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Julia Combs - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Julia Combs

Associate Professor of English | Southern Utah University


Specializing in the history of feminist rhetoric, seventeenth century rhetoric, and international writing centers


Dr. Julia Combs is an associate professor of English at Southern Utah University. Her research focuses on the history of rhetoric, particularly feminist rhetoric of the seventeenth century, the rhetoric of place and space and writing in the disciplines.

As the former director of SUU's Writing Center, Dr. Combs trained students to act as a campus resource, coaching and encouraging successful writers across all disciplines. Together with students, Dr. Combs proposed and collaborated on an extensive remodel and move of the Writing Center in 2018.

She also proposed and developed the Technical Writing Certificate and developed the Writing Fellows, a program for faculty-nominated students to support specific classes in majors like biology, business, history and engineering.

Dr. Combs earned a bachelor’s degree in language with an emphasis in German from Southern Utah University. At the University of Nevada Las Vegas, she earned a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in medieval literature and her Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing.






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Industry Expertise (4)

Writing and Editing



International Affairs

Areas of Expertise (16)

World Literature

International Writing Centers

Professional Writing and Presentations

Grant Writing

Seventeenth-Century Rhetoric

Technical Writing


Medieval Literature


Feminist Rhetoric

Academic Writing


History of Feminist Rhetoric

Creative Writing in Higher Education

Creative Writing Techniques

Rhetoric of Place

Education (3)

Southern Utah State College: B.A., Language, German Emphasis

University of Nevada Las Vegas: M.A., English

University of Nevada Las Vegas: Ph. D., Rhetoric and Writing

Accomplishments (5)

Community Engaged Scholar Award

Southern Utah University, 2016

Writing Fellows Program

Funded and approved at SUU in 2015

Technical Writing Certificate

Collaborated with Jon Smith. Approved in 2015

Writing Tutor Practicum Course

ENGL 3890 - Approved in 2015

Outstanding Lecturer

Southern Utah University English Department, 2013

Affiliations (12)

  • The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
  • Wooden O Symposium
  • International English Honor Society
  • Rhetoric Society of America
  • Teaching Academy Training Program, SUU Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association
  • Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association
  • Southern California Writing Center Association
  • Rocky Mountain Writing Center Association
  • International Writing Center Association
  • National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing

Languages (1)

  • German

Media Appearances (2)

The Writing Center: Am I “Write?”

SUU News  online


“It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a biology summary, a personal statement, or a dance essay-writing is writing, and we can help you with it.” Julia Combs, assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center, said.

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Southern Utah University continues to expand global partnership with Chinese university

St George News  online


Julia Combs, director of the SUU Writing Center, traveled to China over the summer with five of her student workers to open a writing center at WPU. They were able to implement the program and train the Chinese students to keep it running. It is one of the first English writing centers in China. “We care about these international students and we want them to succeed,” Combs said. “We’re hoping the center will help them practice their English and become more comfortable with the language.”

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Research Grants (4)

Writing Fellows Program Expansion

Southern Utah University Provost $21,000


Writing Fellows Pilot Program

Southern Utah University Provost $17,000


Writing Fellows Program Development

Southern Utah University Provost $12,000


SUU English Department Concurrent Enrollment Conference

SUU Success Academy $2,100

August 2014

Articles (3)

Fountains of Love: The Maternal Body as Rhetorical Symbol of Authority in Early Modern England.

Journal of Early Modern Studies


For Erasmus, the two fountains streaming milky juice--a new mother's breasts--represent powerful symbols of love and authority. Erasmus describes the mother's breasts as fountains oozing love to the sucking child. Elizabeth Clinton extends the image of Mother to represent God, reminding the nursing mother that when she looks on her sucking child, she should remember that she is God's new born babe, sucking His instruction and His word, even as the babe sucks her breast. Dorothy Leigh extends the image of the nursing mother to an image of Christ himself. Mother's love, especially a breast-feeding or "lying in" mother's love, is one of the most authoritatively gendered representations of love. Issues of gender and authority converge often around the image of the breast-feeding mother. Drawing on the image of the nursing mother, Dorothy Leigh and other early modern writers actively engaged in the most contentious and public debates of their day, including the authority of men, preachers and kings.

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"Me thinks if I Were a Man": An Analysis of Dorothy Leigh's Mother's Blessing as a Response to Joseph Swetnam.


Combs, Julia


As one of the first and most popular female-male authored conduct manuals of the seventeenth century, Dorothy Leigh's The Mother's Blessing is usually placed in the company of private, domestic literature. However, it does not sit comfortably there. Leigh claims to forget herself, as she rhetorically navigates her way through the constraining but enabling genre of the conduct manual. In this paper, I position Leigh as one of the initial respondents to Joseph Swetnam's pamphlet The Arraignment of Lewd, idle, froward and unconstant women.

There's No Place like Home: Constructing Ethos in Dorothy Leigh's Seventeenth-Century Conduct Manual

Ben Jonson Journal


Stephen Greenblatt has famously argued that Renaissance individuals refashioned themselves. Somewhat less well known, however, is that Renaissance individuals also refashioned their spaces, both public and private. For instance, in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, church pews were redesigned, seating men and women side-by-side rather than seating men on one side and women on the other side. This change in public spaces mirrored changes in private, domestic spaces. Protestant clergy rejected celibacy in favor of marriage; the parson lived in a home with his wife and family. The physical construction of the family home changed.

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Courses (5)

ENGL 1010 Intro to Academic Writing

The first of the required GE writing courses introduces students to academic composition. Students will engage in writing as a process, pre-drafting strategies, multiple drafts, peer review, and large and small-scale revisions.

ENGL 2010 Intermediate Writing

The second of the GE writing courses emphasizes the development of an effective academic style in argumentative essays that makes use of traditional rhetorical patterns, culminating in a major research paper.

ENGL 3120 Writing in the Sciences

Students will develop skills for writing about the sciences in different contexts, for various purposes. Students will write technical papers about science for professional audiences. They will also write about scientific issues for general audiences, clarifying relevant cultural issues.

ENGL 3120 Grant and Technical Writing

Students will use time-tested rhetorical strategies to identify new opportunities and solve problems. They will develop plans for action, organize ideas, improve the clarity of their writing, and communicate scientific information in a way that a general audience can understand. Students will have the option to work with a community partner in a project-based technical writing experience.

ENGL 3890 Writing Tutor Practicum

Explores current theory and research on the writing process, analyzes disciplinary writing conventions, and teaches strategies for helping writers review their work. Students will help their peers improve their writing in courses across the curriculum through twenty hours practicum in peer tutoring.