Pedagogical strategies stimulated by the resurgence and redirection of writing instruction since the late 1950s have matured and broadened as a result of both thoughtful reflection on actual class practice and increasingly complex theoretical connections. The articles in this collection provide evidence of the value of these strategies in classes in all disciplines. Inevitably (and appropriately) these strategies have been altered to suit their new contexts, but their roots remain firmly embedded in innovative practices developed first for the writing classroom.
Writing instruction occupies a unique place in education. Its ancestors—Greek, Roman, and medieval rhetoric—were far more theoretical than practical in their approaches to their subject. But beginning with lists and discussions of figures and tropes and with treatises on letter writing in the late Middle Ages, rhetoric began a move toward the pragmatic which steadily, although not consistently, focused on prescriptive instruction. In the early years in this country, such instruction acquired the label of “current-traditional.” In the “current-traditional” classroom, students analyzed texts structured more or less according to certain patterns and then were given assignments to create their own texts built on these same patterns. Form and formula, for the most part, took precedence over content and subject matter.
However, when rhetoric in a more classical sense reentered the picture, it came with a heavy emphasis on invention—an aspect of rhetoric which teachers and scholars realized was being shortchanged. This emphasis on invention, in turn, led practitioners to begin to ponder the mys-