English & Humanities

Daniel Ehrenfeld

Assistant Professor 10 Months Email Knapp Hall, Room 13
Dan Ehrenfeld, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of English and Humanities. He studies digital rhetoric, writing in the public sphere, rhetorical circulation, persuasion, and writing pedagogy. He has taught courses in first-year writing, technical writing, developmental reading and writing, digital culture, and public sphere theory.

Dr. Ehrenfeld is currently working on a book project. The New Information Warriors: Rhetoric and Social Change in the Digital Age investigates the ways that digital activists catalyze social change through everyday acts of posting, linking, and sharing. Drawing upon 35 in-depth qualitative interviews, the project examines the rhetorical practices of these “information warriors”—activists and advocates who work to shape public consciousness about racial justice, disability, climate, feminism,anti-capitalism, and more. While surveying a diverse digital landscape, the project pays particular attention to a category of practices that it terms networked mass persuasion. Ubiquitous in today’s digital public sphere, networked mass persuasion is a unique hybrid of two distinct but intertwined persuasion legacies. On the one hand, practitioners of networked mass persuasion are heirs to a legacy of “strategic” persuasion—echoing techniques pioneered by the mass persuasion wizards of the 20th century (in domains such as public relations, political campaigning, and propaganda), they privilege strategic messaging over deliberative dialogue. At the same time, these information warriors are inheritors of a legacy of “expressive” persuasion—like those who spearheaded the new social movements of the 60s and 70s, they recognize that seemingly spontaneous acts of self-expression and self-fashioning can trigger cascades of collective consciousness. Though practices of “crowd swarming,” “memetic warfare,” and “personal branding” are often assumed to be inconsistent with democratic ideals, this project’s in-depth accounts of everyday digital activism reveal that practices such as these are increasingly central to struggles for social change.

Dr. Ehrenfeld has been awarded UMass Amherst’s Walker Gibson Prize for the best graduate essay on a topic in Rhetoric and Composition, the Rhetoric Society of America's Michael Leff Award, the Conference on College Composition and Communication's Chairs' Memorial Scholarship, and the Rhetoric Society of America's Gerard Hauser Award for the best paper presented by a graduate student at its biennial conference.

Dr. Ehrenfeld's career demonstrates a decade-long commitment to culturally responsive education. In recent years, he has designed and enacted workshop-style, experiential pedagogies that center digital technologies. By asking students to investigate the communication landscapes of the modern social web—and by asking them to experiment with ways that they might leverage various genres and technologies to shape their relations with audiences beyond the classroom—his courses encourage the growth of efficacious, rhetorically-flexible writers.

More information about his work can be found at www.danehrenfeld.com





Ph.D in English with Specialization in Rhetoric and Composition

University of Massachusetts Amherst

2012 – 2018

Dissertation: "Rhetorical Investments: Writing, Technology, and the Emerging Logics of the Public Sphere"

Directed by Donna LeCourt, with Janine Solberg and Jon Olsen


M.A. in Secondary Education with Specialization in Academic Instruction for English Language Learners and Diverse Student Populations & California Teaching Credential (English Language Arts)

Loyola Marymount University

2005 – 2007


B.A. in English

Wesleyan University

2001 – 2005





“‘Sharing a World with Others’: Rhetoric’s Ecological Turn and the Transformation of the Networked Public Sphere.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 50, 2020.


“Online Public Spheres in the Era of Fake News: Implications for the Composition Classroom.” (with Matt Barton) Computers and Composition, 54, 2019.


“Ecological Investments and the Circulation of Rhetoric: Studying the ‘Saving Knowledge’ of Dr. Emma Walker’s Social Hygiene Lectures.” Methodologies for the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, edited by Lisa Meloncon and J. Blake Scott, Routledge, 2017.


“The Cloud and the Mine: A Conversation with Media Artist Brian House about Big Data and the Circulation of Digital Writing.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, vol. 21, no. 1, Aug. 2016.




“Mass Persuasion Revisited: Digital Activist Rhetoric in the Post-Gutenberg Era.” The Rhetoric Society of America Conference, Portland, OR. May 2020. Conference Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic


“Persuasion and Time in Digital Microactivism.” Computers and Writing Conference. Greenville, NC. May 2020. Conference Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic


“Public-Engaged Pedagogy and the Fifth ‘Position’ on Digital Democracy.” MIT’s International Media in

Transition 10 Conference, Cambridge, MA. May 2019


“Emerging Practices of Networked Mass Persuasion: Implications for Public Writing Pedagogy.” Computers and Writing Conference, East Lansing, MI. June 2019


“Aristotle’s Chronos and the Shared Temporalities of Writing on the Social Web.” The Rhetoric Society of America Conference, Minneapolis, MN. June 2018


 “Composition Pedagogy and the Social Imaginaries of the Digital Landscape.” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Kansas City, MO. March 2018


“The Circulation of Rhetoric and the Question of Change: Networks, Systems, and Ecologies on a Historical Timescale.” The Rhetoric Society of America Conference, Atlanta, GA. May 2016


“Technologies for Going Public: The Circulation of Student Writing and the Spatiotemporal Logics of the Digital Public Sphere.” Computers and Writing Conference, Rochester, NY. May 2016


“Material Circulation and the Networked Public Sphere: Rethinking the Social and Spatial Politics of the ‘Public Turn.’” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Houston, TX. April 2016


“Following the Threads: Writer-Audience Relationships and the Mediating Role of Digital Interfaces.” Computers and Writing Conference, Pullman, WA. June 2014


“‘Us Against Them’: Pitfalls of Open Access for Publics and Counterpublics.” The Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, IN. March 2014

Last Modified 2/18/21