Laura Wilder

Laura Wilder

Associate Professor
Department of English


Humanities 349

PhD, University of Texas at Austin
MFA, University of Iowa

Photograph of Dr. Laura Wilder

Laura Wilder joined the faculty of the English Department in 2005. Her book, Rhetorical Strategies and Genre Conventions in Literary Studies: Teaching and Writing in the Disciplines, contributes to rhetoric and composition scholarship, specifically its “Writing across the Curriculum” (WAC) and “Writing in the Disciplines” (WID) strands, by examining the rhetorical and pedagogical practices of literary scholars. In this book Wilder contends that, though their work has greatly transformed over the past century, is fissured by diverse theoretical approaches, and eschews rigid rhetorical conventions, literary scholars, like other disciplinary specialists, tacitly share a distinct set of rhetorical strategies for effective argumentation which support the production of new knowledge. This project explores the often unacknowledged role of these argumentative conventions in the undergraduate literature classroom. Wilder argues that making these conventions explicit can benefit students and the discipline, which needs the new insights diverse students bring. To develop these claims Wilder applies a combination of rhetorical analysis and ethnographic and experimental methodologies. This commitment to methodological pluralism enables her to explore the complex social pressures of history and hierarchy on the production of scholarly discourse. In 2014, Rhetorical Strategies and Genre Conventions in Literary Studies: Teaching and Writing in the Disciplines received the Research Impact Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication. This award honors an empirical research publication in the previous two years that most advances the mission of the organization or the needs of the profession.

Seeking to translate this research for application in classrooms, Professor Wilder has written a textbook with Professor Joanna Wolfe of Carnegie Mellon University titled Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing. She is also working with Professor Robert Yagelski on a descriptive study of entering college students’ writing and, with funding from a CCCC Research Initiative Grant, an interview study of the impact of introductory writing courses on students' experiences in college and beyond. With recent UA graduate Janelle Adsit, Professor Wilder is also investigating possible relationships between creative writing and rhetorical instruction though a nationwide survey of creative writing instructors. In 2015, Professor Wilder was awarded the University at Albany President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Recent Journal Articles by Professor Wilder

“Tangled Roots.” College Composition and Communication 66.3 (2015): 501–506.

“Knowing What We Know about Writing in the Disciplines: A New Approach to Teaching for Transfer in FYC.” Co-authored with Joanna Wolfe and Barrie Olson. The WAC Journal 25 (2014): 42–77.

“Sharing the Tacit Rhetorical Knowledge of the Literary Scholar: The Effects of Making Disciplinary Conventions Explicit in Undergraduate Writing about Literature Courses.” Co-authored with Joanna Wolfe. Research in the Teaching of English 44.2 (2009): 170-209.

“‘Into the Laboratories of the University’: A Rhetorical Analysis of the First Publication of the Modern Language Association.” Rhetoric Review. 25.2 (2006): 162-184.

"'The Rhetoric of Literary Criticism' Revisited: Mistaken Critics, Complex Contexts, and Social Justice." Written Communication 22.1 (2005): 76-119.

“‘Get Comfortable with Uncertainty’: A Study of the Conventional Values of Literary Analysis in an Undergraduate Literature Course.” Written Communication 19.1 (2002): 175-221.


Recent Courses

ENG 205z Introduction to Writing in English Studies

ENG 355 Studies in Film: The Rhetoric and Ethics of Documentary Film and Reality TV

ENG 360y Tutoring and Writing

ENG 402z Advanced Writing Workshop: The Progymnasmata

ENG 450y Topics in Writing Studies: “Expertise” in Reading and Writing

ENG 521 Composition Theory: Writing across the Curriculum

ENG 522 The History of Rhetoric

ENG 583 The History of English Studies

ENG 621 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition

ENG 770 Teaching Writing and Literature