Jimmie Killingsworth

Citation for
Jimmie Killingsworth
Elevated to ATTW Fellow, March 1999
(written by Carolyn Rude)

Jimmie Killingsworth is probably best known for his scholarship, but in honoring him as a fellow of ATTW, I will also cite the opportunities he has created for others—an act both of collegiality and of scholarship.

Through his scholarship he has contributed to the knowledge of the field, to defining and shaping its directions, and to setting high standards for its inquiries.

His work includes two major books in the field:

  • Signs, Genres, and Communities in Technical Communication, co-authored with Michael Gilbertson
  • Ecospeak: Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America, co-authored with Jacqueline Palmer

Both of these books join a fairly small number of book-length studies in the communication of scientific and technical subjects. In a field in which the usual publication is the article or collection, Jimmie has offered sustained studies noted especially for their grounding in theory but also for the way they point to connections between our field and communities beyond us. I hear the word “community” in much of Jimmie’s work. Thus, from his work, we have new insights into the communities that define values and create ideas, and we have particular insight into various communities that articulate values and actions regarding the environment.

Jimmie himself might be defined as a community—he’s published not just these books but also articles in virtually every journal with connections to technical communication, a textbook, and work in literature as well. He’s been rewarded and acknowledged and cited. Sometimes I think there must be more than one Jimmie Killingsworth to do so much.

Given his academic interest in communities, it’s not surprising that one of his major contributions to the field has been to create opportunities for others to develop their own scholarship. As the first editor of the ATTW series in technical communication through Ablex Publishers, he has launched a publication series with eight books in print since 1997 and two more on their way. Much of this work has been invisible, behind-the scenes negotiation with Ablex to define a vision for the series and to convert skepticism into support. In addition, Jimmie has recruited a number of authors and editors for the series, some in this room, encouraging colleagues to do their own best work but also enabling rather dramatic contributions to the knowledge of the field as a whole.

Jimmie’s CV includes much more about his academic achievements and service than I can review here, but I will mention that he will chair the NCTE Committee on Technical Communication next year.

Our field is richer for all that is in print either because of his direct contributions or the indirect ones through people he has encouraged, but it is also richer for the man—generous, able to see what is good in people, able to help them do their best—and a heck of a lot of fun, especially with a guitar or mandolin.

Go to top