Peter Wayne Moe


Assistant Professor of English
Director of Campus Writing

B.A., Western Washington University, 2005
M.A., Eastern Washington University, 2010
Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2015

Specialties: Composition, Rhetoric, Pedagogy

Office: Marston 228

I became interested in Composition while working at the Western Washington University Writing Center as an undergrad.  After graduation, I spent a few years as a court clerk, but deciding law wasn’t for me, I headed to Eastern Washington University for an MA and then to the University of Pittsburgh for my doctorate in Composition, Literacy, Pedagogy, and Rhetoric.

My research focuses on the teaching of the sentence.  In my dissertation “Toward a Rhetoric of Syntactic Delivery,” I suggest that as rhetorical instruction and practice shifted over the years from the stage to the page–that is, from the senate, the courtroom, the pulpit, and the theatre to the written word–the art of delivery evolved.  Delivery used to be a matter of using the voice and gesture when giving a speech; now, I claim, it is a matter of syntax, the writer performing on the page via her sentences.

The focal point of this project is the student.  Student sentences never appear in sentence-appreciation books and websites, and when student sentences do appear in print (most often, in Composition’s professional literature), they appear as examples of error.  The argument is subtle but clear: students can’t write good sentences.  I disagree.  And so I work exclusively with student sentences in my research and my teaching, arguing for a revision of how we read student work.  Rather than attending to what it fails to do, I seek to read student work for what it does on the page, what it attempts to do, and how it might do it better.

I publish widely, including a three-part series on whales, a rhetorical analysis of Michael J. Fox’s advocacy, and multiple essays on the teaching of writing.  In addition to revising the dissertation for publication, I’m currently working on a piece titled “Speech Acts and the Problem of Who’s on First.”  For a complete list of publications see my CV.

As the Director of Campus Writing, I oversee the Writing Program and run the Writing Center. My wife and I enjoy walking our dog, whale watching from the shore, cheering on our beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, and eating homemade pizza every Friday night.