Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Spencer Schaffner

Associate Professor of English and Writing Studies

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PhD, University of Washington, 2005

Teaching Interests

web writing, graphic narratives, visual composition, ecocriticism, environmental criticism, writing pedagogy


English 380: Writing in a Digital World / English 300: Graphic Novels / English 481: Composition Theory and Practice / English 482: Writing Technologies / English 505: Intro to Writing Studies / English 582: Genre Theory / English 582: Discourse Analysis / English 584: Rhetoric and Social / Engagement / English 584: Writing for the Web, / See course websites at

Research Interests

born-digital scholarship, environmental criticism, comics and graphic narratives, writing studies, brain-based writing disorders, writing pedagogy

Selected Publications


  • Schaffner, Spencer. Binocular Vision: the Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011.

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Book Contributions

  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Mockumentaries Meet New Media." Too Bold for the Box Office: A Study in Mockumentary. Ed. Cynthia Miller. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2012.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Ecosee: Image, Rhetoric, and Nature." Field Guides to Birds: Images and Image/Text Positioned As Reference. Comp. Sean Morey. Ed. Sid Dobrin. New York: SUNY UP, 2008. 95-111.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "The Five-Paragraph Essay: Friend or Foe?." A Closer Look: The Writer's Reader. Ed. Anis Bawarshi and Sidney Dobrin. New York: McGraw Hill, 2003. 784-787.

Journal Articles

  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Biocultural Diversity and the Problem of the Superabundant Individual." RCC Perspectives forthcoming (2013):
  • Prior, Paul, and Spencer Schaffner. "Bird Identification as a Family of Activities: Motives, Mediating Artifacts, and Laminated Assemblages." Ethos: Journal for the Society of Psychological Anthropology 39.1 (2011): 51-70.
  • McDowell, Jacqueline , and Spencer Schaffner. "Football, it’s a Man’s Game: An Exploration of Gendered Discourse in 'The Gender Bowl'." Discourse & Society 22.5 (2011): 1-19.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Environmental Sporting: Birding at Superfund Sites, Landfills, and Sewage Ponds." Journal of Sport and Social Issues 33.3 (2009): 206-230.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Response: Ursula Heise's 'Ecocriticism and the Transnational Turn in American Studies." American Literary History 20.1-2 (2008): 405-409.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Projection: Grounding the Writing Major in the Socio-Graphemic Approach." Composition Studies: Special Issue on The Writing Major 35.1 (2007): 55-56.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Strategic Simulations." JAC 47.3 (2007): 717-730.


  • Schaffner, Spencer, and Brandy Parris. "A Cinematic Critique as Public Humanities." Inside Higher Education. 2005. 1 Nov. 2005. <>.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. "Birding with the First American Field Guides to Birds." Birding. American Birding Association, 2005. 90-93.



  • Schaffner, Spencer. Rev. of Sensualities/Textualities and Technologies: Writing of the Body in 21st Century Performance. Edited by Susan Broadhurst and . Theatre Journal. (in press), comp. Josephine Machon. , ed. Susan Broadhurst. Theatre Journal (2012):
  • Schaffner, Spencer. Rev. of Writing Genres, by Amy DevittEnculturation 5.2 (2004): 1 Jun. 2004. <>.
  • Schaffner, Spencer. Rev. of A Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music, by F. Schuyler Mathews (published in 1904) (2002): 30 Dec. 2002. <>.