Donna Hunter has been teaching in the Program of Writing and Rhetoric since 2005—as a teaching fellow, lecturer and advanced lecturer. She is a writing consultant in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking, the Writing Specialist for the History Department, and was the PWR 2 coordinator and writing specialist in the Economics Department.

Donna earned her BA and PhD at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation, Dead Men Talking, examined 18th century execution and crime narratives written by and about Africans in colonial and early America and analyzed the historical, legal, and literary connections between blackness, criminality and writing. This led her to working at The Beat Within, a non-profit conducting writing workshops in juvenile halls around the Bay Area and beyond, as a writing facilitator and assistant director, before returning to the academy. She now specializes in learning and teaching about the rhetoric of criminality, scholar activism/engaged research for social change, empathy as rhetorical strategy for communication and affecting social change, and identity studies. Her courses are: “The Virtue of Vice and the Vice of Virtue: The Rhetoric of Criminality,” “Action Research: Making Time for Social Justice,” “I ___ Therefore I Am? 21st Century Identity,” and “Empathy, Ethics and Compassion Meditation: Practices in the Pursuit of Social Justice.”

Her current research includes extending the practice of scholar activism to undergraduates and understanding in what ways empathy can be used to affect social justice, with a particular focus on student activism and activists on Stanford’s campus. She received a Research Grant from PWR to study empathy in this context, as well as a Faculty Engagement Grant to create a Faculty Learning Community studying how to develop more empathic courses and how to work most effectively with students, student groups, student center staff, faculty, staff and administrators to develop a more empathetic university.

Academic Appointments

  • PWR Advanced Lecturer, Writing and Rhetoric Studies

Administrative Appointments

  • Writing Specialist, History Department, Program in Writing and Rhetoric (2018 - 2021)
  • PWR 2 Coordinator, Program in Writing and Rhetoric (2015 - 2017)
  • Writing Specialist, Economics Department, Program in Writing and Rhetoric (2014 - 2015)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

SPECIALIZATION: Scholar Activism/Engaged Scholarship; Empathy and Social Justice; The Rhetoric of Criminality; Identity; Racial and Social Justice Movements