John Duffy

John Duffy 2020

Professor of English

Specialty: Ethics, rhetoric, literacy, writing pedagogy

Degrees: BA, Boston College; MA, University College, Dublin; MA, Columbia University; PhD, University of Wisconsin

John Duffy has published on the ethics of writing, the rhetoric of disability, and the historical development of literacy in cross-cultural contexts. In his most recent book, Provocations of Virtue: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writinghe examines the ethical dimensions of teaching writing in a post-truth world. John is co-editor of 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. He has published essays in CCC, College English, Rhetoric Review, JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics, and elsewhere. John 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

  • Why I teach the much-debated 1619 Project—despite its flaws.” Answer Sheet, The Washington Post, June 14, 2021.
  • After Plato: Ethics, Rhetoric, and Writing Studies. Duffy, J. and L. Agnew (eds.). Utah State/University of Colorado Press, 2020.
  • “Toward a Common Tongue: Virtue Ethics and the Writing Classroom.” In After Plato: Ethics, Rhetoric, and Writing Studies. Duffy, J. and L. Agnew (eds.).  Logan, UT: Utah State/University of Colorado Press, 244-260, 2020.
  • “Response to Jeffrey Klausman.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Volume 47, Number 4, May 2020. 409-410. 
  • Provocations of Virtue: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writing. Utah State University Press, 2019.
  • Ethical Rhetoric in Unethical Times: Five Strategies for the Writing Classroom.” Teacher-Scholar-Activist. April 30, 2019.
  • “The Impossible Virtue: Teaching Tolerance.” Rhetoric Review. Volume 37, 2018-Issue 4, 364-370. Published online, 10 September 2018. Print publication, October 2018
  • Post-Truth and First-Year Writing.” Inside Higher Ed. May 8, 2017
  • "The Good Writer: Virtue Ethics and the Teaching of Writing.College English. Volume 79, Number 3, 2017. 229-250.


Recent Talks

  • “Teaching Argument as a Virtuous Practice.” Invited Speaker. 2021 Interdisciplinary Monthly Online Speaker Series on the Ethics of Argumentation. March 5, 2021.
  • “Beyond Good Manners: Promoting Civil Conversations on Issues that Divide Us.” Invited PanelistBridging the Divide Series, University of Notre Dame, September 30, 2020. 
  • “Habits of the Heart: How to Argue as a Decent Human Being.” Invited Speaker. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. October 31, 2019.
  • "What We Teach When We Teach Writing: Writing Instruction as a Moral Practice” Invited Speaker. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. October 31, 2019.
  • “Teaching Ethical Writing in Unethical Times.” Invited Speaker. Rhetoric Society of America, Purdue Chapter, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. November 10, 2017.
  • “Ethics and the Ethical Writer.” Invited Speaker. St. Mary’s College, South Bend, IN. November 3, 2017.
  • “The Character of Argument: Ethics in the College Classroom.” Invited Speaker. United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO. October 31, 2017.
  • “Toward a Common Language: Teaching Ethical Argument in the Disciplines.” Invited Speaker. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. August 30, 2017.
  • “Sites of Resistance: Teaching Writing in a Post-Truth Culture.” Invited Speaker. St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY. August 31, 2017.
  • “The Futures of College Writing.” Invited Panelist. Symposium Sponsored by the University of Denver Writing Program, University of Denver, Denver, CO. June 15, 2017.
  • “Radical Humilities: Post-Truth, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writing.” Keynote Speaker. Annual Conference on the Teaching of Writing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. April 7, 2017.
  • “As a Matter of Fact: Ethical Writing in a Post-Truth Culture.” Invited Speaker. Belmont University, Nashville, TN. February 20, 2017.


Contact Information
338 Decio Hall
(574) 631-9796

Postal address
Department of English
233 Decio Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556