Donna Hunter

Contact Information:

Office Phone:
1- 650- 725-1215
650- 725-1215

Office Location:
Sweet Hall 3rd Floor, Rm 322, 590 Escondido Mall, Stanford, CA 94305

Office Hours:

T 01:45pm-03:15pm


Before starting to teach in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, I was facilitating writing workshops in juvenile halls around the Bay Area for The Beat Within. (If you're interested in insightful, moving, unedited writing by incarcerated youth and adults, check out the website: I began volunteering and then working full time at The Beat after earning my Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley in 2000. Although this may seem like an odd transition, my dissertation, "Dead Men Talking," examined 18th century execution and crime narratives composed by and about Africans in colonial and early America and analyzed the historical, legal, and literary connections between blackness, criminality and writing. Sadly, the conflation of blackness and criminality evident in the 18th century has not changed significantly in the present day, so I became determined to understand more about these seemingly intractable bonds, and to contribute, in some tiny way, to loosening them in practice rather than just in theory-hence, my work at The Beat Within.

Returning to the academy with a vastly expanded worldview, I am now continuing my exploration of representations of criminality by and about those deemed criminals, and specifically the rhetoric that informs these portraits. I am also interested in the uses of expressive writing, the rhetoric of philanthropy, the language and imagery surrounding the construction of identity, the relationship between activism and academic work, the possibility of scaling empathy and compassion practices to address social change and academic responses to race and racism.

And just in case I've given you the impression that my life and career path have all fit together seamlessly, I earned my BS from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies; spent 13 months traveling in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, India, and Europe, and five months in South America; have worked as a waitress; a kindergarten teacher on Ford Ord military base; a customer support manager and assistant editor at CNET; a proofreader and copyeditor for Forbes ASAP magazine and; and an English instructor at West Valley College. I am also a meditation and bike-riding enthusiast.

I love learning more than almost anything else in life, and I look forward to exchanging knowledge and experiences with you soon.