A Short History of Writing Instruction

From Ancient Greece To Modern America, 2nd Edition

Edited by James J. Murphy

© 2001 – Routledge

344 pages

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Paperback: 9781880393307
pub: 2001-03-01
US Dollars$53.95

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

This volume provides a systematic historical survey of the methods and purposes of writing instruction in Western culture. The book traces the development of writing curricula from the earliest stages in ancient Greece to the standardization processes of the Roman period which dominated Western schools up to the 18th century. The next major sections outline the shift away from inherited European methods and the emergence of many competing purposes and methods in contemporary America.

While some other studies look at particular time periods or at certain issues, this book covers the entire development of writing instruction over a period of 2,500 years up to the present day. The longitudinal approach used enables the reader to track the recurrence over time of not only specific teaching methods but also such major issues as social purpose, writing as power, the effect of technologies, the rise of vernaculars, and writing as a force for democratization. The book concludes with 10 suggestions for further research to deepen understanding of the history of writing instruction.


"As far as being a history, it serves the purpose of a well-supported survey, close enough to a kind of history, and it is a successful one at that….Murphy's book gives both an overview and a history of 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."

Issues in Writing

Table of Contents

Contents: J.J. Murphy, Introduction. R.L. Enos, Ancient Greek Writing Instruction. J.J. Murphy, The Key Role of Habit in Roman Writing Instruction. C.D. Lanham, Writing Instruction From Late Antiquity to the Twelfth Century. M.C. Woods, The Teaching of Poetic Composition in the Later Middle Ages. D.P. Abbott, Rhetoric and Writing in the Renaissance. L. Ferreira-Buckley, W.B. Horner, Writing Instruction in Great Britain: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. E.A. Wright, S.M. Halloran, From Rhetoric to Composition: The Teaching of Writing in America to 1900. C.L. Hobbs, J.A. Berlin, A Century of Writing Instruction in School and College English. J.J. Murphy, Epilogue.

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