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MA in Rhetoric & Composition

Welcome to the website for the MA major in Rhetoric and Composition! We invite you to explore our program and the opportunities it offers for advanced study in writing and the teaching of writing, including such exciting areas as minority rhetorics, digital literacies, writing theory and practice, history of rhetoric, gender and language, political rhetoric, writing centers, and more.  

If you're a prospective student, you'll find information here about admission and degree requirements, our faculty, and our students. Current students will find updated information about current and future course offerings, program announcements, and faculty and student accomplishments.

We invite you to see what we have to offer!

MA Rhetoric and Composition Brochure (PDF)

Graduate College Events and Workshops

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Social Events

BBQ and Beer!
Kent Blacks BBQ
San Marcos, TX

Friday March 3rd, 2017
5:00- 7:00 pm
Hosted by Octavio Pimentel

Fun and Games!
Get ready for the final end-of-semester push! Join us for "game night" at Dr. Balzhiser's home on

Friday, April 28, 2017
4:00 pm at Railyard in San Marcos, TX
Significant others welcome



Writing Successful Conference Proposals

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
5:00 pm-6:00pm
Place: TBA
Hosted by Eric Leake and Jaime Mejia

Writing the Curriculum Vita (CV)

Thursday, April 6, 2017 in FH 376 at 2:00 pm
Hosted by Nancy Wilson and Becky Jackson

Important Dates

Spring 2017

Deadline for Graduation Application: TBD

Final Date for Thesis Defense: April 4th, 2017 (draft due to committees March 21st, 2017)

Thesis Due to The Graduate College: April 11th, 2017

Final Thesis Approval Date: April 25th, 2017 at 5:00 pm


Featured MARC Faculty

Dr. Nancy Wilson
Dr. Nancy Wilson

Since 1992, Dr. Nancy Effinger Wilson has been on the Texas State University English Department faculty, teaching courses such as the T.A. Practicum, Composition Pedagogy, Composition Theory, and most recently a course on Women’s Rhetoric. For her teaching, Dr. Wilson received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Wilson also coordinated and then directed the Texas State Writing Center from 1995 to 2014, and several of her scholarly articles focus on writing centers. With current Writing Center Coordinator Keri Fitzgerald, for example, Dr. Wilson published “Empathic Tutoring in the Third Space” in the Writing Lab Newsletter in which they advocate for the creation of what Gloria Anzaldúa labeled Nepantla or a third space in which tutee, tutor, and faculty are encouraged to dialogue with one another. Daniel Lawson references this article as exemplifying a fortunate new trend in the literature: “here, empathy and emotion open conversation and make critique available, evening out power structures" (25).  Another article entitled “Stocking the Bodega: Towards a New Writing Center Paradigm,” published in the University of Texas’ Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, recounts the changes Dr. Wilson made to shift the writing center paradigm from a generic “big box store” mentality to that of a local bodega. Later, in “Making Space for Diversity,” published in College Composition and Communication, Dr. Wilson related the resistance she faced when she made these changes, and specifically the backlash from the university that occurred when she opted to include Spanish and the National Council of Teachers of English/College Composition and Communication “Students’ Right to Their Own Language” on the writing center’s home page.

Finally, “Bias in the Writing Center: Tutor Perceptions of African American Language” published in Writing Centers and the New Racism began with this supposition: if “Standard American English” is, indeed, a universal and apolitical standard, then deviations from that standard should not be influenced by the writer’s identity.  In other words, how we perceive error is linked to how we perceive the individual making the error. Writing Centers and the New Racism was named the winner of the International Writing Centers Association Outstanding Book Award for 2011.

Now, as Director of Lower Division Studies, Dr. Wilson’s scholarship has shifted to the composition classroom. For example, in “Cross-Examining Bigotry: Using Toulmin’s Argument Model and Huckin’s CDA to Interrogate Overt and Covert Racist Arguments” published in The CEA Forum, Dr. Wilson provides sample composition assignments designed to teach students how to unpack and subvert illogical arguments, in this case the racist arguments Anne Moody recounts in her 1968 Coming of Age in Mississippi and a contemporary U.S. Parks “trading card” that suggests that slavery was necessary.

Also focused on the composition classroom is “Coming in from the (Binary) Code: Deconstruction in the Composition Classroom,” published in Writing on the Edge. In that piece, Dr. Wilson outlines how to teach composition students to deconstruct binaries via a three-step process: 1) detect binary oppositions that privilege one group at the expense of another; 2) trouble the binary; and 3) clarify why steps one and two matter. In 2015, when it came time to develop online training modules for the Texas State University English Department’s new Teaching Assistants, Dr. Wilson assigned them this piece. The TAs were asked to 1) respond to the article; 2) mark their identities on a t-chart, adding terms if they chose; 3) discuss how their identities compared to those of our university’s student population; and 4) explore how awareness of these similarities/difference will influence their pedagogical choices. Several TAs also used this lesson in their actual composition classes. The productive ways in which this TA practicum lesson on deconstruction helped cultivate awareness of diversity challenges is the focus of “Cultivating Awareness: Deconstruction as a Tool for Diversity in the TA Practicum and FYE Classroom,” a paper that Dr. Wilson will be presenting at the College Composition and Communication to be held in Portland, Oregon, in 2017.  

Featured MARC Alumni

Justin Whitney

Justin graduated from the MARC program in Spring 2012. He recalls Texas State as a fantastic beginning to his research and scholarship. Justin grew up in San Antonio and graduated with his Bachelor in English from the University of Texas. In the years leading up to the MARC program, Justin taught ESL in South Korea before deciding to come back and get his MA.

Justin was accepted with funding to three out of four schools, but the MARC program offered him countless opportunities to pursue his teaching endeavors and research interests. In the MARC program, Justin found easy access to scholars with substantial investment in critical work and a network of supportive mentors and fellow students. He was awarded the William M. Stewart School Graduate Scholarship and the Excellence in Writing Award and Teaching. Justin credits the MARC program with paving the way to his first publication and nurturing his journey to attain his PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. 

Justin is currently completing his dissertation in the PhD program in Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Utah. He has presented at eleven conferences over the last several years and will present at the Symposium of Second Language Writing In October of 2016 and at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Portland, Oregon in 2017. After completing his dissertation, Justin will pursue a tenure-track position in rhetoric and composition.

Featured Current MARC Student

Ronessa McDonald
Ronessa McDonald

As a nontraditional MARC student, Ronessa works full time as an English Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator and take classes part time so this is her third year in the program. Before becoming a Curriculum Coordinator, she taught high school English for twenty-four years; that experience combined with her work with secondary English Language Arts teachers has given her a real and practical interest in writing pedagogy. She is interested in how we can harness the rich scholarship in the field of rhetoric and composition and apply it to secondary writing education. 


MARC graduate Manny Pina has been accepted into the PhD program in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

2016 MARC graduate Edward Santos Garza has accepted a position as a Rhetoric Assessment Affiliate for the University of Texas at Austin's OnRamps  Program, which brings rigorous, dual enrollment writing courses to thousands of students in underprivileged high schools across the state.

2016 MARC graduate Kristin Milligan successfully defended her thesis in July and has accepted the position of Associate Director of the Learning Center at East Central College in Union, Missouri. 

2016 MARC graduate Clare Murray successfully defended her thesis, "Being Right or Doing Right? Employing Virtue Theory in Response to Religious Student Discourse in First-Year Writing," in the spring and has accepted a lecturer position in Rhetoric and Composition at St. Edward's University. 

2016 MARC graduate Edward Garza successfully defended his thesis, "The Public Pochx: Rhetorics of American-Born Latinxs," in the spring and has also accepted a lecturer position in Rhetoric and Composition at St. Edward's University. 

MARC student Andrew Booth has been awarded the Ralph and Francys Houston scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. MARC Graduate Assistant, Shane Teague, has been awarded the Ione Dodson Young scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. 

Dr. Octavio Pimentel has won the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication's Technical and Scientific Communication Award in the category of Best Original Collection of Essays in Technical or Scientific Communication for Communicating Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in Technical Communication. 

Dr. Rebecca Jackson was named an Alpha Chi "Favorite Professor" in 2014 and 2015.

Dr. Octavio Pimentel has been named the faculty recipient of Texas State’s Excellence in Diversity Award.

Dr. Octavio Pimentel and MATC director Dr. Miriam Williams' coedited collection, Communicating Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in Technical Communication, was awarded "2016 Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication" by the National Council of Teachers of English.


Dr. Eric Leake's article "The Dinner Table Debate and the Uses of Hospitality" has been published in the latest issue of the Present Tense.

"Exito (Success)," written by Dr. Octavio Pimentel and Dr. Nancy Wilson, appears in Decolonizing Rhetoric and Composition Studies: New Latinx Keywords for Theory and Pedagogy.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson's co-authored book (with Jackie Grutsch McKinney and Nicole Caswell), The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors, has been published by Utah State University Press, 2016.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson's article, "Writing Center Administration and/as Emotional Labor," coauthored with Jackie Grutsch McKinney and Nicole Caswell, has been published in the latest issue of Composition Forum.

Reflections has published MARC student Shane Teague's review of Aja Martinez and Vershawn Ashanti Young's edited collection, Code-meshing as World English: Pedagogy, Policy, and Performance, in its Spring 2016 issue. 

MARC student Kristin Milligan's piece "Formal Outlines and Their Limitations" will be included in the forthcoming publication Bad Ideas About Writing, a collection co-edited by Cheryl Ball and Drew Loewe. 

Dr. Eric Leake's coauthored chapter with Cydney Alexis and Scot Barnet, titled "Composing Place, Composing Las Vegas," has been published in Star Vanguri's edited collection Rhetorics of Names and Naming, part of the Routledge Studies in Rhetoric and Composition series. 

Dr. Eric Leake's article "Empathizer-in-Chief: The Promotion and Performance of Empathy in the Speeches of Barack Obama" has been published in Volume 6, Issue 1 of the Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric

Dr. Deb Balzhiser’s article, "Participatory Design Research for Curriculum Development of Graduate Programs for Workplace Professionals,” written with Paul Sawyer (Southeastern Louisiana University), J Smith (MATC), and Shen Womack (MATC), appears in Programmatic Perspectives 7.2 (Fall 2015). Web.

Dr. Octavio Pimentel's book--Historias de Éxito within Mexican Communities: Silenced Voices (Palgrave Macmillan a division of St. Martin’s Press)--is now in print.





Conference Presentations

Dr. Rebecca Jackson presented on the panel "Beyond the Anecdotal: Studying Writing Center Director Labor" at the 2016 International Writing Centers Association Conference in Denver, CO, October 13-17, 2016.

MARC student Nathaniel Hagemaster presented his paper "Playing 'Fishy' Drag in Digital Spaces: Creating Queer Gaming Identities that Resist Monstrous Forms of Queerness" at the 2016 PCA/ACA conference in Seattle, Washington. 

MARC student Kristin Milligan presented "Discussions of Racism and White Privilege: Can Writing Centers Afford to Ignore Them?" at the SUNY Conference on Writing 2016 on March 5th, 2016 in Albany, New York. 

The MARC program was well represented at the third annual Trends in Teaching College Composition Conference hosted by Collin College in Mckinney, Texas. Dr. Jaíme Mejia presented "Using Sociology to Assess Audience Awareness in FYC Classes." Clare Murray presented "'This I believe': Latin@ Narratives in Freshman Student Writing" and Edward Garza presented "...And El Español Did Not Devour Them: Crossing Composition Borders with LatinX Literature." 

Dr. Eric Leake presented "Recovering Empathy with Things" at the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America conference in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The MARC program was well represented at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Houston, Texas by Dr. Octavio Pimentel, Dr. Eric Leake, and Dr. Rebecca Jackson. Dr. Pimentel presented "Opening the Gateway: The Power of Dual Language Composition Courses"; Dr. Leake presented "Empathy and the Essay: Writing in Response to Perspective-Taking Prompts"; and Dr. Jackson will acted as a respondent to speakers on a panel about MA programs sponsored by the Master's Degree Consortium of Writing Studies Specialists. (MDCWSS). As co-chairs of the Master's Degree Consortium of Writing Studies Specialists, Dr. Leake and Dr. Jackson conducted the consortium's annual business meeting at 4Cs.

Current MARC student, Nathaniel Hagemaster will be presenting at the graduate student conference (E)racing Theory, (En)gendering Praxis at the University of California in Irvine. The conference is going to be on March 2nd and 3r of 2017. The paper he will be presenting is "Queening the Intersection: Using Drag Rhetoric and Intersectional Theory in Critical Composition Pedagogy."


Current MARC students- Emily Rybarski, Arielle Solcher, and Arun Raman will be presenting on a panel with Dr. Jaime Mejia at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder, Colorado. The conference will be October 19th- 21st of 2017. The title of their panel is "Community Writing Pedagogies: From Pre-Revolutionary Foundations to Contemporary FYC Applications."