Jul 15, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication, School of

Michael Smith, Director
Phone: (540) 568-6004
Email: smithmx@jmu.edu
Location: Harrison Hall, Room 2252
Website: http://www.jmu.edu/wrtc/index.shtml

L. Burton, M. Hawthorne, S. Lunsford, S. O’Connor, K. Schick, M. Smith, T. Zimmerman

Associate Professors
S. Aley, J. Almjeld, A. Crow, J. Featherstone, S. Ghiaciuc, E. Gumnior, M. Klein, S. McCarthy, C. Molloy, A. Parrish, E. Pass, J. Zimmerman

Assistant Professors
H. Comfort, L. De Hertogh,  V. Rouillon, L. Schubert

C. Allen, M. Hickman, K. Jefferson, C. Martin, K. McDonnell, C. Radcliffe

Mission Statement

The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication is a community committed to preparing its students — both writers and technical and scientific communicators — for lives of enlightened, global citizenship.


The goals of WRTC are to help students:

  • Develop into accomplished writers and editors.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of communication based upon the principles of rhetoric.
  • Develop proficiency in critical thinking, technological and analytical skills.
  • Create for themselves an area of expertise applicable to work as professional communicators.

Career Opportunities

In the WRTC major, students learn the kinds of research, analytical and reasoning skills that will allow them to become successful professionals in a wide range of fields. WRTC graduates can expect career opportunities in writing, editing or production positions with a variety of business, educational or industry employers, including the computer hardware and software industry, law firms, journalism, health care providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, education, engineering companies, publishing houses, environmental organizations, not-for-profit or political organizations, and technical translation groups of multinational corporations.

Professional Activities and Organizations


The WRTC internship is a requirement for all B.A. and B.S. students. It allows students to utilize the preparation that they received from their WRTC coursework to design, write, edit and produce professional documents for internship providers in academia, business, industry and government. Information about internships may be obtained through the WRTC website.

RhetTech Journal

RhetTech is the newest, student-run, online journal in WRTC.  It aims to publish high-quality compositions in a variety of genres from students working in the disciplines of writing, rhetoric and technical communication. RhetTech is created and managed by students enrolled in WRTC 328 . These practicum students develop the criteria used to evaluate essays, read and discuss each submission, and work individually with winning essayists to prepare their work for publication.


Pre-law at JMU is not a major, minor or concentration, but a number of WRTC students elect to pursue law school after graduation. The director of WRTC serves the College of Arts and Letters as a pre-law adviser and can assist students in selecting courses that will best provide the intellectual challenge and skills necessary for success in law school.

STC Student Chapter

The Society for Technical Communication offers a unique opportunity for members to seek recognition for their work and obtain professional contacts. STC is the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. The Society’s members span the field of the technical communication profession from students and academics to practitioners and managers.

The James Madison University STC Student Chapter was established in the fall of 1999, offering students a venue for exploring networking and applied skills.

Service to the University

Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies

WRTC faculty are active participants in creating and sustaining the interdisciplinary liberal studies (IDLS) major for teacher education students, K-8.

Honors College

WRTC faculty regularly offer Honors seminars.

Madison Writing Awards

The Madison Writing Awards (MWA) is a university-wide competition that celebrates writing across the curriculum in all undergraduate academic programs, regardless of medium and genre, from traditional papers to multimodal productions. These awards reflect the commitment of James Madison University, the College of Arts and Letters, and the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication to prepare students for educated and enlightened global citizenship through the outlets of writing and rhetoric. The MWA biennial awards ceremony features a showcase of winning pieces as well as the presentation of cash prizes.