The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Paul Prior

Paul Prior

Paul Prior is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Contact Information

275 English Building | MC-718


Research and Theory

Working with cultural-historical activity theory, actor-network theory, and dialogic semiotics, Professor Prior has explored connections among writing, talk, embodied action, learning, and disciplinarity. His research and theoretical work has appeared in articles, chapters, and a book Writing/Disciplinarity: A Sociohistoric Account of Literate Activity in the Academy (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998). He has also co-edited with Charles Bazerman What Writing Does and How It Does It: An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices(Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004) and with Julie Hengst Exploring Semiotic Remediation as Discourse Practice(Palgrave, 2010). His current projects focus on sociocultural theories of writing, relations between writing and gesture, and understanding how academic writing and disciplinarity develop across the lifespan. For a full list of publications and talks, see c.v. at his webpage.


Paul’s current term as Director of the Center for Writing Studies started in August 2016. He had served as the Director of Graduate WAC Programs, Associate Director, and then Director in the Center for Writing Studies between 1992 and 2014. He twice served as Director of Undergraduate Rhetoric in the English Department (between 1997-1999 and then 2006-2009). Paul was co-editor of Research in the Teaching of English from 2008-2013. Before he began his PhD at the University of Minnesota, Paul taught ESL at Indiana University; the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For further biographical details, see c.v. at his webpage.