John Duffy


Associate Professor

Specialty: Literacy, rhetoric

Degrees: B.A., Boston College; M.A., University College, Dublin; M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin

John Duffy is the Francis O’Malley Director of the University Writing Program. He has published on the ethics of writing, the rhetoric of disability, and the historical development of literacy and rhetoric in cross-cultural contexts. He recently co-edited the essay collection Literacy, Economy, and Power, and his book Writing from These Roots was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Book Award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Duffy is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.  He teaches courses in rhetoric, writing, and literature.

Recent Writing

  • “Ethical Dispositions: A Discourse for Rhetoric and Composition.” Forthcoming 2014. Journal of Advanced Composition.
  • “Writing Involves Ethical Choices.” In Adler-Kassner, L and E. Wardle. Forthcoming 2014. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts in Writing Studies. Logan: Utah State.
  • Literacy, Economy, and Power: Writing and Research after Literacy in American Lives. Eds. John Duffy, Julie Nelson Christoph, Eli Goldblatt, Nelson Graff, Rebecca S. Nowacek, and Bryan Trabold. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2014.
  • “The Ethics of Metaphor." Chronicle of Higher Education: TheConversation. December 2, 2013.
  • “Beyond Civility.” The Irish Rover. January 26, 2013.
  • “Virtuous Arguments.” Inside Higher Ed. March 16, 2012.
  • Editor (with Melanie Yergeau), Special Issue: Disability and Rhetoric, Disability Studies Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 3 (2011)
  • “The Pathos of ‘Mindblindness’: Autism, Science, and Sadness in ‘Theory of Mind’ Narratives” (with Rebecca Dorner). Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies (5.2): 201-215. 2011.
  • Writing from These Roots: The Historical Development of Literacy in a Hmong- American Community. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007.
  • “Recalling the Letter: The Uses of Oral Testimony in Historical Studies of Literacy.” Written Communication 24.1 (2007): 84-107.
  • "'Primitives' and Pencils: The Social Construction of Preliteracy." International Journal of Learning, 2005.

Recent Talks

  • "Rhetorical Virtues: Toward an Ethical Public Discourse." Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, Notre Dame, IN. April 22, 2014.
  • "Would You Fight for Prince Harry? (And Other Problems in the Rhetorical Tradition)." Eastern Correctional Facility, Wawarsing, Ulster County, NY. April 11, 2014.
  • "Moral Imaginations: The Work of a University Writing Program." Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. April 7, 2014.
  • “Virtuous Words: Argument and Ethics in the University.” Indiana University-South Bend, South Bend, IN, February 9, 2012.
  • “After Arizona: First Year Writing and a Rhetoric of Ethical Practice.” Writing Democracy Conference, Texas A& M-Commerce, Commerce, TX, March 9, 2011. Keynote Speaker.
  • “The Reaches of Literacy:  Hmong Americans Reading and Writing.” University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, April 18, 2010.
  • “Of Voices in the Fortress: Autism, Rhetoric, and the Notion of ‘Mindblindness.’” The Corbett Lecture, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, April 1, 2010.
  • “Everyday Rhetoric: Argument, Torture, and National Public Radio.” Center for Writing Studies’ Colloquium Series, University of Illinois, February 18, 2010
  • “The Problems of Hmong ‘Preliteracy.’” Hmong Literacies Speaker Series, University of Minnesota. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, February 25, 2010.


Contact Information
338 Decio Hall
(574) 631-9796

Postal address
Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556