Faculty Profiles


Jeffry C. Davis, Ph.D.

Professor of English; Director of Interdisciplinary Studies

On Faculty since 1990
Blanchard 313

I am a Chicago native who comes from a family that valued hard work and good stories. My teaching and writing often explore the importance of higher education, in general, and the literacy skills that are central to the liberal arts, in particular. I love meeting with students to hear about their unique God-given passions for life.

As a professor of English, I believe the lifelong practices of reading, writing, listening, and speaking will take you far, if you dedicate yourself to them. And as the director of Wheaton's nationally recognized interdisciplinary studies program, I work with students whose particular interests involve merging academic fields in order to research “wicked problems”—issues so complex that a single discipline cannot adequately address them, such as climate change, human trafficking, and political incivility.

In my spare time, I like doing projects outdoors—cutting wood for the fireplace or planting vegetables in my garden. And I am dedicated to regular personal disciplines, like keeping a journal for growth and writing lyric poems for pleasure. As Wendell Berry reminds us, "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, which reflects the culture of my Kentucky lineage.

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

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

Wheaton College
B.A., English Literature

  • Christian Vocation
  • Dramatic Literature
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Liberal Arts
  • Rhetorical Theory
  • Writing Pedagogy

Cultivating Hospitable Learning…Despite an Anxiety of the Unknown 
The Gaede Institute—Educating for the Unknown; Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA: 2023

Literature Connecting Campus and Community—Lilly Workshop 
Lilly Network Exchange Institutional Representative/Participant; Hope College, Holland, MI: 2022

The Art of Metacognition: Engaging Students in the Christian Liberal Arts  
Ouachita Baptist University Fall Faculty Retreat; Bismarck, AR: 2021

Practicing Faith and “Religious Friction”: Engaging Beliefs in the Composition Classroom
Conference on College Composition and Communication; Virtual Event: 2021

Choosing to Become Composed in Times of Change
Modern Language Association Conference; Seattle, WA: 2020

Promoting Phantasia Through Ancient Instructional Practices
Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) Conference; Chicago, IL: 2018

A Response to “C.S. Lewis’s Dymer: A Splendour in the Dark, A Tale, A Song,” by Professor Root   
The 2018-19 Hansen Lectureship at the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College; Wheaton, IL: 2018

Teaching with an End in Mind
NCCS Faculty Faith and Learning Faculty Workshop, St. Louis, MO: 2017

The Institutio Oratoria’s Composing Narrative—"In Situ"
American Society for the History of Rhetoric Conference; Atlanta, GA: 2016

Pseudo-Quintilian’s Nachlass and the Promotion of Sophistopolis
Rhetoric Society of America Conference; Atlanta, GA: 2016

Building an E-Community of Consulting Problem Solvers: Online Conversation in the Writing Center
Association for the Tutoring Profession Conference; Chicago, IL: 2016

A Parable Promoting the Pedagogy of Hospitality
Kuyers Institute on Faith and Teaching; Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI: 2015

Ethics and the Encounter of Christian Identity in the Writing Center
ECWCA Conference, University of Notre Dame; Notre Dame, IN: 2015

Embodying the Pedagogical Rhetoric of Hospitality in the Classroom
College English Association Conference; Indianapolis, IN: 2015

Juan Luis Vives on the Greatest Goods of Liberal Arts Instruction—Piety, Paper and Ink
The Gaede Institute—Liberal Arts and the Social Good; Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA: 2015

The Decline of Liberal Arts Colleges: A Loss of Interdisciplinary Diversity in Higher Education
Association of Interdisciplinary Studies; Michigan State University, Ann Arbor, MI: 2014

Quintilian’s Agonistic Account: Negotiating Personal and Political Parameters in His Rhetoric
Rhetoric Society of America Conference; San Antonio, TX: 2014

Practicing the "Progymnasmata": Appropriating the Pedagogy of the "Institutio Oratoria"
Midwest Conference on Christianity and Literature; Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL: 2014

From Transitory to Transformational: Writing Center Praxis as Travel
International Writing Centers Association Collaborative at the CCCC; Indianapolis, IN: 2014

"Angels on the Head of a Pin": A Story Promoting Interdisciplinary Thinking
Association of Interdisciplinary Studies National Conference; Miami University, Oxford, OH: 2013

Using Ancient Wisdom to Promote Inventive Thinking in the Writing Center
Midwest Writing Centers Association Conference—"Writing the ‘L’", Chicago, IL: 2013

Interdisciplinary Teaching and the Future of Liberal Arts Education
Annual Conference of the International Christian Studies Association; Pasadena, CA: 2013

Mediated Dialogism in Academic Writing Evaluation: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Action
The Midwest Conference on Literature, Language & Media; Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL: 2013

Camus’ Response to a War-Torn World: The Embodiment of His Ethic in the Liberating Art of Drama
The Gaede Institute—War and Peace as Liberal Arts; Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA: 2013

A Conceptual Basis for Praxis in the Writing Center
National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing; Chicago, IL: 2012

The Role of the Christian Liberal Arts College in Interdisciplinary Conversations About Higher Ed
Association of Integrative Studies National Conference; Detroit, MI: 2012

  • CORE 101—First Year Seminar
  • ENGW 103—First Year Writing
  • ENGL 111—Studies in Western Literature
  • ENGW 214—Persuasive Writing
  • ENGL 215—Classical and Early British Literature
  • ENGL 433—Varied Literary Topics
  • ENGW 444—Special Topics in Writing
  • ENGW 471--Teaching Writing
  • ENGL 494—Senior Seminar in English (Literature)
  • ENGW 494—Senior Seminar in English (Writing)
  • IDS 494—Senior Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • IDS 495—Independent Study in Advanced Research 

Much of my scholarship focuses on rhetoric, especially the work of Quintilian, the first-century Roman orator and teacher. I believe that the discipline of English finds its roots in the rhetorical tradition, which historically emphasizes more than a narrow focus on the belles lettres. In this light, English study should ideally fit one to use words well in a variety of situations and circumstances, for purposes in the academy and beyond. My work explores liberal arts learning and its intersection with interdisciplinary studies, addressing “wicked problems” (Brown et al., Tackling Wicked Problems) with students through their own individual research projects.

Teaching Charitable Writing: Choosing a Via Nova, in Charitable Writing, eds. Richard Gibson and James Beitler (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2020): 186-201; editor-reviewed print.

The Liberal Arts Paradigm for Interdisciplinary Studies, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (2019): 161-177; peer-reviewed—print. 

Becoming a Soulful Wordsmith, in Where Wisdom May Be Found: The Eternal Purpose of Christian Higher Education, ed. Edward P. Meadors (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2019):111-121; editor-reviewed—print.

Juan Luis Vives as the "Second Quintilian": Transforming Liberal Arts into Christian Piety, Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities
10.1 (2016) Web; peer-reviewed—web.

Building an E-Community of Consulting Problem Solvers: Using Online Conversation in the Writing Center, Synergy 9:1 (2016): 1-22:111-121; editor-reviewed—print.

Problematizing the Center: Affirming Christian Identities and the Complexity of Faith, The Dangling Modifier, Penn State University, Spring (2015); editor-reviewed—web.

Albert Camus as Rhetorical Playwright: The Embodiment of His Ethic in Drama, Journal of Camus Studies (2014): 23-43; peer-reviewed—print.

Novel Interdisciplinary Rhetoric: Chimeras and the Possible World of H. G. Wells, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies (2013): 105-136; peer-reviewed—print.

The Rhetorical Power of Heuristic Quotations: Incorporating the Wen Fu into the Writing Center, Praxis: A Writing Center Journal 10.2 (2013); peer-reviewed—web.

A Profession of Blended Beliefs, Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 10.2 (2010): 317-344; peer-reviewed—print/web.

The Virtue of Liberal Arts: Quintilian and Character Education, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 19.1-2 (2007): 61-80; peer-reviewed—print.

Writing with Purpose, Comment: A Publication of the Work Research Foundation. Sept. (2006): 54-62; editor-reviewed—print.

Pitching a Tent, Welcoming a Traveler, and Moving On: Toward a Nomadic View of the Writing Center, WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship
June (2001): 7-10; peer-reviewed—print/web.

Connected Writing Instruction: Adopting Quintilian’s Pedagogy for the College Classroom, Journal of Teaching Writing 18.1&2 (2000): 14-30; peer-reviewed—print/web.

Cultures in Conflict: Quintilian’s Conversion by Saint Jerome, Providence: A Quarterly Journal of Interdisciplinary Writings from a Judeo-Christian Perspective
5.1-2 (2000): 13-22; peer-reviewed—print.

Leaping Into the Personal Narrative: A Complex Construction of the Past and Present, Kansas English (NCTE affiliate journal) 84.1 (1998): 29-37; peer-reviewed—print/web.