Linda Flower-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Linda Flower

Professor of English

Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 259
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
Office: Baker Hall 145 H
Phone: (412) 268-2863
Fax: (412) 268-7989


I am drawn to rhetoric as an art of discovery and change, of inquiry and social action. My current work brings the emerging theories of deliberative democracy and the public sphere to the design of sites of intercultural inquiry, such as the community think tanks on educational and workplace issues, in which my students are involved.  Analysis of such dialogues is revealing the distinctive kinds of knowledge that deliberative dialogues in local publics can create and the power of a hybrid, cross-cultural discourse. 

 This question of how marginalized voices can "go public," also shaped my role in the creation of Pittsburgh's Community Literacy Center, which I documented in Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement, winner of the 2009 RSA book award. It takes another form in the Decision Makers mentoring project my students do with urban teenagers. My interest in studying and supporting rhetorical agency builds on earlier work with my colleague, John R. Hayes which helped define the new area of cognitive rhetoric, studying the problem-solving processes of expert and novice writers.  In the Construction of Negotiated Meaning: A Social and Cognitive Theory of Writing I tracked the strategic process of effective student writers and their willingness to engage with cognitive conflict.  I have been a Co-Director the National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy at Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon as well as Director of the CMU Center for University Outreach.


  • Ph.D., Rutgers University
  • BA, Simpson College

Selected Publications

Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Press, 2008

"Going Public-In a Disabling Discourse."  In J. Ackerman and D. Coogan (Eds), The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010

"Talking Across Difference: Intercultural Rhetoric and the Search for Situated Knowledge." College Composition and Communication, 55 (1). 38-68, 2003