Matthew Dowell, PhD

Assistant Professor, Director of First-Year Writing


Contact Info

LA 4332


B.A. in Political Science and English from the University of Dayton
M.A in English from the University of Louisville
Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisville

Areas of Expertise

First Year Writing


Matt Dowell primarily teaches the department’s first-year writing course (ENGL 102). He is also the Director of First-Year Writing. He was previously the Director of Writing at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, where he led writing initiatives related to the first-year writing program, the Core curriculum, and the writing center.

His research primarily focuses on feedback to student writing. This interest was influenced by many factors, including his work as a writing tutor, his time as college journalist/editor, and the advice of a mentor to focus on something that was both “mundane” and “seemingly long settled.” He takes comfort in knowing that never will we run out of things to say and study about the comments we provide to student writing. Specifically, he studies how the production and reception of feedback to student writing occurs in and circulates in writing classrooms and how such production, reception, and circulation is influenced by and influential to local contexts, including those ideologies that circulate in these spaces. In the future, he would like to study the same thing slightly differently, specifically in the form of studying how students, student writing, and teacher feedback move between classrooms and writing center spaces. In a previous academic life, he studied the newspaper rhetoric of slave revolt in relation to the Haitian Revolution and the recounting of such rhetoric in historical footnotes, and that’s the project he hopes to one day return to before his career is all said and done.

As Director of First-Year Writing he is leading ENGL 102 instructors in a process of reflecting on and revising (as needed) the ENGL 102 curriculum and the classroom practices used in teaching this course.  He’s always had a fascination with how writing works, what it does, and how people go about making it. Over time, that interest grew to include the teaching of writing – what we teach, how we teach it, and what we hope to accomplish in our teaching.

When not teaching, writing, studying writing, our developing writing curricula and pedagogies, he does things. Such things include cooking, hiking, cheering on Tottenham Hotspur F.C. (due to his soft spot for misery), attending baseball games, playing disc golf, and traveling. He has a B.A. in Political Science and English from the University of Dayton, a B.A in English from the University of Louisville, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisville.