Revolution Lullabye

July 6, 2009

Gold, Rhetoric at the Margins

Gold, David. Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2008.

Gold researches the rhetorical education that took place at three Texas institutions during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to challenge and complicate master narratives of current-traditional pedagogy and the history of rhetorical education, hoping to draw connections between past the past and present to develop pedagogies to serve underrepresented student populations. The three colleges – Wiley College (an classics-oriented HBCU), Texas Women’s University (residential college for women with vocational training), and East Texas Normal College (independent teacher-training school) – each employed a rhetorical education that was nuanced and spoke directly to the liberatory needs of their marginalized student populations. Gold’s introduction and conclusion explains his methodology of historiography and archival research, arguing that the future of the discipline lies in understanding its diverse pedagogical and theoretical (progressive movement) past. American higher education is decentralized, so local histories are necessary for understanding what happened in rhetorical education.

Quotable Quotes

“We cannot make broad claims about the development of rhetorical education without examining the diverse range of student bodies and institutions that participated in such education” … “It is often in provincial regions where demographic and social changes are first felt and where innovation and progressive change may first take place” (7).

“When it comes to rhetoric and composition studies, schools that have traditionally formed the basis for historical study may be among the least productive places to look” (7)

Current-traditional pedagogy is actually a collection of many practices: “both conservative and radical, liberatory and disciplining, and subject to wide-ranging local and institutional variation” (5).

Notable Notes

his study validates vocational, practical education – it is liberatory for some students

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