1st Edition

Landmark Essays on Speech and Writing

Edited By

Peter Elbow

ISBN 9780415641692
Published December 2, 2014 by Routledge
322 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

USD $69.95

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Book Description

Classical rhetoric was originally all about speech; then as the new technology emerged, it took an interest in writing. We are at a kind of mirror moment now. The present field of composition and rhetoric has been preoccupied with writing for the last fifty or more years, but scholars are looking once again at speech and how it relates to writing.

At this moment, then, we are inheritors of research showing that writing can be thought of as different and yet not different from speech. In this Landmark Essays volume, Peter Elbow, a leading expert on speech and writing, gathers a selection of classic essays that show the main streams of thinking that scholars have published about speech and writing. Through the interdisciplinary essays included, he invites readers to think critically about the relationship between speech, writing, and our notion of literacy.

Table of Contents


Section 1: Historical Stories about the Development and Effects of Alphabetic Literacy

  1. Denise Schmandt-Besserat and Michael Erard, Origins and Forms of Writing (2007)
  2. Richard Leo Enos, The Emergence of a Literate Rhetoric in Greece (2006)
  3. Jack Goody and Ian Watt, The Consequences of Literacy (1963)
  4. Walter J. Ong, Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought (1986/2001)
  5. Beth Daniell, Narratives of Literacy (1999)
  6. Lee Honeycutt, Literacy and the Writing Voice: The Intersection of Culture and Technology in Dictation (2004)
  7. Section 2: Analyses of How Speech and Writing Relate to Each Other

  8. Douglas Biber and Camilla Vásquez, Writing and Speaking (2007)
  9. M. A. K. Halliday, Spoken and Written Modes of Meaning (1987)
  10. Peter Elbow, The Shifting Relationships Between Speech and Writing (1985
  11. Wallace Chafe, Punctuation and the Prosody of Written Language (1988)
  12. Deborah Tannen, Relative Focus on Involvement in Oral and Written Discourse (1985)
  13. Geneva Smitherman, "The Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice": African American Student Writers and the NAEP (1994)

Section 3: Explorations of Some Features of Speech with a Special Relevance to Writing

13. Jim Milroy, Historical Description and the Ideology of the Standard Language (2000)

14. Peter Elbow, Intonation: A Virtue for Writing at the Root of Everyday Speech (2012)

Appendix: Writers Trying to Create the Illusion of Speech: A Selection of Brief Passages


Robert Burns, from "To A Mouse. On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough" (1785)

Mark Twain, from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

Robert Frost, from "The Death of the Hired Man" (1917)

Zora Neale Hurston, from Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

Jozuf Hadley (bradajo), "chaloookyu eensai" (1972/2002)

Juliet Kono, from "A Scolding from My Father" (1995)

David Mamet, a link to a passage from Glengarry Glen Ross (1984)

Louise Bennett, from "Aunt Roachy She" (1993)

James Kelman, from How Late It Was, How Late (1998)

Alan Bennett, from Talking Heads (2008)

Laura Wright, from "Medieval Business English" (2001)


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Peter Elbow is Professor of English, Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and former director of its Writing Program


Landmark Essays on Speech and Writing highlights some of the fascinating differences between the two modes: Not everyone learns to write, but nearly everyone learns to speak. This book examines these differences and more at great depth." - Steven Darian, STC Fellow