William Palmer

Interests include composition, rhetoric, creative writing, literature and spirituality. Director of Writing Program.


Dana Professor of English



Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Michigan State University (1988)
  • M.A., English, Central Michigan University (1976)
  • B.A., English, Central Michigan University (1974)

I am...

I am a teacher who strives to inspire students to do excellent work.  To do this, I have formulated three short questions for judging the value of any teaching method I use: Is it simple (can it be presented so students can readily understand it)?  Is it surprising (does it contain anything unexpected to stir wonder in students)?  Is it useful (will they be able to apply it in the future)? 

Teaching for me is an art like writing a poem, a story, or an essay that students will never forget. 



My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

first-year composition, introduction to creative writing, and spirituality and literature.

My expertise:

My expertise is in helping students learn how to write well and to enjoy and value writing.  Using my own textbook, Discovering Arguments, I have been able to publish excellent student writing from my English 101 classes. 

Signature course(s):

ENG 101 College Rhetoric II, ENG 190 Introduction to Creative Writing, FYS Wisdom: Cool Mind, Warm Heart, and ENG 180: The Male Journey

Recent publications:

Poem.  “Egg and Leaf.”  Hummingbird: Magazine of the Short Poem.  Vol. 25, No 2, 2015.

Essay.  “Helping Students Discover How to Omit Needless Words.”  The Teaching Professor Newsletter.  December 2014.  

Poem.  “Practice Smiling.”  Harpur Palate.  Vol. 14. No. 1. Summer & Fall 2014.  Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY. 

Poem.  “Low Standards.”  A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford.   Woodley Press, Washburn University, Topeka, KS.  Jan. 2014. 

Poem.  “Photo in the Visitors’ Room.”  Bluestem.  Eastern Illinois University.  March 20, 2013.

Poem.  “Red Boulder.”  Cold Mountain Review, Vol. 41, No. 1.  Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.  January 15, 2013.

Poem.  “Everything Is Growing.”  J Journal: New Writing on Justice.  John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, NYC. January 7, 2013.

Essay.  “I’m Glad Sabbaticals End.”  Inside Higher Ed.  September 10, 2012. 

Book.  Discovering Arguments: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, Writing, and Style.  4th ed.  Prentice Hall, January 2011. 

I've led

I’ve led students to Ghost Ranch, New Mexico to experience the high desert and to do service work while studying literature in our male journey course. 

I’ve led students to teach poetry workshops to inmates at local prisons in St. Louis and Saginaw.