A Short History of Writing Instruction : From Ancient Greece to Contemporary America book cover
3rd Edition

A Short History of Writing Instruction
From Ancient Greece to Contemporary America

Edited By

James J. Murphy

ISBN 9780415897457
Published March 14, 2012 by Routledge
320 Pages

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Book Description

Short enough to be synoptic, yet long enough to be usefully detailed, A Short History of Writing Instruction is the ideal text for undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in rhetoric and composition. It preserves the legacy of writing instruction from antiquity to contemporary times with a unique focus on the material, educational, and institutional context of the Western rhetorical tradition. Its longitudinal approach enables students to track the recurrence over time of not only specific teaching methods, but also major issues such as social purpose, writing as power, the effect of technologies, the rise of vernaculars, and writing as a force for democratization.

The collection is rich in scholarship and critical perspectives, which is made accessible through the robust list of pedagogical tools included, such as the Key Concepts listed at the beginning of each chapter, and the Glossary of Key Terms and Bibliography for Further Study provided at the end of the text. Further additions include increased attention to orthography, or the physical aspects of the writing process, new material on high school instruction, sections on writing in the electronic age, and increased coverage of women rhetoricians and writing instruction of women. A new chapter on writing instruction in Late Medieval Europe was also added to augment coverage of the Middle Ages, fill the gap in students’ knowledge of the period, and present instructional methods that can be easily reproduced in the modern classroom.

Table of Contents

Ways to Read This Book: An Introduction, James J. Murphy

  1. Ancient Greek Writing Instruction and Its Oral Antecedents, Richard Leo Enos
  2. Roman Writing Instruction as Described by Quintilian, James J. Murphy
  3. Writing Instruction from Late Antiquity to the Twelfth Century, Carol Dana Lanham
  4. Writing Instruction in Late Medieval Europe, Martin Camargo and Marjorie Curry Woods
  5. Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric in the Renaissance, Don Paul Abbott
  6. Writing Instruction in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Great Britain: Continuity and Change, Transitions and Shifts, Linda Ferreira-Buckley
  7. From Rhetoric to Rhetorics: An Interim Report on the History of American Writing Instruction to 1900, Suzanne Bordelon, Elizabethada A. Wright, and S. Michael Halloran
  8. Writing Instruction in School and College English: The Twentieth Century and the New Millennium, David Gold, Catherine L. Hobbs, and James A. Berlin

Not a Conclusion, But an Epilogue, James J. Murphy

Glossary of Key Terms in the History of Writing Instruction

The Next Step in Your Research: A Bibliography for Further Study

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James J. Murphy is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English and the Department of Communication at the University of California, Davis.


"What a remarkable book, covering such a wide sweep of history. I've relied on it for decades, and now we have this fine revision.  It is an essential resource."

--Mike Rose, Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education

"A Short History of Writing Instruction is a thoroughly researched but broadly accessible collection of period pieces by noted historians. To help with the revisions, Editor James Murphy has enlisted David Gold and other younger historians who have helped expand the history of rhetoric and composition. The chapters provide detailed studies of pedagogy that are informed by the comparativist and materialist emphases of recent scholarship. The collection should be of particular interest to those who are interested in institutional and sociocultural histories and recent efforts to deepen our engagement with craft. The collection will provide a useful framework for seminars based on primary texts from varied sources."

--Thomas P. Miller, Professor in the English Department and in the Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English Program, University of Arizona

"I hope teachers of writing through all educational levels will be drawn to this volume by its title and will come away with a sense of the richness and complexity of speaking, reading, writing pedagogies in historically specific contexts. This collection makes a strong case for the value of investigating those histories for help with pressing questions about the role of the English teacher, the composition curriculum, and the rhetoric curriculum in our own historical movement."

--Susan C. Jarratt, Journal of Advanced Composition

"A Short History of Writing Instruction gives both an overview and a history of the practice that adds a dimension to the rhetorical theorists for future writing instructors.  Current writing instructors,busy in their heavy workloads, can profitably use this 'short history' as a review and a reminder of the course of knowledge that provides the foundation for the choices they now make.  After several years away from graduate school, I felt renewed in that knowledge by having read this book." 

--James H. Wilson, Issues in Writing