The Formation of College English

Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the British Cultural Provinces

An original work stuffed with data and scholarship about early college-level instruction in the English language. . . . The Formation of College English has excellent chapters on the teaching of language and literacy in Scottish and Irish universities and in English universities and dissenting academies. . . .The book also contains excellent chapters on the contributions made to literary studies by Adam Smith, George Campbell, and Hugh Blair. These chapters are so comprehensive—and so good—that they can profitably be read by graduate students as introductions to the rhetorical and cultural work of these canonical figures . . . anyone who is interested in the future of English studies ought to read this superb exploration of its past.
College Composition and Communication

In the middle of the eighteenth century, English literature, composition, and rhetoric were introduced almost simultaneously into colleges throughout the British cultural provinces. Professorships of rhetoric and belles lettres were established just as print was reaching a growing reading public and efforts were being made to standardize educated taste and usage. The provinces saw English studies as a means to upward social mobility through cultural assimilation. In the educational centers of England, however, the introduction of English represented a literacy crisis brought on by provincial institutions that had failed to maintain classical texts and learned languages.
Today, as rhetoric and composition have become reestablished in the humanities in American colleges, English studies are being broadly transformed by cultural studies, community literacies, and political controversies. Once again, English departments that are primarily departments of literature see these basic writing courses as a sign of a literacy crisis that is undermining the classics of literature. The Formation of College English reexamines the civic concerns of rhetoric and the politics that have shaped and continue to shape college English.

360 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

February, 1997

isbn : 9780822956235

about the author

Thomas P. Miller

Thomas P. Miller is associate provost for faculty affairs at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the author of The Formation of College English: Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the British Cultural Provinces, a winner of the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize.

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Thomas P. Miller