Department Chair:
Jeffrey Pence

Administrative Assistant:
Sue Elkevizth

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8570
Fax: (440) 775-8684

Rice Hall 130
10 North Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Leonard Podis

Leonard Podis

Professor of Rhetoric & Composition and English

Contact Information


King Building 139B
(440) 775-8612

Leonard Podis

Leonard Podis

Educational Background

  • B.A., Case Western Reserve University, 1970
  • M.A., Case Western Reserve University, 1970
  • Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, 1975

Leonard Podis came to Oberlin College in 1975 to teach writing for the college's educational opportunity program (then called Developmental Services) and for the English Department. Impressed with Oberlin, he had the good sense to stick around for the next three decades. During his stint with the college he has taught at least a little about writing to many promising students, and he has learned just as much from them in return--not only about writing but about life, learning, society, politics, activism, strength, compassion, and courage.

One of his principal goals as a teacher has been to facilitate interactive learning, to tap the potential for students to educate each other. In keeping with this philosophy, he started Oberlin's peer tutoring program in writing and helped it grow into a nationally recognized operation, one that has been emulated by other institutions.

As a writing instructor, Professor Podis sees his own writing not only as a form of scholarly activity, but as an opportunity to "practice what he preaches," i.e. to stay in touch with the challenges, frustrations, and rewards of writing so that he can teach writing on the basis of his actual confrontations with it. Influenced by the view that knowledge is largely a social construction, Podis has authored much of his work in collaboration with others (especially with his collaborator on the domestic front, JoAnne Podis). His areas of publication include rhetoric, composition, and writing pedagogy, as well as literary criticism. Originally a specialist in American literature, he has more recently developed an interest in postcolonial African fiction. He has published two dozen articles and also the following books:

Working with Student Writers: Essays on Tutoring and Teaching (with JoAnne Podis)

Challenging Hierarchies: Issues and Themes in Colonial and Postcolonial African Literature (with Yakubu Saaka)

Rethinking Writing (with JoAnne Podis)

Writing: Invention, Form, and Style (with JoAnne Podis)

Podis's family includes his wife JoAnne (who is Academic Vice President and Professor of English at Ursuline College), a daughter, Lauren (OC, 1998), who manages rock bands, and a very large poodle named Trixie. His interests outside academia include walking Trixie, following the fortunes of Cleveland's hapless sports teams, collecting (and drinking) wine, and traveling (though that often proves too costly for a humble educator).