A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to Contemporary America

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James J. Murphy
Routledge, May 4, 2012 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 320 pages
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Short enough to be synoptic, yet long enough to be usefully detailed, A Short History of Writing Instruction is the ideal text for undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in rhetoric and composition. It preserves the legacy of writing instruction from antiquity to contemporary times with a unique focus on the material, educational, and institutional context of the Western rhetorical tradition. Its longitudinal approach enables students to track the recurrence over time of not only specific teaching methods, but also major issues such as social purpose, writing as power, the effect of technologies, the rise of vernaculars, and writing as a force for democratization.

The collection is rich in scholarship and critical perspectives, which is made accessible through the robust list of pedagogical tools included, such as the Key Concepts listed at the beginning of each chapter, and the Glossary of Key Terms and Bibliography for Further Study provided at the end of the text. Further additions include increased attention to orthography, or the physical aspects of the writing process, new material on high school instruction, sections on writing in the electronic age, and increased coverage of women rhetoricians and writing instruction of women. A new chapter on writing instruction in Late Medieval Europe was also added to augment coverage of the Middle Ages, fill the gap in students’ knowledge of the period, and present instructional methods that can be easily reproduced in the modern classroom.


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Ways to Read This Book
Writing and Power
The Physical Difficulty of Writing
Chapter 1
Issues of Historiography and Writing Instruction in Ancient Greece
The Homeric Tradition of Oral Education and Writing Instruction
The Emergence of PreAlphabetic Writing Instruction in Bronze Age Greece
Methods of Writing Instruction
Language Exercises and Grammatical Study
The Belletristic Approach
The Lecture System as Writing Instruction
The Role of Examinations and Themes in Writing Instruction
StudentCentered Authentic Writing
Responses to Writing

Writing Instruction for CrossCultural Communication
The Revolution of Writing Instruction During the Archaic Period
Artists and Artisans
Writing Instruction in the Service of Orality
Writing Instruction in Ancient Athens after 450 BCE and the Ratio Isocratea
Rival Illustrations of Greek Writing Instruction
Suggested Readings and References
Chapter 2
Social Engineering in the Classroom
The Roman Transition to Systematic Rhetorical Education
The Search for Future Language
Roman Teaching Methods
Appendix Overview of Roman Teaching Methods Described in the Institutio oratoria
Chapter 3
The Social Cultural and Political Background
A Survey of the Sources
Structure Content and Methods
The Medieval Art of LetterWriting
Chapter 4
Setting the Stage
Texts and Exercises
Medieval and Modern Instruction
Appendix A Composition exercises and examples in Geoffrey of Vinsaufs Poetria nova ca 12001215
Appendix B
Appendix C
Chapter 5
The English Grammar School
Oratorical Form and the Written Text
Imitation and Invention
The Jesuit Plan of Studies
The Female Voice in Renaissance Education
Renaissance Rhetoric in the TwentyFirst Century
Chapter 6
Local Vernaculars Proper English and the Ancient Languages
Education in the British Isles
Writing Instruction for Working Men and Women
Educational Reform in the Closing Decades of NineteenthCentury Britain
Female Education
Chapter 7
Early American Writing Instruction
Writing Instruction in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century
Continuing the Project of Revising Our Stories
Appendix A Assignment from notebook of May E Wilkin
Appendix B Minutes of the Erosophian Society of California State Normal School Feb 13 1874 featuring a union meeting and a public debate with te...
Chapter 8
Writing as a Site of Contestation
Twentieth Century Beginnings
Between the Wars
The New Millennium
Over a Century of Change
Further Reading
Not a Conclusion But an Epilogue
Comparative Studies
Research Tools
The Role of Women
The Role of Textbooks
The Influence of Quintilian
The History of English Departments
Vernacular versus Latin
Old and New Technologies
Glossary of Key Terms in the History of Writing Instruction
A Bibliography for Further Study

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About the author (2012)

James J. Murphy is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English and the Department of Communication at the University of California, Davis.

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