Jeffry Davis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English
On Faculty since 1990

Office: Blanchard Hall 313
Phone: (630)752-5786


Ph.D. English, Language, Literacy and Rhetoric, University of Illinois at Chicago

M.A. English, Composition Studies and American Literature, Northern Illinois University

B.A., Wheaton College

About Jeffry Davis

Professionally, I spend much of my time and energy writing and teaching about education; in particular, I focus on the literacy skills that are central to the liberal arts: reading, writing, speaking and listening. As the Director of the Writing Center at Wheaton, I enjoy empowering students to write clearly and persuasively, helping them to read their own work with a critical eye for revision. [In addition, directing the Interdisciplinary Studies program allows me to engage with students whose particular interests involve them in a multiplicity of academic fields to attain their interdisciplinary goals.] Preparing college students to teach English also proves to be a central preoccupation for me at Wheaton; therefore, I supervise student teachers in the public schools.

Personally, I enjoy hard manual labor, whether it involves splitting wood for the fireplace or planting flowers in my garden. As Wendell Berry writes in The Unsettling of America, "While we live our bodies are moving particles of earth, joined inextricably both to the soil and to the bodies of other living creatures." Not unrelated, I often listen to country music, especially while driving my pickup truck. The lyrics of Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Alan Jackson are a few of my favorites. Finally, my wife Ruth and I love to eat Indian and Vietnamese food.

Courses Taught

  • ENG 324 - Methods of Teaching English
  • ENGL 101 - Classics of Western Literature
  • ENGL 215 - Classical and Early British Literature
  • ENGL 494 - Senior Seminar
  • ENGW 103 - Composition and Research
  • ENGW 214 - Rhetorical Writing
  • ENGW 444 - Special Topics in Writing
  • ENGW 471 - Composition Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy
  • ENGW 494 - Senior Seminar in Writing
  • ENGW 495 - Writing Projects
  • ENGW 496 - Writing Internship

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Member of the Research Network Forum, CCCC
  • Chair of Christianity and Literature Publication Review Committee (1998)
  • Member of the Academy of American Poets
  • Member of the Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition
  • Member of the National Council of Teachers of English
  • Member of the National Writing Centers Association
  • Member of the Rhetoric Society of America
  • Member of the Albert Camus Society of the United States


Much of my research concerns itself with Quintilian, the first-century Roman teacher of rhetoric. I believe that the discipline of English finds its roots in the rhetorical tradition, which historically emphasizes more than a narrow focus on belles lettres. In this light, English study ideally should fit one to use words well -- whether written, spoken, or read -- in a variety of situations and circumstances, for purposes in the academy and beyond. Consequently, my work embraces and promotes liberal arts learning, which has as its end the development of whole people who can serve the common good.


"Connected' Writing Instruction: Adapting Quintilian’s Pedagogy to the College Classroom" (PDF)

"Cultures in Conflict: Quintilian’s Conversion by Saint Jerome" (PDF)

"Leaping Into the Personal Narrative: A Complex Construction of the Past and Present" (PDF)

"Pitching a Tent, Welcoming a Traveler, and Moving On: Toward A Nomadic View of the Writing Center" (PDF)

"Reading for Life" (PDF)


"Teaching With An End In Mind." A week-long faculty seminar on education, conducted two consecutive years at Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis: summer, 2002-03.

""Facilitas' for Living Well: The Four Language Skills for the Liberal Arts Student." A paper presented at the National Faculty Leadership Conference, Chicago: June, 2002.

"The First Account of a Rhetorician Writing: Quintilian's Composing Narrative." A paper presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Denver: March, 2001.

"Profane Writing for Sacred Purposes: Jerome's Use of the Institutio oratoria for Catechization." A paper presented at the Midwest Conference on Christianity and Literature: Intersections of the Sacred and the Profane. Chicago: March, 2001.

"Doing My Own Assignment: A Personal Narrative." A paper and presented at the Annual Conference of the Illinois Philological Association. Chicago: April, 2001

Facilitas for Working and Living Well: The Four Language Skills for the Liberal Arts Student." A lecture given at the annual meeting of the Illinois Small College Placement Association, Wheaton: March, 1999.

"Forming Ethical Students and Responsible Citizens: Quintilian's Aim Through Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening." A paper presented for the Center for Applied Christian Ethics Workshop, Wheaton: March, 1999.

"The End of Liberal Arts Education in America": The Pew Younger Scholars Fall Retreat. A series of eight talks presented at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia: November, 1998.

Helpful Information

Guidance for Students of English 
Resources for Teaching English 
The Wheaton College Writing Center
Requesting a Recommendation or Reference from Dr. Davis

Media Center