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Lauer, Janice M.



  • Existence: 1932 - April 7, 2021

Biographical Information

Dr. Janice Lauer was a professor in the English Department at Purdue University from 1980 to 2003. She founded the Rhetoric and Composition program at Purdue in 1979-1980 when the discipline was in its infancy. She is also credited as a founder in the rhetoric and composition field.

Lauer was born in 1932 in Detroit, Michigan and was adopted by Vincent and Viola Lauer. As an undergraduate, Lauer attended Marygrove College and later earned her Master's in English from St. Louis University and her doctorate in English from the University of Michigan. Lauer was a public-school teacher and a college professor at Marygrove and the University of Detroit prior to her employment at Purdue University.

Starting in the 1960s, Lauer helped run an international summer rhetoric seminar for 13 years as the field of rhetoric developed as a discipline. Lauer founded, directed, and taught for over 20 years in one of the first Rhetoric and Composition doctoral programs, which she established at Purdue University.

Lauer was a Reece McGee Distinguished Professor of English at Purdue University (1980-2003) and over the course of her career, Lauer's ideas on writing as a multimodal process of inquiry shaped the emerging academic field of Rhetoric and Composition. Lauer wrote and published essays and books on rhetorical intervention, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinarity, historical rhetoric, and empirical research. She served on executive committees for the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the Rhetoric Society of America, the Discussion Group in the History and Theory of Rhetoric of the MLA, and the Aquinas Educational Foundation. Lauer also coordinated the Consortium of Doctoral Programs in Rhetoric and Composition, directed an international two-week Rhetoric Seminar, and directed the Cranbrook Writers' Conference. During her time at Purdue, Lauer directed over 57 dissertations and advocated for the creation and expansion of doctoral programs in rhetoric and composition throughout the academia. When Lauer retired from Purdue in 2003, the Rhetoric and Composition program had over 200 graduates.

Lauer held honors such as the Conference on College of Composition and Communication "Exemplar Award," Purdue's School of Liberal Arts "Excellence in Education Award," a Hopwood Award from the University of Michigan, the Rhetoric Society of America's "Distinguished Service Award," and received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Edwards University (1980).

Lauer retired in 2003. She continued to serve on various boards and committees and volunteered at the Indiana Veterans' Home. She died on April 7, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana.


Janice Lauer Rice. Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Family of Sites.


Janice M. Lauer Rice Obituary. Lafayette Journal & Courier. Accessed August 27, 2021.


Janice Lauer papers collection file. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries. West Lafayette, IN.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Janice M. Lauer papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 554
Scope and Contents The Janice M. Lauer papers were created and collected by Lauer and document her career prior to, and during, her time at Purdue University. Lauer assisted in developing the field of Rhetoric and Composition as an academic discipline and in 1979, Lauer founded the program at Purdue out of the English Department. Types of materials include scrapbooks, program documents, seminar and lecture notes, course and workshop evaluations, syllabi, and graduate student work; published and unpublished texts...
Dates: 1964 - 2015