Carnegie Mellon University

Don Holmes

Don Holmes

Lecturer, Writing & Communication

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


My research interests are in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century African American rhetoric, literacy, and language. I investigate the narratives of my early ancestors to illuminate the methods they used to negotiate their voices into public discourse. My investment in this timeframe has been labor to uncover, archival and otherwise, the rhetorical situations and strategies of my ancestors’ response to anti-Black subjugation and later anti-democratic practices during the colonial and early national moments. My current project considers the role Phillis Wheatley played in establishing what I term a diplomatic rhetoric to engage the socio-political structures of eighteenth-century America and Great Britain. This project is forthcoming in Early American Literature Special Issue on Phillis Wheatley (Peters). I am currently at work on a project that explores the ambassadorial work of early-nineteenth-century Black preachers in cities like Philadelphia and New York City, My teaching interests are informed by my training in African American cultural history and rhetoric; I am engaged in the teaching of rhetoric and composition, argumentation, and professional writing. I hold a BA in English from the University of Southern Mississippi and a PhD in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2021)
  • BA, University of Southern Mississippi (2014)


African American Rhetoric, African American Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, African American Cultural History