Complete Story

RSA Mourns the Loss of Winifred Bryan Horner

Winifred Bryan Horner (Professor of English Emerita, U of Missouri and Radford Chair of Rhetoric Emerita, Texas Christian U) contributed greatly to the re-emergence of the discipline of rhetoric and composition in the 20th-century.

Win contributed to the professionalization of RSA by helping set up its organizational structure. Win was one of the early members of the RSA who helped promote it, serving on the Board of Directors from 1981-87 (elected) and as President 1987-89 (elected). Win played an important part in establishing the RSA Constitution. On the RSA website Kathleen Welch writes: "The constitution has been revised approximately six times by two committees that met at RSA, SCA, and CCCC meetings. Former RSA presidents Winifred Bryan Horner and Richard Leo Enos devoted an extensive amount of time in leading these committees and in applying the results of their long experience to this important document".

Win has contributed to rhetorical scholarship in major ways that helped bring it to prominence again in the 20th-century. Her work on Scottish rhetoric was ground-breaking. Before Win, the assumption was that there was little or no rhetoric in Scotland; her work in the archives resulted in articles and books that disproved that claim and put Scottish rhetoric on the map. She subsequently was awarded the position of Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. And she mentored students who continued her work in Scottish rhetoric (e.g., Lynee Gaillet) as well as other students who have become prominent in the field (Hui Wu who works on comparative rhetorics and Nancy Myers who works on women's rhetoric). Moreover, Win's book Present State of Scholarship in the History of Rhetoric is a classic that has been published in three editions and is probably responsible for more dissertation topics in rhetoric during the past 28 years (first edition was in 1983) than any other single publication.

Win has contributed to rhetoric textbooks. For years, she was the editor of Harbrace Handbook and supplemented its traditional grammar focus with rhetorical process theory. In addition, she authored Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition, which put Ed Corbett's work into practice for TAs and first-year students alike and which subsequently inspired many commercial rhetoric textbooks.

Finally, Win is a pioneer in the field of rhetoric ... as a role model and mentor for women. One of the first women in the field, she paved the way for the rest. If you stop women in the halls at RSA or CCCC conferences and ask them about Win Horner, they all have a story. She helped them learn how to write conference papers. She helped them get a job. She helped them get a book published. She helped keep them sane as they began their careers. She invited them to work with her on projects. She gave advice on how to get tenure. She wrote tenure letters and then more tenure letters and then letters for promotion to full professor. She motivated women to work to achieve full professor. And all the while, she modelled how to have it all--a career, a family, and a grand sense of humor. She institutionalized this mentoring in CCCC by serving as a founding member of the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric, helping to assure that rhetoric did not disappear from the C's.

For all of these reasons, RSA is privileged to honor Winifred Bryan Horner. She will be missed.


Please click here to view Professor Horner's obituary.

Printer-Friendly Version