Orange Alert

Lois Agnew

Lois Agnew

Lois Agnew

Interim Dean of A&S, Professor


A&S Administration
A&S Dean's Cabinet
Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition
210 Tolley Humanities Building


Ph.D., 1999, Texas Christian University

Research and Teaching Interests

History of rhetoric; classical rhetoric; British rhetorical theory; composition theory and pedagogy; rhetoric and philosophy; history of English studies

As a scholar

My work in the history of rhetoric begins with the assumption that rhetorical theories inevitably maintain a reciprocal relationship with the cultures from which they emerge. Although rhetorical theories demonstrate common areas of concern across time, they also reflect the perspectives of specific times and places. I am convinced that cultivating a sensitive understanding of history can not only enhance our understanding of past thought, but can also sharpen our critical awareness of the contemporary challenges that continue to shape rhetoric's development.

Major themes and current research

I am interested in exploring ways in which assumptions about rhetoric's civic function change in response to particular social concerns. This interest is reflected in my current work on a book-length manuscript that examines the influence of Stoic ethics on British rhetorical theory across several centuries. In this manuscript, I argue that British appropriations of the Stoic ideal of sensus communis reflect an ongoing effort to create social stability and to resolve the tension between goals of individual self-interest and the public welfare.

I am also continuing my study of nineteenth-century British rhetorical theory, with the goal of considering how social and political changes in the middle of the century bring about a change in the vocabulary by which rhetoric is defined--without eliminating the importance of rhetoric in British society.

Recent Publications

Thomas De Quincey: British Rhetoric’s Romantic Turn, Rhetoric in the Modern Era Series, co-edited by Arthur E. Walzer and Edward Schiappa, Southern Illinois University Press, 2012.

“Outward, Visible Propriety”: Stoic Philosophy and Eighteenth-Century British Rhetorics. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008.

“Rhetorical History and the Octalogs: A Retrospective.” Introduction and Editor. Rhetoric Review 30.3 (2011): 237-57.

“Octalog III: The Politics of Historiography in 2010.” Article co-edited and introduction co-authored with Laurie Gries and Zosha Stuckey. Rhetoric Review 30.2 (2011) 109-34.

“Rhetoric, Ethos, & Unease: Re-negotiation of the ‘Normal’ in the Classroom & on the Quad.” Co-authored with Zosha Stuckey. Open Words 5.1 (Spring, 2011): 15-27.

“Teaching Propriety: Unlocking the Mysteries of ‘Political Correctness.’” College Composition and Communication 60.4 (2009): 746-64.

“‘The Day Belongs to the Students’: Expanding Epideictic’s Civic Function.” Rhetoric Review 27.2 (2008): 147-64.

“It Was a Gift to Join This Community”

(July 6, 2022)

A conversation with A&S Interim Dean Lois Agnew.

Syracuse Professors to Receive Graduate Teaching Awards

(April 27, 2015)

Lois Agnew, Horace Campbell will be feted by A&S