Daphne Desser



Daphne Desser is an associate professor who teaches courses in rhetoric, memoir, and Jewish identity.  Recent graduate seminar topics include writing and healing and trauma and the rhetoric of memoirs of Israeli and Palestinian authors. She teaches undergraduate courses in rhetoric, argumentative writing, the Holocaust and life-writing, and film and literature of the Holocaust. She is a 2021 recipient of the Schusterman Center’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies fellowship and was selected as a speaker for the 2022 "Americans and the Holocaust," a touring library exhibition sponsored by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association. She has been invited to speak on various aspects of Jewish identity by multiple national organizations.

Her academic writing explores various aspects of identity construction and negotiation in such diverse writing contexts as memoir, electronic media, computer games, family letters, and the writing classroom. Recent publications include “Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Family and Inherited Trauma.” Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies. Vol. 15, Autumn, 2020. 153-72 and "My Mother is a Sabra and Other Inconvenient Truths" in Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal. Vol. 37.1, Spring, 2020. 95-104.

In Spring 2024, she shall be teaching in Seville with the Study Abroad program. Applications are due October 16th, 2023. She will offer English 311: "Travel Writing" and English 271: "Film and Literature of the Holocaust in Spain." Please click here for more information.








Teaching Writing in Globalization: Remapping Disciplinary Work. Book. Co-edited collection of original essays. Rowman and Littlefield (Lexington Books). 2012.

Published Chapters in Refereed Books:

“‘The People’s Challenge’: Rhetorics of Globalization from Above and Below.” Teaching Writing in Globalization: Remapping Disciplinary Work. Ed. Daphne Desser and Darin Payne. Rowan and Littlefield, 2012. “On Location in Hawai‘i: The Hapa Experience and Relational Authority in the Writing Classroom.” Composing Other Spaces: Place-Based Essays. Ed. John Paul Tassoni and Douglas Reichert Powell. Hampton P, 2008. 37-56. “Teaching Writing in Hawai‘i after Pearl Harbor and 9/11: How to ‘Make Meaning’ and ‘Heal’ Despite National Propaganda .” Trauma and the Teaching of Writing. Ed. Shane Borrowman. Albany: SUNY P, 2005. 85-97. “WPA Internships.” The Writing Program Administrator’s Resource: A Guide to Reflective Institutional Practice. Ed. Theresa Enos and Stuart Brown. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2002: 89-100. (Co-authored) “Who Speaks for the Underprepared?: Assessment as Political Definition.” Two-Year Colleges and the Politics of Writing. Ed. Barry Alford and Keith Kroll. Portsmouth: Heinemann Boynton/Cook, 2001. 107-18.


Articles in Refereed Journals, International or National:

"My Mother is a Sabra and Other Inconvenient Truths" Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal.  Vol. 37.1, Spring, 2020. 95-104. “Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Family and Inherited Trauma.” Journal of Modern Life Writing Studies. Vol. 15, Autumn, 2020. 153-72. “Politics, Gender, Literacy: The Value and Limitations of Current Histories of Women’s Rhetorics.” CCC 60:1 Sept 2008. 254-64. “Fraught Literacy: Competing Desires for Connection and Separation in the Writings of American Missionary Women in 19th Century Hawai‘i.” College English. v69 n5 p443-469 May 2007. “On Silence and Listening: ‘bewilderment, confrontation, refusal, and dream.’” JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory. 26.1-2. 2006. 311-26. “‘Why not Leeloh?’ and Other Disasters: Children’s Computer Games as a Site of Cultural Contestation, Corporate Corruption, and, Despite all That, Cognitive Development.” Works and Days Special Issue: “Capitalizing on Play: Politicized Readings of the Computer Game Industry.” 43/44. 22 (2004): 37-53. “‘Writing Partnerships’: Connecting Service Learning and Writing Pedagogy” (review essay). Composition Forum. 12.2 (2001): 167- 70. Appeared Spring 2003. “Writers in the Family: My Great-grandfather’s Letters, Identification, and Rhetorics of Identity.” Rhetoric Review 20 3-4 (2001): 314-28. "Who's On-Line?: Gender Morphing in Cyberspace." Journal of Electronic Publishing 6.1 (September 2000): http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/06-01/desser.html. “An Unexpected Heir: A Jewish Feminist Response to Letters from Pre-State Israel.” Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal (Winter 1999): http://www.utoronto.ca/wjudaism/journal/journal_index.html.


Articles in Refereed Journals, Regional:

“Community Works: Teaching Argumentation and Analysis Through Service Learning.” Arizona English Bulletin 41.1 (1998): 4-14. “Is That You Mom, Reflected in My Mirror?” Works in Progress. University of Arizona, Spring 1995.


Articles in other periodicals:

“Sleeveless Alpine Runs, Pies, and Ornery Wild Pigs: Mt. Lemmon, Arizona.” Edging West Magazine. January/February 1997. (Co-authored) “The Dragoons: Apple Pies and Empanadas.” Edging West Magazine. March/April 1997. (Co-authored) “The Electronic Journal: The Technologization of the Personal.” Clarion (Summer 1995): 7.


Creative Publications:


“Among the Watermelons.” Writing for Our Lives 5.2 (1997): 30-34.


“In A Kiss.” Loft and Range: A Poetry Anthology. Ed. Robert Longoni and Tom Speer. Tucson: Pima Press, 2001. 94.

“Unexpectedly in the Locker Room.” Sandscript. Ed. Stephen C. Nagy. Tucson: Arizona Lithographers, 1996: 32.


Internal Manuals and/or Resource Documents:

“Report on WIDFs in First Year Writing, 2016.” University of Hawaii. Honolulu. 2016. 65 pages.

“Report for English Department: Best Practices for Assessment, 2017.”  University of Hawaii. Honolulu. 12 pages.

The University of Arizona Portfolio Guide 1998-1999. Ed. Desser, Hall, and Williams. Tucson: University of Arizona. 1998. (Co-authored)



Areas of Interest

rhetorical history, theory, and criticism; writing and difference; Jewish identity construction and negotiation; the Holocaust and life-writing; film and literature of the Holocaust.


  • Excellence in Teaching Award. Nominated.
    University of Hawai‘i, 2020-2021.


  • Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching.
    University of Hawai‘i, 2007.


  • Thomas Gething Staff/Faculty Award for Service Learning--honorable mention. University of Hawai‘i, 2004.


  • Arts and Sciences Faculty Award: to acknowledge excellence and innovation in undergraduate teaching. University of Hawai‘i. 2002.


  • Outstanding Service-Learning Award.
    University of South Carolina, 1999-2000


  • College of Humanities Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant--honorable mention.University of Arizona, 1997-1998


  • Outstanding Instructor--Arts Division
    Pima Community College, 1992-1993


BA, MA, PhD, University of Arizona


Fall Semester 2024
  • ENG-409: Studies: Composition/Rhetoric/Language
  • ENG-625C: Introduction to Composition & Rhetoric

Summer Semester 2024
  • ENG-200: Composition II

Fall Semester 2023
  • ENG-306: Argumentative Writing
  • ENG-311: Autobiographical Writing

Summer Semester 2023
  • ENG-200: Composition II

Spring Semester 2023
  • ENG-271: Introduction to Literature: Genre: Stories from ‘the Holy Land
  • ENG-705: Seminar in Composition Studies: Trauma, Writing, and Healing