College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence

Assistant Professor

Public and professional discourses, focusing on rhetorics of transitional justice and reconciliation

Susan Lawrence is Director of George Mason University's Writing Center.  Her research and teaching lie at the intersection of public and professional rhetorics.  Her dissertation project focused on rhetorics of reconciliation and accountability, examining Amnesty Hearing transcripts from the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  She argued that as perpetrators' accounts oriented to the TRC's requirements for obtaining amnesty, their reconciliatory potential was diminished.  Susan has also published on writing in disciplines and on strategies for teaching engineers to communicate with lay audiences.

Susan has taught courses in professional writing, public rhetorics, and research methods including ethnography and discourse analysis.  Her current project examines the role of theory in the field's most highly cited empirical studies of writing.  Her goal is to elucidate how this discourse constructs theory's epistemic capacity--in effect, to write the article that she has long wanted to assign in her research methods courses.

Susan holds a PhD in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University, an MA in Literature from the University of Wisconsin, and a BA in English and French from the College of William and Mary. She consults with professionals in government, business, and non-profit organizations about communicating with public and congressional audiences.

Selected Publications

Lawrence, Susan. "The Intertextual Forging of Epideictic Discourse: Construals of Victims in the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission Amnesty Hearings." Rhetoric in Detail: Discourse Analyses of Rhetorical Talk and Text. Eds. Barbara Johnstone and Christopher Eisenhart.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. 113-40

Hayes, John R., Diana M. Bajzak, Susan Lawrence, and Erwin R. Steinberg.  "Developing an Online Writing Tutor: The Interaction of Design Principles and Assessment."  Blurring Boundaries: Developing Writers, Researchers and Teachers: A Tribute to William L. Smith. Ed. Peggy O'Neill. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2007. 169-93

Flower, Linda, Susan Lawrence, and Desiree Cook, "Tracking a Literate Practice Across the Disciplines: The Rival Hypothesis Stance in Biology and History."  Learning to Rival: A Literature Practice for Intercultural Inquiry. Eds. Linda Flower, Elenore Long, and Lorraine Higgins.  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2000. 213-25

Courses Taught

ENGH 366: Editing for Audience, Style, and Voice

ENGH 388: Professional and Technical Writing

ENGH 459: Internship in English

ENGH 501: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Professional Writing and Rhetoric

ENGH 611: Discourse Analysis

ENGH 611: Rhetorics of Accountability

ENGH 612: Cultures of Professional Writing

ENGH 797: Capstone Project in Professional Writing and Rhetoric