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  • Joseph Harris
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    134 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-8431
    Office Hours: W 10am - 12noon


    ​Joseph Harris teaches courses in academic writing, critical reading, creative nonfiction, and digital writing. Before coming to Delaware in 2013, he was the founding director of the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University—an independent, multidisciplinary program noted for its approach to teaching writing as a form of intellectual inquiry. His books include A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966 (updated 2012), Teaching With Student Texts (2010), Rewriting: How to Do Things With Texts (2006), and Media Journal (1998). He served as editor of the CCC journal from 1994-99 and of the SWR book series from 2007-12. He is currently at work on Dead Poets and Wonder Boys, a book on how the teaching of writing has been depicted in film and fiction. To learn more, visit


  • Ph.D., English Education, New York University, 1986
  • M.A., Cinema Studies, New York University, 1982
  • B.A., English, Haverford College, 1979

Research Projects 


  • A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966, New Edition
    Harris, Joseph
    Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2012.

    ​In this classic text, Joseph Harris traces the evolution of college writing instruction since the Dartmouth Seminar of 1966. A Teaching Subject offers a brilliant interpretive history of the first decades during which writing studies came to be imagined as a discipline separable from its partners in English studies. Postscripts to each chapter in this new edition bring the history of composition up to the present.

    Reviewing the development of the field through five key ideas, Harris unfolds a set of issues and tensions that continue to shape the teaching of writing today. Ultimately, he builds a case, now deeply influential in its own right, that composition defines itself through its interest and investment in the literacy work that students and teachers do together. Unique among English studies fields, composition is, Harris contends, a teaching subject.

  • Teaching With Student Texts: Essays Toward an Informed Practice
    Harris, Joseph; John D. Miles, Charles Paine
    Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2010.

    ​Harris, Miles and Paine ask: What happens when the texts that students write become the focus of a writing course? In response, a distinguished group of scholar/teachers suggests that teaching with students texts is not simply a classroom technique, but a way of working with writing that defines composition as a field.

    In Teaching with Student Texts, authors discuss ways of revaluing student writing as intellectual work, of circulating student texts in the classroom and beyond, and of changing our classroom practices by bringing student writings to the table. Together, these essays articulate a variety of ways that student texts can take a central place in classroom work and can, in the process, redefine the ways our field talks about writing.

  • Rewriting: How To Do Things With Texts
    Harris, Joseph
    Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2006.

    ​"Like all writers, intellectuals need to say something new and say it well. But unlike many other writers, what intellectuals have to say is bound up with the books we are reading . . . and the ideas of the people we are talking with."

    What are the moves that an academic writer makes? How does writing as an intellectual change the way we work from sources? In Rewriting, a textbook for the undergraduate classroom, Joseph Harris draws the college writing student away from static ideas of thesis, support, and structure, and toward a more mature and dynamic understanding. Harris wants college writers to think of intellectual writing as an adaptive and social activity, and he offers them a clear set of strategies—a set of moves—for participating in it.

  • Media Journal: Reading and Writing About Popular Culture
    Harris, Joseph; Jay Rosen, Gary Calpas
    Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1995.

    ​There is a major distinction between those who absorb media images as spectators, and those who absorb them as commentators. Responding to images as a journalist, broadcaster, essayist, or critic, requires keen precision and a unique originality. In today's media-saturated environment, the only way to be heard over the din of all the other news reports and commentaries is to write and respond in a manner that is fresh and inviting. Media Journal is a reader containing 40 selections focusing on cultural studies, the media and popular culture. The authors have organized the book by asking readers to do three things: to keep media journals in which they reflect on the uses they make of the voices and images of popular culture, to read and respond to the work of other media critics, and to try their hands at writing media criticism themselves. Readings are drawn from a wide range of writings, and are selected for their liveliness, contemporaneity, and insight. Updated readings better address the diverse media culture of the 1990s. Each reading selection is followed by: "Coming to Terms"--understanding the author in one's own words; "Reading as a Writer"--looking at style and strategy; and "Writing Criticism"--making an author's words and ideas a source for one's own writing. Journalists, writers, cultural historians, critics, philosophers, and anyone interested in popular culture, the media, and cultural studies.

  • UD College /Dept. Name  •   Address  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: 302-xxx-xxxx  •   E-mail:


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