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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seminar and lecture notes, course and workshop evaluations, syllabi, and graduate student work; published and unpublished texts by Lauer, conference programs and documents related to invited lectures, and professional documents such as Lauer's curriculum vitae, dissertation, and reference letters; correspondence from colleagues and students; photographs; newspaper articles; materials surrounding the development of an international two-week summer seminar on rhetoric and composition, and items from the Cranbrook Writer's Conference; audio recordings known as "the Saturday Tapes," CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks. These papers would be of interest to anyone researching the development of the Rhetoric and Composition program at Purdue, the development of the field as an academic discipline, women educators, and pedagogical theory and praxis.


  • 1964 - 2015


Access Information

The majority of materials are open for research. Materials containing personal or sensitive materials have been restricted and in some cases redacted versions have been made available in their place.

Several videos in the "Interviews" sub-series contains personal or sensitive content and have been restricted or redacted. Redacted videos are available for research. Please contact an archivist for additional information.

Copyright and Use Information

Rights for materials created by Janice M. Lauer have been transferred to Purdue University. Rights for other materials may be held by the original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

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.


7.369 Cubic Feet (Thirteen full-width letter size manuscript boxes, two shoe boxes, one cubic foot box, and four flat boxes)

10.21 Gigabytes : 229 digital files

Language of Materials



The Janice M. Lauer papers are arranged into two series based on the organization imposed by the donor.
  1. Purdue Rhetoric and Composition Program
  2. Career

Technical Access Information

Some digital material have been processed and digital copies can be accessed onsite in the Archives and Special Collections reading room. The audio visual material must be migrated to a digital format before use. Most of the digital materials have been migrated but many files are corrupted or unreadable. Contact Purdue University Archives and Special Collections if interested in using this material.

Acquisition Information

Materials were donated by Dr. Janice M. Lauer Rice on September 17, 2015.


No further additions to the collection are expected.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials imposed by Lauer was largely maintained except in select cases where materials appeared to be out of order. File names created by Lauer were largely maintained but in some instances were altered for clarity. File names that were preserved verbatim are placed in quotation marks ["]. Newspaper articles have been photocopied for preservation purposes and placed with the originals. All materials have been rehoused in acid-free folders and enclosures and acidic and non-archival enclosures were discarded. Materials containing personal and sensitive information were restricted or redacted. Some digital material was corrupted and cannot be accessed. Floppy disks were migrated by Neal Harmeyer, March 2023.



Janice M. Lauer papers
Under Review
Cait Parker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States