Joyce Scholar Advanced Field of Technical Writing

By Vidonic, Bill | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Joyce Scholar Advanced Field of Technical Writing


Vidonic, Bill, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Erwin R. Steinberg was an expert in two genres of the written word that could be considered polar opposites: James Joyce and technical writing.

"Nobody could figure out how he could be an expert in the most complicated and complex stylist of the 20th century, and at the same time improve plain language practices in the workplace of the 20th century," said David Kaufer, professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.

Erwin R. Steinberg of Mt. Lebanon, who taught at CMU for 60 years, died of pneumonia on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in St. Clair Hospital, Mt. Lebanon. He was 91.

Mr. Steinberg joined Carnegie Institute of Technology, which would become CMU, in 1946, where he "invented the field of technical writing," Kaufer said.

He served as dean from 1960 to 1973 at Margaret Morrison Carnegie College, Carnegie Tech's school for women. Mr. Steinberg created a technical writing program "so that women could have a practical outlet for working, for staying creative and earning income after they graduated and often times got married," Kaufer said.

Mr. Steinberg served as dean of CMU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences from 1965 to 1975. From 1979 to 1981, he was director of Carnegie Mellon's Communications Design Center, founded after a push by President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s to make government documents understandable to the average citizen. …

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