Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composition

Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composition

Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composition

Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composition

Synopsis

Authoring a Discipline traces the post-World War II emergence of rhetoric and composition as a discipline within departments of English in institutions of higher education in the United States. Goggin brings to light both the evolution of this discipline and many of the key individuals involved in its development. Drawing on archival and oral evidence, this history offers a comprehensive and systematic investigation of scholarly journals, the editors who directed them, and the authors who contributed to them, demonstrating the influence that publications and participants have had in the emergence of rhetoric and composition as an independent field of study. Goggin considers the complex struggles in which scholars and teachers engaged to stake ground and to construct a professional and disciplinary identity. She identifies major debates and controversies that ignited as the discipline emerged and analyzes how the editors and contributors to the major scholarly journals helped to shape, and in turn were shaped by, the field of rhetoric and composition. She also coins a new term--discipliniographer--to describe those who write the field through authoring and authorizing work, thus creating the social and political contexts in which the discipline emerged. The research presented here demonstrates clearly how disciplines are social products, born of political struggles for both intellectual and material spaces.

Excerpt

The rhetorician must know more about history, and the historian must know more about rhetoric.

--Everett Lee Hunt (173)

This book traces the post-World War II emergence of rhetoric and composition as a discipline within departments of English in U.S. institutions of higher education. It examines the disciplinary formation through the lens of one of the most important vehicles for this field, its scholarly journals. Covering a forty-year span between 1950 and 1990, this history treats some of the complex struggles in which scholars and teachers have engaged to stake a ground and construct a professional and disciplinary identity. in short, this book identifies major debates and controversies ignited as the discipline emerged, traces issues and principles that have been foregrounded, and analyzes how those who directed the journals and those who contributed to them helped to shape, and in turn were shaped by, the field of rhetoric and composition.

As is now commonplace for historians, let me say this is not the history of the disciplinary formation but one story of many to be told. It is perhaps easier to say what a book is not rather than what it is, the temptation simply to retell its story being too great. Here then is what this book is not. First, this is not a history of writing instruction. Many excellent histories have been, and are still being, written about this important part of our past and present. Among the more recent exemplars are Robert Connors Composition-Rhetoric, Sharon Crowley's Composition in the University, Joseph Harris A Teaching Subject, and John Brereton The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College, 1875-1925. These have taken their place alongside the foundational book-length histories by Albert Kitzhaber, Arthur Applebee, James Berlin, Nan Johnson, Susan Miller, and David Russell. Second, this is not an intellectual history or a history of ideas. Fine histories in this vein have been written. Among them, Martin Nystrand, Stuart Greene, and Jeffrey Wiemelt provided an excellent account of some of the various schools of thought that have influenced . . .

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