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Author(s): Kelly Ritter
Kelly Ritter uses materials from the archives at Harvard and Yale and contemporary theories of writing instruction to reconsider the definition of basic writing and basic writers within a socio-historical context.
Stock No.: 29243
“By focusing on basic writing at Yale and Harvard in the early to mid-twentieth century, the elegantly written Before Shaughnessy fills a historical gap in the disciplinary conversation and enriches our sense of basic writing by dismantling the stereotype of the ‘typical’ basic writer. Its fine-grained analyses of early basic writing programs hold far reaching consequences for the profession.”—Kristie S. Fleckenstein, author of Embodied Literacies: Imageword and a Poetics of Teaching
In Before Shaughnessy: Basic Writing at Yale and Harvard, 1920–1960, Kelly Ritter uses materials from the archives at Harvard and Yale and contemporary theories of writing instruction to reconsider the definition of basic writing and basic writers within a socio-historical context. Ritter challenges the association of basic writing with only poorly funded institutions and poorly prepared students.
Using Yale and Harvard as two sample case studies, Ritter shows that basic writing courses were alive and well, even in the Ivy League, in the early twentieth century. She argues not only that basic writers exist across institutional types and diverse student populations, but that the prevalence of these writers has existed far more historically than we generally acknowledge.
Uncovering this forgotten history of basic writing at elite institutions, Ritter contends that the politics and problems of the identification and the definition of basic writers and basic writing began long before the work of Mina Shaughnessy in Errors and Expectations and the rise of open admissions.
Kelly Ritter is an associate professor of English and director of composition at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. Her work on writing programs and writing pedagogy has appeared in several publications, including College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, and WPA: Writing Program Administration.
Studies in Writing & Rhetoric (SWR) series. 171 pp. 2009. College. NCTE/CCCC and Southern Illinois University Press.
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