Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Ph.D., University of Michigan (English Language and
M.A., Columbia University (English and Comparative
A.B., Brandeis University (English and American
Professor of English and linguistics,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984-present.
Head, Department of English, University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998-2003.
Acting Head, Department of English,
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997-98.
Rhetoric, University of Illinois, 1985-97.
Director, Writing Outreach Workshop,
Univ. of Illinois, 1985-88.
Professor, Campus Honors Faculty, Univ.
of Illinois, 1988-present.
Professor, College of Education, UIUC,
Associate Professor of English and
Linguistics, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1981-84.
Assistant Professor of English and
Linguistics, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1975-81.
Assistant Professor of English, The
City College of CUNY, 1973-74.
Assistant Professor of English, Eastern
Illinois University, 1971-73.
Committee on Public Language, National Council of Teachers of English,
Committee on Public Policy, Conference on College Composition and
Board of Advisors for the television series “Do You Speak American?” with
Member, PMLA Advisory Committee,
editorial advisory board, Liverpool Studies in Language and Discourse, 1993-present.
MLA Delegate Assembly, 1998-2003.
MLA Division on Language and Society, 2001-02
Commission on Language, National Council of Teachers of English, 1984-87;
of the American Dialect Society (monograph series) 1984-93.
Committee on Language and the Schools, Linguistic Society of America,
Editor, Publication of the American Dialect Society, 1982-84.
Fellowships and grants:
Faculty Fellow, Program for the
Study of Cultural Values and Ethics, Univ. of Illinois, Spring 1992.
National Endowment for the
Humanities Fellowship, calendar year 1989.
Newberry Library National Endowment
for the Humanities Fellowship, 1988-89 (offered, not held).
IBM Project Excel Grant C-41,
1986-87: “Computer Analysis of Student Writing.”
Associate, Center for Advanced
Study, University of Illinois 1984-85.
Fulbright Lecturer, University of
Poitiers, France, 1978-79.
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study,
University of Illinois, 1978 (offered, not held).
University of Illinois Research
Board grants, multiple years, 1978 - present.
Books and Monographs:
- A Better Pencil: Readers, writers and the digital revolution. New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009 (puts our complex, still-evolving hate-love relationship with computers and the internet into perspective, describing how the digital revolution influences our reading and writing practices, and how the latest technologies differ from what came before).
to Home Language Repair (questions, answers, and essays on the English language). Urbana: National Council of Teachers
of English (1994).
English-Only Question: An Official Language for Americans? (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1990; paper ed., 1992), pp. XXI + 226. Over 25 reviews and notices, including The
Washington Post Book World, Education Week, Jerusalem Post, TLS, Modern Language
Grammar and Other Essays on the English Vocabulary (Urbana, IL: National Council of
Teachers of English, 1989), pp. IX + 240.
- Grammar and Gender (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1986; paper ed., 1987), pp. IX + 249. Over 25 reviews and notices, including TLS,
Psychology Today, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Modern Language Review,
and Good Taste: Reforming the American Language (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1982; paper ed., 1984), pp. IX + 263. Over 25 reviews and notices, including The
New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, American
Literature, Journal of American Studies, The Times (of London), Studies in the
American Renaissance; picked as an Editor’s Choice, New York Times Book Review.
Native: The Regeneration of Saxon English. Publication of The American Dialect Society, No. 69 (University: University of
Alabama Press, 1982), pp. IX + 63.
Grammar and Diachronic English Syntax (The Hague: Mouton, 1974), pp. 132.
Supreme Court amicus brief:
BRIEF FOR PROFESSORS OF LINGUISTICS AND ENGLISH DENNIS E. BARON, Ph.D., RICHARD W. BAILEY, Ph.D. AND JEFFREY P. KAPLAN, Ph.D. IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS, in the case of DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Petitioners, v. DICK ANTHONY HELLER, Respondent (Supreme Court of the United States, 07-290), Jan. 2008.
- "Language and education: The more things change." In Contours of English, ed. Anne Curzan and Michael Adams. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, forthcoming.
- “The New
Technologies of the Word.” In Keith Walters and Michal Brody, eds., What’s
Language Got to Do with It?” New York: W. W. Norton, 2005, pp. 136-51.
- “Don’t Make
English Official—Ban It Instead.” [rpt. of 1996 essay]. In Keith Walters
and Michal Brody, eds., What’s Language Got to Do with It?” New York: W. W. Norton, 2005, pp.
Everything You Learned About Writing.” In Chris Anson, ed., The WAC
Casebook: Scenes for Faculty Reflection and Program Development. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2003,
Legislation and Language Abuse: American Language Policy through the 1990s.” In Language Ideologies: Critical Perspectives on the Official English Movement, vol. 2: History, Theory and Policy,
ed. Roseann D. Gonzalez with Ildiko Melis (Urbana: NCTE, and Lawrence Earlbaum
Assoc., 2001), pp. 5-29.
- “From Pencils to
Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies.” In Passions, Pedagogies and 21st-Century
Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe (Logan: Utah State Univ. Press and the National
Council of Teachers of English, 1999), pp. 15-33. [This is the lead essay in
the book.] Rpt. in Ellen Cushman, Eugene R. Kintgen, Barry M. Kroll, and Mike
Rose, eds., Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s,
2001. Pp. 70-84.
- “An Official
Language.” Rpt. (from The English Only Question) in Writing About Diversity: An
Argument Reader and Guide, ed. Irene L. Clark (Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1994), pp. 284-302.
- “Language Is the
Enemy.” Rpt. (from Declining Grammar) in Dimensions of Language, ed. Boyd Davis. (New York:
Macmillan, 1993), pp. 427-31.
Culture, and Society,” in Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and
Joseph Gibaldi. 2nd ed. (New York: Modern Language Association, 1992), pp.
- “Federal English
and the Constitution,” rpt. in Language Loyalties, ed. James Crawford. Chicago:
Univ. of Chicago Press (1992), pp. 36-40.
- “The Legal
Status of English in Illinois: Case Study of a Multilingual State,” in Not
Only English: Affirming America’s Multilingual Heritage, ed. Harvey A. Daniels (Urbana:
National Council of Teachers of English, 1990), pp. 13-26.
- “Watching Our
Grammar: The English Language for English Teachers,” in On Literacy and Its
Teaching: Issues in English Education, ed. Gail Hawisher and Anna Soter (Albany: State Univ. of New
York Press, 1990), pp. 208-23. [Review: Sharon J. Hamilton, College English 55 (1993): 794-800.
- “Watching Our
Grammar” (rpt. from Grammar and Good Taste), in The Story of English: Study Guide and Reader (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1986).
English, Composition, and the Academic Establishment,” 1975; rpt. in Readings
in Applied English Linguistics, ed. Harold B. Allen and Michael Linn, 3rd. ed. (New York:
Alfred Knopf, 1982), pp. 436-43.
Recent articles and essays:
- "It's all your fault: Who's to blame for the literacy crisis?" College Composition and Communication. Sept. 2009.
- “I’m not really
a professor, I just play one on TV.” Inside Higher Education, Oct. 14, 2005.
- “The College
Board’s New Essay Reverses Decades of Progress Toward Literacy.” Chronicle
of Higher Education. May
6, 2005. Pp. B14-15; rpt. in Newsletter of the Northeast Association of
Pre-Law Advisors, Fall
- “The New
Nativism: Language Policy and Linguistic Ideology in the United States.” Ryukyus
Journal of American Studies (April, 2005): 1-12.
- “Not Searching
for Skeletons.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 14, 2005, C1;4.
- “The Tongue Who
Would Be King.” Science and Spirit, November/December 2004, pp. 28-33.
- “The President’s
Reading Lesson.” Education Week, Sept. 8, 2004, p. 43.
- 11 essays on
departmental administration, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2003-04.
- “It’s Just
Grammar. Whom Really Cares?” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2004, B17; rpt., Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, Adrian (Michigan) Daily Telegram, May 12, 2004.
- “No Translation
Needed: ‘Door Is Closed.’” Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2004, M5 [rpt. Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, Kansas City Star; Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Sun-News; Bryan-College Station (TX) Eagle; translated into
Finnish for Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki, Finland), March 28, 2004].
- 7 Essays on
promotion and tenure, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2002-03.
Grammar Doesn’t Lead to Better Writing.” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2003, B20.
- “I Teach
English—and I Hate Reader’s Guides.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 4, 2002, p. B5.
- “Good Grammar
and the Career Network.” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 31, 2002.
- “Language Use
and Grammar.” The September, 2002, module for “Teaching Composition,” a listserv for the composition
teaching community, published by McGraw-Hill.
- 5 essays on the
academic job search, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2001-02.
- “America Doesn’t
Know What the World Is Saying.” Op-Ed essay, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2001, A21. Rpt. Cleveland
Plain Dealer, Oct.
30, 2001, B11.
- “The End of
Linguistics: a response” letter to the editor, The American Scholar (Spring, 2001): 155-56.
- “The Official
Secrets Act in Academic Publishing.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 16, 2001, B5.
- “Literacy and
technology.” In Linda K. Shamoon, R. M. Howard, S. Jamieson, and R. A.
Schwegler, eds., Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann,
Boynton/Cook, 2000 and on CD-rom. Approx. 8 pp.
- “Ebonics and the
Politics of English.” World Englishes 19 (March, 2000): 5-19.
Impact on Writing.” Letter. Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 21, 2000, B11.
- “To Sir, or
Ma’am, with Love.” Education Week. Sept. 8, 1999, 45.
- “How to Be a
Person, Not a Number, on the U.S. Census.” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 3, 1998, B8. “Ebonics Is
Not a Panacea for Students at Risk.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 24, 1997, B4-5. Rpt. in Second-Language
Public Schools, 1997.
Work in progress:
What Writers Do (a rhetoric for first-year writers).
Recent invited lectures and conference presentations:
- “No University
Student Left Behind: Writing and the Secretary of Education’s Commission on
Higher Education.” Featured session. Conference on College Composition and
Communication. Chicago, March 2006. Podcast at www.ncte.org.
- “The Perils of
the new SAT Writing Test.” Conference on College Composition and Communication.
San Francisco. March 17, 2005.
English and the New Nativism.” Modern Language Association. Philadelphia. Dec.
- “Reading and
Writing in the Digital Age.” Invited presentation. Illinois Library Association,
Chicago, September 30, 2004.
Policies and Language Politics in the United States.” “English and Minority
Languages in the 2000 Census.” Invited lectures, Univ. of Ryukyu, Okinawa,
Japan, June, 2004.
Invited lecture, Northeastern Illinois University, April 15, 2004.
They’re Not for Everybody.” Conference on College Composition and
Communication. San Antonio, TX, March 25, 2004.
- “The New
Technologies of the Word.” Plenary lecture. International Association of World
Englishes Conference, Univ. of Illinois, October 17, 2002.
Effective Promotion Dossiers,” Provost’s Seminar, Univ. of Illinois, Sept. 7,
- “Promotion and
Tenure,” a workshop for new executive officers, Association of Departments of
English seminar, Monterey, California, June 29, 2001.
- “From Pencils to
Pixels: The New Technologies of Literacy.” Invited lecture, UC Davis, March 2,
Effective Third-Year Faculty Reviews,” Provost’s Seminar, Univ. of Illinois,
Feb. 26, 2001.
- “Other Teachers’
Students.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Minneapolis,
MN, April 15, 2000.
- “The Best Words
of the Millennium.” Modern Language Association, Chicago Il, Dec. 27, 1999.
- “Ebonics and the
Politics of Language.” Conference on Language Policy at the Millennium.
Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel; Nov. 23-25, 1999.
- “From Pencils to
Pixels: The New Technologies of Literacy.” Keynote address, Verbal Arts
Conference, University of Illinois at Springfield, April 23, 1999. Versions
given at Pennsylvania State University; Center for Advanced Study Symposium on
Literacy and Writing Systems in Asia.
- “Ebonics in the
National Media and the National Consciousness,” Modern Language Association,
San Francisco, Dec. 1998.
- “Talking the
Talk: Language Politics Coast to Coast, from Prop 227 to the Puerto Rico
Statehood Referendum,” Modern Language Association, San Francisco, Dec. 1998.
- “An Invitation
to ‘Forget Everything You Learned about Writing in High School’ or Not.”
Practice, Theory, Reflection, and Action: Transforming Classrooms, Schools, and
English Studies [NCTE], Seattle WA, June 19, 1998.
Media appearances: frequently quoted in newspapers, along with multiple appearances on radio and television each year, including CNN, NPR, CBC, BBC, Voice of America, and local statios such as . . .
- “The English
Language.” Focus 580, WILL-AM, multiple appearances each year from
- “Good English.” The Robin and Maynard Show. KQBZ-FM (Seattle), May 3, 2005.
in American English.” Interview by Avi Arditti and Roseann Skirble broadcast on
“Coast to Coast” by Voice of America (4/24/03); posted on voanews.com/wordmaster.
- “The English
Language,” The Joan Rivers Show, WOR-AM, New York, June 25, 2001.
- “The New
Oxford Dictionary of English,” “Sandy Rios Live,” WYLL-FM, Chicago, Aug. 14, 1998.
Merriam-Webster/NAACP Controversy.” WCIA TV, Champaign, Oct. 20, 1997.
English Usage,” broadcast in the series “Under Construction,” by
Merriam-Webster and Northeast Public Radio.
- “The French
Language Police,” The Howard Galganof Show, CJIT, Montreal, Sept. 22, 1997.
Legislation,” Daybreak, CBC, Montreal, Sept. 8, 1997
- “Law 101 and
Language Legislation,” The Tommy Schnumacher Show, CJAD-AM, Montreal, Sept. 8,
Newswatch, CBC-TV, Sept. 8, 1997.
- “The Ebonics
Debate,” “Penny for Your Thoughts,” WDWS-AM, Champaign, Jan. 28, 1997.
- “Ebonics,” WTOP
News Radio AM 1500 (Washington, DC), Dec. 28, 1996.
- “Ebonics,” ABC
Radio News, Dec. 28, 1996.
- “Ebonics,” WNBC-TV (Washington, DC), Dec. 27, 1996.
- “Ebonics,” NewsChannel 8 (Washington, DC), Dec. 27, 1996.
English,” Jack Cole, WJNO, ABC radio affiliate, Palm Beach, FL, Sept. 12, 1996.
Refereeing and reviewing:
Reviews: Arizona State Univ., Temple Univ., Texas A & M Univ., Louisiana
State Univ., North Carolina State Univ., Univ. of Houston.
of Grant Proposals on dialectology for the National Science Foundation, program
in linguistics, 1975-present.
of Grant Proposals in English Linguistics, University of Illinois Research
of Grant Proposals in English Linguistics, National Endowment for the
of manuscripts for JEGP, Univ. of Alabama Press, Cambridge Univ. Press, Univ. of Chicago Press,
Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Univ. of Michigan Press, Scott, Foresman, Oxford Univ.
Press, The University Press of New England, Yale University Press.
Tennessee Humanities Council public education project (traveling exhibit and
13-part radio series), “English in the American South,” funded by NEH.
promotion and tenure reviews.
Memberships in professional organizations:
Dialect Society (life member; member, Committee on New Words, 1975-82; member,
Committee on Usage, 1982-present; member, Centennial Publications Committee;
Centennial Publicity Committee; Centennial Documentaries Committee).
Language Association (member, Delegate Assembly, 1996-99).
Council of Teachers of English (member, Commission on the English Language, two
terms; Chair, Committee on Public Language, two terms).
on College Composition and Communication.
of Editors of Learned Journals, 1985-93.
Society of America; member, Committee on Language in the Schools, 1992-94.
of Writing Program Administrators
Association of Teachers of English (member, program committee, 1987-88).
- new degree program: Master of Fine Arts in Creative
- Chair, English Group, METER section
of Illinois Professional Learning Partnership (Department of Education TQE
- Director, Language and Public Policy
Reading Group, sponsored by Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.
- Joint proposal with departments of
French, Linguistics, and English as an International Language for an
international conference on Language Legislation and Linguistic Rights, funded
at $10,000, March 21-23, 1996.
- Joint proposal with Department of
Speech Communication to establish the Center for Writing Studies—funded
initially at $225,000, with $150,000 in recurring funds, including support for
5 faculty lines and graduate student support for 17 students, beginning FY
- LAS Writing
across the Curriculum Proposal, to develop writing-intensive general education
courses. Planning Grant Funded FY 1990 @ $19,000 by the Council on Teacher
Education to develop writing component for History 151.
- Planning Grant, summer 1988, to
develop proposal for new LAS undergraduate teacher education curriculum in
English, funded @ $15,000 by the Council on Teacher Education.
- Freshman English Test: proposal for
administering and grading writing sample for entering first-year students.
Recurring funds of $10,000.
- Writing Outreach
Workshop: a program of institutes and short courses to introduce Illinois high
school English teachers to computer writing instruction. Funded @ $120,000 per
Who in America
Directory of American Scholars
Who’s Where Among Writers
International Authors and Writers Who’s Who
International Linguistic Directory
Who’s Who in American Education
Who’s Who in the World
Who’s Who in the Humanities
consulting and expert witness reports and testimony for a variety of law firms on subjects including legibility, readability, document interpretation, plagiarism, trademark.
consulting for television, radio, and newspapers, including The
New York Times, Newsweek, CNN Sunday, ABC’s Nightline,
The McNeil-Lehrer Report, William Safire, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, Los Angeles Times, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Cincinnati Enquirer, Orlando Sentinel, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, Springfield (IL) Register,
WICD-TV (Champaign, IL),
consulting for numerous academic, trade and university presses.
on the Teaching of College Writing; Descriptive English Grammar; Technologies
of the Word; Writing Technologies; Technology and Literacy; New Genres of the Internet; History of the
English Language; The Nature of Standard English; Poetics of Oral Literature;
Chaucer; English linguistics; Stylistics and literary criticism; Introduction
to film; Old English; Beowulf.
Committee service, Univ. of Illinois:
Committee on Asian American Studies
American Studies Council
Force on Program Assessment and Evaluation
Information Technologies, Hewlett Group
University High School English Committee
Communications Area Committee for the Preparation of Teachers, Council on Teacher
High School Advisory Board
to Evaluate the Director of University High School
Committee for English Librarian
of Liberal Arts and Sciences Executive Committee (two terms)
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee to prepare NEH Division of
Education planning grant for revised LAS teacher education curriculum in
English and Foreign Languages
Committee on Planning and Development
to Plan the 75th Anniversary of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
on Teacher Education in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
of Education Search Committee for Specialists in Writing and in Children’s
Committee on Committees
Core Curriculum Group
Rhetoric Advisory Committee
Committee to Evaluate the Writing and Rhetoric Programs
Committee to Evaluate Curriculum in English Linguistics
Undergraduate Teaching Awards Committee
University-Community College Articulation Committee
Computer Rhetoric Planning Committee
Admissions and Financial Aid Committee
to Evaluate Curriculum in Medieval English Language and Literature
to Evaluate Curriculum in English Education
Comprehensive Examination Committee
Search Committee for Rhetoric Specialist
Committees for Medievalist (twice), Business Writer, Writing Center Director
and Associate Director, Technical Writer
to Review the Watts Report
Department Long-Range Planning Committee