing Histories of Rhetoric. Ed. Victor Vitanza. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994. 128-38.

“Composing Conflicts: A Writing Teacher’s Perspective.” Teaching the Conflicts: Gerald Graff, Curricular Reform, and the Culture Wars. Ed. William Cain. New York: Garland, 1994. 95-108.

“The History of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of History.” PRE/TEXT: The First Decade. Ed. Victor Vitanza. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993. 237-62. [Rpt. With a new postscript from PRE/TEXT 7 (1987): 11-31.]

“Poststructuralism, Politics, and the Subject of Pedagogy.” Pedagogy is Politics. Ed. Maria-Regina Kecht. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992. 48-69.

“Cultural Studies, Postmodernism, and Composition.” Contending With Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age. Ed. Patricia Harkin and John Schilb. New York: MLA, 1991. 173-88.

“Text,’ Author,’ Reader,’ and History’ in the Introduction to Literature Course.” Practicing Theory in Introductory College Literature Courses. Ed. James M. Cahalan and David B. Downing. Urbana: NCTE, 1991. 59-71.

Sampling of Articles:

“Preparing Graduate Students to Teach Literature: Composition Studies as a Possible Foundation.” Pedagogy 1 (2001): 507-524.

“Traveling Theory and the Defining of New Rhetorics.” Rhetoric Review 11 (1992): 34-48.

“What’s at Stake in the Conflict Between Theory’ and Practice’ in Composition?” Rhetoric Review 10 (1991): 91-97.

“The Role of Ethos: Ethics, Rhetoric, and Politics in Contemporary Feminist Theory.” PRE/TEXT 11 (1990): 211-34.

Selected Honors and Awards

Honorable Mention, Journal of Advanced Composition W. Ross Winterowd Award, for Between the Lines (1997)
Nancy Dasher Award from the College English Association of Ohio, for Contending With Words (1994)
Certificate of Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland (1995)



General Editor, Series in Composition and Rhetoric, Peter Lang Publishing (1991-98)
Guest editor, issue on “Teaching Noncanonical Literature,” Reader (1986)

Editorial Boards:

College English (1998-present)
Studies in Writing and Rhetoric series, Conference on College Composition and Communication (1996-99)
Rhetoric Review (1995-present)
Works and Days (1995-present)
Reader (1993-present)
PRE/TEXT (1988-present)

Other Professional Service:

MLA Delegate Assembly (representing Composition, Writing, and Rhetoric) (1996-98)
Executive Committee, MLA Division on Teaching as a Profession (1992-96); chair in 1995
Chair, CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award Committee (1992-93); member 1990-94
Executive Board, Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (1989-91)
NCTE Committee on Response to Literature (1985-88)