English @ OU

Composition: History & Theory

Timeline Introduction

This project, an interactive timeline inspired by the 1988 Rhetoric Review article “The Politics of Historiography,” pieces together histories of Rhetoric and Composition in the United States from 1600 to the present while weaving together the works of rhetoricians, educational theorists, and journal contributors, including: Lawrence Cremin, Albert Kitzhaber, Robert Connors, James Berlin, Joel Spring, Gerald Graff, and a variety of scholars in English Studies. Under the guidance of Dr. Mara Holt, Ohio University graduate students and teachers have created a dialectical history as well as a valuable resource for newcomers to rhetoric and composition who, like us, knew little about the history of our field (as Rhetoric and Composition scholars) or our profession (as Freshman Composition instructors) when we entered our respective graduate programs at Ohio University. This interactive timeline is the result of a series of questions from our colleagues in the English Department (and across the curriculum):

  1. How have cultural forces outside of the academy influenced the department, and, by association, the teaching (and some might argue devaluation and/or feminization) of composition?
  2. Can we ever claim to achieve a definitive narrative of our professional past when history is made of collective actions as the result of collective voices interpreted (most often) by singular scholars limited by a single theoretical lens?
  3. How do English Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, and Creative Writing scholars and theorists coexist in a department historically focused on professionalization and specialization?

Organization: The timeline, which is organized as a series of hypertext documents that allow for a (non)linear reading of the material, covers the following categories: Cultural Context, Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education, Developments in Post-Secondary Education, The State of the “English” Department, Theory and the Composition Classroom, Major Publications, The Journals, and Profiles.

  • Cultural Context includes important dates, events, and social and political movements during the time period.
  • Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education covers both pedagogical and theoretical approaches to K-12th grade students (as well as a discussion of the varying political and social motives that some historians and theorists connect to these developments).
  • The section Developments in Post-Secondary Education focuses on the development and professionalization of higher education, with attention to the social, political, and material conditions of undergraduates, graduate students, administration, and faculty members.
  • The State of the "English" Department examines the hierarchical struggles between literary, creative, and composition studies in each time period while Theory and the Composition Classroom pays attention to the dominant theories, pedagogies, and criticisms surrounding composition studies (particularly Freshman English/Composition courses).
  • The Journals section provides the reader with a glimpse between the covers of contemporary editions of English Journal, College English, and others (including KAIROS…) in order to provide a scholarly contrast to the realities of the classroom.
  • Profiles, perhaps the most “traditional” section of each period in the timeline, provides readers with biographical information for major theorists and scholars whose work we discuss in detail.

The timeline may be read in a linear fashion, from 1600 to the present, or it may be reorganized by any of the categories listed above to allow scholars to focus on one aspect of the history of English and Composition Studies.

Unlike Albert Kitzhaber’s dissertation, a seminal work of Composition Studies in its day which was photocopied and passed from person to person--knowledge made virtually inaccessible by its textual, material form--we hope that this project, through utilizing new media form, design, and accessibility, will be available to anyone interested in the history of education in the United States and will be of particular value for Rhetoric and Composition scholars and teachers who yearn for an aesthetically pleasing, navigable, and, above all, comprehensible view of the history of their profession and the cultural influences that have shaped the field into what it is today.

Project Direction:

Dr. Mara Holt, Rhetoric and Composition, Ohio University

Project Design:

Daoine Bachran, English Literature MA & Computer Consultant, Ohio University
Rebecca Butorac, Rhetoric and Composition MA candidate

Project Authors:

Claudia Auger, MA Candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Ashley Barner, MA candidate: Literature
Yavanna Brownlee, PhD: Rhetoric and Composition
Rebecca Butorac, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Russell Crooks, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Marlene De La Cruz, PhD candidate: Literature
Ashley Evans, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Kate Firestone, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Hillery Glasby, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Amanda Hayes, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Jonathan Holmes, MA candidate: Literary History and Rhetoric and Composition
Michael Johnson, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Melanie Lee, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Bryan Lutz, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Brianna Mauk, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Talitha May, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Courtney McCann, MA: Literature
Lydia McDermott, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Heather McFall, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Craig A. Meyer, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Samantha Mudd, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Julie Nelson, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Matthew Nunes, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Lana Oweidat, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Rachael Ryerson, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Rebecca Cox, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Brett Pransky, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Christopher A. Sims, PhD candidate: English Literature
Alison Stine, PhD candidate: Creative Writing
Laurie Sledgianowski, MA Candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Todd Snyder, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Wendy VanDellon, MA candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Matthew Vetter, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
John Wicker, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition
Siyang Zhou, PhD candidate: Rhetoric and Composition


Timeline

± 1600-1699

Cultural Context

Colonial America

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± 1700-1799

Cultural Context

Growing National Identities

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± 1800-1865

± 1865-1899

± 1900-1919

± 1920-1929

Cultural Context

The Roaring Twenties

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

± The Journals

± Profiles

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± 1930-1939

Cultural Context

1930-39

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

± The Journals

± Profiles

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± 1940-1949

± 1950-1959

± 1960-1969

± 1970-1979

± 1980-1989

Cultural Context

1980-89

A Nation at Risk

Women in Composition

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

± The Journals

± Profiles

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± 1990-1999

Cultural Context

1990-99

African American Voices in Composition

Deconstructing Multiculturalism

Professing Multiculturalism

The State of National Service

The Technological Explosion

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

Trimbur, John. “Taking the Social Turn: Teaching Writing Post-Process.” College Composition and Communication 45.1 (1994):108–18

“The Subject Is Discourse” by John Clifford

Connors, Robert J. Composition-Rhetoric: Backgrounds, Theory, and Pedagogy (1997)

Cushman, Ellen “The Public Intellectual, Service Learning, and Activist Research” (1999)

Harris, Joseph. A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966 (1997)

Hawisher, Gail E., et al. Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education (1996)

Lester Faigley (1992), Fragments of Rationality

Linda Flower, “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing”

Professing Multiculturalism: The Politics of Style in the Contact Zone

Myers, D.G. The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880 (1996)

Octalog II. “The (Continuing) Politics of Historiography.” Rhetoric Review 16 (1997): 22-44.

Paul Kei Matsuda’s “Composition Studies and ESL Writing: A Disciplinary Division of Labor”

Reynolds, Nedra. “Composition’s Imagined Geographies: The politics of Space in the Frontier...”

Ritchie, Joy S. and Kathleen Boardman “Feminism in Composition: Inclusion, Metonymy, and Disruption”

Royster, Jacqueline Jones and Jean C. Williams. “History in the Spaces Left...”

Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own.” (1996)

Vandenberg, Peter. “Taming Multiculturalism: The Will to Literacy in Composition Studies.” (1999)

Villanueva, Victor. “On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism.” (1996)

± The Journals

± Profiles

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± 2000-2009

Cultural Context

2000-09

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

± The Journals

± Profiles

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± 2010-2019

Cultural Context

2010-2019

± Developments in Elementary/Secondary Education

± Developments in Postsecondary Education

± The State of the "English" Department

± Theory and the Composition Classroom

± Major Publications

± The Journals

± Profiles

Bibliography

± Sources

This is adapapted directly from John Whicker’s article “Narratives, Metaphors, and Power-Moves: The History, Meanings, and Implications of “Post-Process.” JAC (Forthcoming 2011)

John Trimbur’s 1994 review essay, ‘Taking the Social Turn: Teaching Writing Post-Process,’” while interesting in itself, has become more important for rhetoric and composition than most reviews because it introduced the term “post-process” into the literature. Trimbur uses the term to describe

“the “social turn” of the 1980s, a post-process, post-cognitivist theory and pedagogy that represent literacy as an ideological arena and composing as a cultural activity by which writers position and reposition themselves in relation to their own and others’ subjectivities, discourses, practices, and institutions” (109).

Trimbur, however, does not use the term as a category or intended movement. He does classify the reviewed books (Bizzell’s Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness, Knoblauch and Brannon’s Critical Teaching and the Idea of Literacy, and Spellmeyer’s Common Ground: Dialogue, Understanding, and the Teaching of Composition) as originating “from a crisis within the process paradigm and a growing disillusion with its limits and pressures” (109).

Trimbur indicates in his review that he bases the “post” of post-process in the fact that these authors “make their arguments not so much in terms of students’ reading and writing processes but rather in terms of the cultural politics of literacy” (109). In other words, by “post-process” Trimbur means a turning away from process as the primary framework for understanding writing. Trimbur critiques process for ignoring the social aspects of writing (which allows later “post-process” scholars to connect post-process to all social critiques of process). Trimbur’s “post” does not seem to indicate any level of rejection of process, but only a complaint. Trimbur even explicitly states that his purpose is “not to accuse the process movement of self-deception” nor “to slight the contributions that composing researchers have made to the way we understand and teach writing” (110). Trimbur is not seeking to replace process pedagogies but to privilege social theories and pedagogies, many of which also make use of process pedagogies.


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