Randy Allen Harris was born in Kitimat, B.C., Canada. After some years there, and some more years in Campbell River, B.C., he spent an inexcusably long time moving around the continent, from university to university, harvesting various educations.

He attended the University of Lethbridge, in Southern Alberta, mostly studying philosophy. He transferred to Queen's University, in Southern Ontario, where he earned an Honours B.A. in English Literature. He went to Dalhousie University, in Halifax, where he earned an M.A. in English Literature, specializing in Henry Fielding. Next came the University of Alberta, where he earned an M.Sc. in Experimental Psycholinguistics, specializing in aphasia. To round things off, he went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in upstate New York, where he earned an M.S. in Technical Communication, specializing in graphics, and a Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric, specializing in scientific argumentation and Chomskyan linguistics.  Whew!

Upon escaping university, he worked for several years at Bell-Northern Research, in Ottawa, ON, a Research & Development telecommunications company that was pioneering online documentation and usability testing. But somehow he ended up back in university, toiling joyfully. He teaches linguistics, rhetoric, and professional communication in the English department at the University of Waterloo, with a cross-appointment to the David Cheriton School of Computer Science, and researches a smattering of phoenomena mostly around the cognitive and computational aspects of rhetorical figures and Construction Grammar. His books include Voice Interaction Design: Crafting the New Conversational InterfacesRhetoric and Incommensurability, two volumes in the Taylor & Francis Landmark Essays series, both in aspects of Rhetoric of Science; the co-edited (with Jeanne Fahnestock) Routledge Handbook of Language and Persuasion; and The Linguistics Wars

    Research Interests


    • Rhetoric of Science
    • History of Rhetoric
    • Figuration
    • Argumentation
    • Neurocognitive Stylistics
    • Computational Rhetoric


    • History of Linguistics
    • Generative Grammar
    • Chomskyana
    • Cognitive Linguistics
    • Construction Grammar
    • Language Pathologies
    • Computational Linguistics

    Communication Design

    • Usability
    • Technical Communication
    • Voice Interaction Design
    • Information Architecture

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