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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature

Faculty and Staff Directory

Chris Holcomb

Director of First-Year English
Department of English Language and Literature

Phone Number: (803) 777-2253
Office: HUO 514


PhD, University of Texas, 1995

Areas of Specialization 

   History of Rhetoric
   Stylistics and Discourse Analysis
   Humor Studies

Recently Taught Courses 

ENGL 461    The Teaching of Writing
ENGL 790    Introduction to Composition Studies
ENGL 792    Classical Rhetoric

Current Research Projects 

My current research continues to examine prose style as a medium for performance and resource for negotiating social meaning. Drawing from ancient and early modern rhetorics and from more recent developments in sociolinguistic studies of language variation, my research views style as an array of cultural repertoires that speakers draw from (and sometimes re-purpose) not only to perform (or fashion new) identities but also to orchestrate their relationships with their audiences and the immediate and broader contexts they both inhabit. In pursuit of these more general aims, I'm currently at work on a book-length study, Motives of Style, that examines the range of meanings ascribed to verbal form and the processes by (and the contexts in) which these acts of ascription occur (an article-length piece by the same title offers a preview of this project and is currently under review).

Selected Publications 

   Understand Language Through Humor (co-authored with Stanley Dubinky). Cambridge University Press, 2011.
   Performing Prose: The Study and Practice of Style in Composition (co-authored with M. Jimmie Killingsworth). Southern University Press, 2010.
   "'Anyone Can Be President': Figures of Speech, Cultural Forms, and Performance." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 37.1 (2007): 71-96.
   "Performative Stylistics and the Question of Academic Prose." Rhetoric Review 24.2 (2005): 188-206.
   "'The Crown of All Our Study': Improvisation in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 31 (2001): 53-72.
   Mirth Making: The Rhetorical Discourse on Jesting in Early Modern England. University of South Carolina Press, 2001.