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Brooke Rollins

Associate Professor

0035 - Drown Hall

PhD, University of South Carolina, 2007

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Additional Interests

  • Rhetorical Theory
  • History of Rhetoric
  • Writing Pedagogy
  • Teacher Development

Research Statement

Professor Rollins is currently writing a book manuscript, Rhetorics of the Wager, on rhetorical accounts of wagering and gambling, such as J. L. Austin’s frequent use of the phrase “I bet” in How to Do Things with Words and Blaise Pascal’s famed “Wager” in Pensées. The book, which diagnoses a cultural moment in which the practice of gambling has become a controlling metaphor for contemporary deliberation and decision making, argues that the wager is now a constitutive element of living and that what it means to live rhetorically in 21st century culture is to balance risks with rewards according to processes that transform the structures of our thinking and being. The project of the book is to articulate this cultural phenomenon as a problem for rhetoric and to identify, analyze, and apply rhetorical theory texts that function as sites of rhetorical resistance. 

Her first book, The Ethics of Persuasion: Derrida’s Rhetorical Legacies (Ohio State University Press, 2020), challenges traditional thinking about classical rhetoric as primarily a utilitarian art that was taught and practiced for the purposes of influencing others. In it, she brings the thought of philosopher Jacques Derrida to some of rhetoric’s most esteemed historical texts (by the Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle) in order to tease out an ethical imperative that has traditionally been subsumed by a focus on rhetoric’s persuasive utility.


Brooke Rollins, the director of Lehigh’s First-Year Writing Program, is a rhetoric scholar whose research reimagines some of the rhetorical tradition’s signature texts from contemporary critical perspectives. She teaches courses in the rhetorical theory and history, the rhetoric of humor, game studies, critical theory, and composition pedagogy. Her work has appeared in College EnglishRhetoric Society Quarterly; jac: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture & Politics; and The Velvet Light Trap. Her first book, The Ethics of Persuasion: Derrida’s Rhetorical Legacies (The Ohio State University Press, 2020), brings together the thought of Jacques Derrida and the classical rhetorical tradition to demonstrate the significant rhetorical dimensions of deconstruction and the surprising ethical priority of an ancient discipline known for its utilitarian focus on persuasion. Professor Rollins is currently working on a second book project titled Rhetorics of the Wager, which diagnoses a cultural moment in which the practice of gambling has become a controlling metaphor for contemporary deliberation and decision making. 


The Ethics of Persuasion: Derrida’s Rhetorical Legacies. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2020.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

“Persuasion’s Ethical Force: Levinas, Gorgias and the Call to the Other.” JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 29.3 (2009): 539-559.

“Inheriting Deconstruction: Rhetoric and Composition’s Missed Encounter with Jacques Derrida.” College English 69.1 (September 2006): 11-27.

“‘Some Kind of a Man’: Orson Welles as Touch of Evil’s Masculine Auteur.” The Velvet Light Trap 57 (Spring 2006): 32-41.  

“The Ethics of Epideictic Rhetoric: Addressing the Problem of Presence through Jacques Derrida’s Funeral Orations.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 35:1 (Winter 2005): 5-23.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

“From the Cathedral to the Casino: Pascal’s Wager as a Response to the Sacred.” Responding to the Sacred: An Inquiry into the Limits of Rhetoric. Michael Bernard Donals and Kyle Jensen, eds. Penn State University Press, April 2021 (Peer reviewed).

“The Writing Wager: Gambling, Risk, and the Future of Writing.” Abducting Writing Studies. Kyle Jensen and Sid Dobrin, eds. Southern Illinois University Press (2017): 65-80 (Peer Reviewed).

“Collusion and Collaboration: Concealing Authority in Writing Center Conversation.” With Trixie Smith & Evelyn Westbrook. (E)merging Identities: Graduate Students in the Writing Center. Ed. Melissa Dunbar Nichols. Southlake: Fountainhead Press (2008): 119-140.


Book Reviews

Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations by Diane Davis” Philosophy & Rhetoric 45.4 (2012): 460-467.

This is Not Sufficient: An Essay on Animality and Human Nature in Derrida by Leonard Lawlor.” JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 30.3-4 (2010): 834-839.



Green. With Lee Bauknight. Southlake: Fountainhead Press, 2010.

Food. With Lee Bauknight. Southlake: Fountainhead Press, 2010.

Present Tense: Contemporary Themes for Writers. With Lee Bauknight. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, January 2009.


Series Editor

With Lee Bauknight. Fountainhead Press “V Series,” a collection of single-topic readers featuring invention, research, and writing prompts designed to give writing students a nuanced introduction to public discourse. 


Public Humanities

Thinking With … A Rhetorical Theory Podcast  “Decisions & Responsibility in Sports and Life” (Feb. 2023).

New Books Network Scholarly Communication Podcast  “An Interview with Dr. Brooke Rollins” (June 2021).


Recent Conference and Invited Lectures

“Biopolitical Wagering: Sovereign Violence and the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting.” To be delivered at the Rhetoric Society of America 21st Biennial Conference. Denver, CO, May 2024.

“Deliberation as Rhetorical Wagering.” Rhetoric Society Europe 8th Biennial Conference. Tubingen, Germany, June 2023.

“‘Getting the Money in Good’: From Deliberation to Algorithmic Thinking.” Rhetoric Society of America 20th Biennial Conference. Baltimore, MD, May 2022.

“Q & A on The Ethics of Persuasion: Derrida’s Rhetorical Legacies.” Wayne State University English Department Graduate Seminar on Rhetorical Theory. Invited Talk. November 2021.

“Jacques Derrida and/in the Field of Rhetoric” University of South Carolina English Department Graduate Seminar on Rhetorical Theory. Invited Talk. September 2021.

“Q & A on The Ethics of Persuasion: Derrida’s Rhetorical Legacies.” Virginia Tech University English Department Graduate Seminar on Rhetorical Theory. Invited Talk. March 2021.

“Rhetorics of the Wager.” Mellon Humanities Lab Research Roulette: Probability, Lehigh University, March 2021.

“Haunting Lysias: Logography, Inhospitality, and the Other of Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Society of America. Portland, OR, May 2020 (Not delivered due to COVID-19 conference cancellation).

“Classical Origins of Bullshit: Plato & the Sophists.” Calling Bullshit, SOC 197. Lehigh University, March 2020.

“Rhetoric of Citation.” University of South Carolina Conference on Rhetorical Theory. Invited Talk. Columbia, South Carolina, October 2019.



ENGL 090 Games People Play: Narratives, Theories, & Cultures of Gaming
ENGL 189 Theory & History of Rhetoric 
ENGL 195 “What’s So Funny?”: The Rhetoric of Humor 
ENGL 391 Writing to be Read: Style & Strategy in Nonfiction Prose 
ENGL 481 Rhetoric & Social Justice 
ENGL 482 Theories of Literature & Social Justice 
ENGL 485 Issues in the Teaching of Writing      
ENGL 486 Teaching Composition Practicum 
ENGL 488 Teaching Composition Practicum II 
ENGL 495 Hist. & Theory of Comp. Studies Ind. Study 
ENGL 495 Rhetoric, Justice, & Discourses of Abortion Rights Ind. Study
ENGL 495 Community Writing Ind. Study 
ENGL 495 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory Ind. Study 
ENGL 495 Classical Rhetoric & Writing Pedagogy Ind. Study
WRT 001:  Academic and Analytical Writing
WRT 002:  Research and Argument
WRT 011:  Advanced Writing: The Rhetorical Self