Rachel McCabe, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
School of Arts and Sciences, English

I study Composition and Rhetoric, with specializations in reading studies, visual rhetoric, and affect theory. My scholarship focuses on shock and discomfort as productive responses to the reading process. These moments slow readers down and help them pay attention to the rhetorical features of the text, which can improve their writing. My courses consider the ways rhetorical knowledge can shape visual, textual, and oral communication. As Director of Writing, I’m excited to help students learn more about the writing conventions of a number of genres including traditional academic essays, multimodal presentations, and professional documents.

My publications can be found in journals including Composition Studies, Pedagogy, Compass, and Studies in Documentary Film. Articles and presentations have applied rhetorical analysis to a range of texts such as the short stories of Flannery O’Connor, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and the pussyhats worn during the Women’s March in 2017.

Areas of Expertise

  • Composition
  • Rhetoric
  • Affect Theory
  • Film


  • Ph.D. Indiana University, Bloomington


  • ENG110: College Writing I
  • ENG210: College Writing II
  • ENG 303: Writing for Business
  • ENG 318: Advanced Composition and the Writing Process
  • FYS 130: Rhetorics of American Subcultures


“Practices for Addressing Affective Difficulty in the Writing Classroom,” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, vol. 22, forthcoming 2022.

“Cinematic Reproduction as Multimodal Composition in First-Year Composition,” Spring 2021, Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching.

 Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Affective Responses to the True Crime Documentary,” Spring 2021, Studies in Documentary Film, doi 10.1080/17503280.2021.1874236.

“Learning Institutional Ecologies for Inventive Collaboration in Writing Center/Classroom Collaboration,” Fall 2020, vol. 48, num. 3, Composition Studies.

“Get Ready with Me,” Textshop Experiments, Summer 2018, Multimodal production and Artist’s Statement.


“First-Year Composition and the Difficulty of ‘Safe Spaces’ in the #MeToo Era,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, March 2019, Pittsburgh, PA.

“Cinematic Creation in First-Year Composition: Using Multimodal Composition to Further Written Analy­sis,” Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference, July 2018, Sacramento, CA.

“‘On Wednesdays we wear pussy hats’: Contemporary Fashion & Protest,” Rhetoric Society of America Conference, June 2018, Minneapolis, MN.

“Cinematic Composition and Multilingual Learners,” Computers and Writing Conference, May 2018, Fairfax, VA.

“Shock and Awe: Rhetorical Utilization of Affective Moments in Writing Program Administrative Work,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, March 2018, Kansas City, MO.