Tag Archives: rhetoric

“The Rise of Technical Writing Instruction in America” Robert J. Connors

Citation
Connors, Robert J. “The Rise of Technical Writing Instruction in America.” Ed. Stuart A. Selber. Central Works in Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-Eilola. New York: Oxford UP, 2004. 3-19. Print.
Summary

History of Technical Writing

Early Years (1895-1939): relatively new field being taught in college; Civil War had more people going to college–especially for engineering–that merited these courses; English teachers were soon to be in demand, but they felt they needed to “humanize” engineers, and so they received literary instruction along with writing instruction; no cooperation between English and engineering departments and it becomes more severe as time wears on

A Discipline Comes of Age (1940-1980): “engineering English” was gone from academia during WWII 1940-46; technical writing was an actual job because of its demand during WWII;  rhetoric and technical writing marry in late 1950’s; “reader-writer relationship” p 14;  other disciplines take advantage of technical writing; still, people who taught techwrit still wanted to teach lit because that was their background; 1970s finally found ground for technical writing as its own field

Quotations
“Sypherd complained bitterly that literature courses were too few and too little to matter, that freshman courses were ineffective, and that lack of writing in other engineering courses, bad student attitudes, and no interdepartmental cooperation had brought engineering English to a critical pass.” p 11
“During the fifties the importance of the profession of technical writing became apparent to industry, and colleges gave more serious consideration to turning out trained technical writers.”  p 13
“Technical writing teachers were not always rewarded by their departments, but many found freedom and credit in the 1970’s that had previously only been dreamt of.” p 17
Questions
Can the digital humanities study this timeline and make any inferences as to its own fate?
What major event on the scale of World War II could make the digital humanities boom by need?
Will or is technical writing its own department at some colleges and universities?
Works Cited
H.E. Hand, An Attempt to Measure Success in Technical Writing, Proceedings, ASEE, 72,  pp. 70-72, 1964.
J.A. Walter, Confessions of a Teacher of Technical Writing, The Technical Writing Teacher, 1,  pp. 5-6, 1973.
J.H. Wilson, Jr., Our Colleges Can Teach Writing–If They Are Made To, Proceedings, ASEE, 62,  pp. 431-435, 1955.
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“The Status of Composition and Rhetoric in American Colleges, 1880-1902: An MLA Perspective” Donald C. Stewart

Citation

Stewart, Donald C. “The Status of Composition and Rhetoric in American Colleges, 1880-1902: An MLA Perspective.” Norton Book of Composition Studies. Ed. Susan Miller. First ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. 129-140. Print.

Summary

Attitude that teaching composition is wearisome and not worth professors’ while. p 129

Some considered composition and/or rhetoric boring and just about grammar and spelling, while others considered one of the most important subjects as it teaches people to speak and write intelligently.

Bizarre that Pedagogical Section of MLA was removed because it wanted writing to be “natural and sincere, not phony and artificial” (138). Awesome!

MLA presidents from 1899-1904 were of the mind that the English is a living, breathing language, and that there were several misconceptions about the language p 132

Pro-teaching of rhetoric teachers advised teaching the history of rhetoric, history of English syntax, different ways to use language and how expert writers use it, and history of literary criticism. p 134

Committee’s report on The Century’s experiment on how test argument validity in writing had three findings: (1) there is much room to wander in unchartered territory, (2) the report was faulty, and (3) you must teach composition and not hope that students will absorb what they read: they need “structure.” p. 135-136

Teachers adapt their methods to that of their students’ abilities. This would include how and what is taught at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. p. 137

Quotations

“The association [MLA] was most certainly not a teacher’s agency nor was it centrally concerned with pedagogical problems.” p 132 James Bright’s papers.

“After reviewing the many responses they received [from the survey], the committee concluded that “Rhetoric” should be defined much more broadly than as ‘practical composition’ and ‘that the field thus opened will afford abundant opportunity for investigation by the serious student.'” p 135

Questions

What sections are current with the MLA?

What are the attitudes towards these findings in today’s MLA membership?

How does MLA and NCTE differ in their fundamental beliefs?

Works Cited

Hart, James Morgan. “The College Course in English Literature, How It May Be Improved.” PMLA os (1884-85): 84-95.

Mead, William E. “Conflicting Ideals in the Teaching of English Composition.” Report of the Pedagogical Section of the MLA, Proceedings of the MLA (1902): vviii-xxiii.