Oren M. Abeles


Swain 211

Teaching Fellow

My research traces the rhetorical figures that articulate Darwinian biological theory, specifically the ways Darwin's tropes owe debts to an earlier tradition of rhetoric used by 18th and early 19th century agricultural improvers, whose breeding and cultivation practices Darwin also drew upon. As part of that study, I'm trying to rethink how we understand figurative language, particularly as a rhetorical techne that doesn't just make arguments more pretty or pleasing, but contributes in meaningful ways to their invention and arrangement. Stated most simply, I think that there is something quite substantive about Darwin's style, to the point where it is an ineluctably vital component of his science.  

This project developed out of a much longer engagement with a number of allied thinkers in the rhetoric of science and science studies, particularly Kenneth Burke, Jeanne Fahnestock and Bruno Latour. It supplements those writers quite similar notions of "figuration" and "articulation" with the concept of "sense" as developed in the paradoxical inguistic philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. The overall goal is to provide a more thoroughing and satisfactory explanation of what we mean when we say that rhetoric, figuration and articulation make a material difference in scientific discovery. 

I'm also pursuing a number of parralel research projects on writing pedagogy, with special attention to web-based classroom exercises and online service learning collaborations.

Outside of school, I spend a fare amount of time running through the woods with my trusty retreiver-hound Molly.


Teaching Awards

2012-2013 Award for Excellence in Teaching Composition, given by the UNC Chapel Hill English Department’s Peer Review Committee.



MA--The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010

MSEd--Northwestern University, 2006

BA--Bowdoin College, 2001

Research Groups and Interests

Group IX - Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
Group X - Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy