Karen Shea

Professor,  College of Arts & Sciences

Contact Information
Karen Shea
Helping JWU students gain confidence in their writing, speaking, and reading has been both rewarding and educational.


After graduating with a B.A. in English from Connecticut College, Karen Shea taught English in Japan for three years. When she returned to the United States, she obtained a master’s degree in Education (specializing in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)) from Rhode Island College. After that, she taught English in Tokyo for one more year, then returned to Rhode Island to teach English at Johnson & Wales University.

In 2017, Shea graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Ph.D. in English. Having specialized in Rhetoric & Composition, she studied the histories, theories and practical applications of writing and rhetoric, ultimately focusing her dissertation research on multiculturalism and comparative rhetoric. She is particularly interested in conducting research related to open-mindedness, experiential education, rhetorical reading, and high vs. low context communication styles.

In September 2016, Shea transferred from the ESL department to the English department at JWU, where she teaches courses focusing on composition, communication and rhetorical theory. 

Helping JWU students gain confidence in their writing, speaking and reading has been both rewarding and educational, and Shea is honored to have the opportunity to contribute to their postsecondary academic and personal growth.

Sample Courses

  • ENG 1020: English Composition
  • ENG 1021: Advanced Composition and Communication
  • ENG 1030: Communication Skills
  • ENG 2135: Voice to Power: Public Speaking and Civic Responsibility (Honors Seminar)


  • “Cultivating Engagement Through Open-Mindedness, Hospitality, and Intercultural Dialogue in Basic Writing Classrooms.” Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), 2017.
  • “‘But I Don’t Have Time to Teach Reading’: Using Multimodal Approaches to Teach Rhetorical Reading in the Composition Classroom.” CCCC, 2016.
  • “Not Only in Words: Multimodality and Prezi in Postsecondary ESL.” Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL), 2016.
  • CCCC 2015: “‘I Never Did This in My Country’: Easing Postsecondary ESL Writers Out of Their Comfort Zones by Introducing Them to Rhetorical Reading and Prezi.” MATSOL, 2016.