Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary Olson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lynn Worsham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joan Kaywell, Ph.D.


rhetoric, teacher-training, disciplinarity, modern language association, national council of teachers of english, conference on college composition and communication


The preparation of new college teachers of composition has been a disciplinary topic of interest as well as an institutional concern since the establishment in the late 1800s of the modern English department. In this project, I offer a critical history of the treatment of the topic of the preparation of teachers of college composition by the three most historically significant organizations to English as a discipline and Composition as a field of study within that discipline: the Modern Language Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. By analyzing the treatment of the topic of the preparation college teachers of composition by the major publications of these three organizations during their formative years, I provide a topic specific history of the marginalization of composition within the discipline and its organizations. This project expands on the work of individuals such as James Berlin, Albert Kitzhaber, Stephen North, Robert Connors, and others who have written on the historical marginalization of composition within the discipline and Academy and offers a more specific interrogation of the position of composition within the discipline and the Academy in general.

In my work, I argue that the contemporaneous founding of the modern English department and the Modern Language Association allowed for the institutionalized relegation to a low status of composition and teachers of composition. That institutionalized low status eventually led to the marginalization, fractionalization, and specialization of a group of composition scholars who believed teaching to be a central concern for the discipline, as well as to the development of NCTE and CCCC. I further argue that a similar fractionalization and specialization within these smaller groups has left intact the institutionalized notions of status that led to their formation in the first place. I conclude by suggesting that in order to raise the status of composition in the discipline and the Academy, it is necessary to address the sources of marginalization directly as opposed to fractionalizing and specializing in reaction to it.