Robert E. Terrill

Robert E. Terrill

Professor, English

Director of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication


  • Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1996
  • M.A., University of Arkansas, 1992
  • B.A., San Jose State University, 1984

About Robert E. Terrill

I participate in a long tradition of rhetorical criticism understood as a project of making public discourse available as civic equipment, a tradition articulated, for example, by Isocrates, Quintilian, and Kenneth Burke. My work is animated by an effort to enable and encourage active participation in public life through the close study of exemplars.

I have been particularly interested in African American public address, in part because circumstances often demand that marginalized rhetors be especially inventive as they address the limitations and exclusions that bar access to full citizenship.

A natural outgrowth of these intellectual commitments has been an interest in pedagogy, and in particular the role that training in rhetoric might play in the liberal arts and in civic education. In this work, I explore the continuing relevance of ancient rhetorical theory for analyzing, critiquing, and intervening in contemporary civic culture.