Louis Ellsworth Laflin Professor of English
- Ph.D., University of Iowa
- A.M., University of Michigan
- A.B., University of Michigan
Merrill Whitburn teaches in the areas of speech, rhetoric, technical communication, and the novel.
“I am interested in the conflict between rhetoric and philosophy in history—the dominance of rhetoric in classical antiquity, the role of Christianity in moving philosophy to dominance, and the reasons why change is now positioning rhetoric for dominance again and the implications for human goals, social structures, and methodologies,” Whitburn said.
He is currently completing a book about the impact of German learning on American rhetoric in the early nineteenth century. His last book, Rhetorical Scope and Performance: The Example of Technical Communication, was funded by a Mina Shaughnessy Scholars Award from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and the Carnegie Corporation.
One of his prior articles on style in technical and scientific communication won a Technical and Scientific Communication Award from the National Council of Teachers of English. For 13 years he was chair of the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication, and at Texas A&M he was awarded the Faculty Distinguished Service Award for his service activities.
Prior to his academic career, Whitburn held positions in communication with Western Electric and the Gelman Instrument Company, and throughout his career he has served as a consultant to industry and other academic institutions.
He was awarded the Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication by the Society for Technical Communication, the Trustees’ Outstanding Teacher Award from Rensselaer, and the Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award from Texas A&M University.