The general education curriculum was used to counter the ills of the Depression and political threats from abroad just before WWII. Led by Harvard, colleges began to offer “liberal studies and professional specialization to safeguard the American way of life.”
General Semantics had the greatest impact on communication courses, in an attempt to “apply scientific empiricism to the study of language.” It was used before WWII to “analysis propaganda of fascist states.” This gave way to “organism-as-a-whole” principle. A whole or partial stimulus can cause a whole response. Language and words are abstract, yet have the ability to produces responses. Language is limited and can never represent the whole thing. General Semantics = the ladder of abstraction, consciousness of abstraction, and figures of speech.
2 WWII impacts on communication courses:
1. Enrollment increased due to veterans return. Use of writing clinics.
2. the Army Specialized Training Personnel effort. English course set up for recruit on college campuses that taught reading, writing, and speaking. (95-96)
Most noted program was at the State University of Iowa. This was followed by a push around the country in the development of communication skills courses the emphasized reading, writing, speaking, and listening with attention directed to students “differences and needs” (97-99). This focus was “language and effective communication” not literature or social science. Diagnostic tests were given.
Communication course maintained reading, writing, and speaking but were influenced by psychological theory. Graduate students called clinicians. Writing classes were clinics. Students who were non-writers were dealing with “blocked fears.” Non-directive counseling.
In 1949, first conference. Chicago, Il.
The importance of freshman comp. was the main issue. Addressed the need for professional identity. With the creation of CCCC and the College Composition and Communcation, teacher of composition began to seek full membership in English departments (tenure, promotions, higher salaries, etc.) This was not widely excepted until later.
In the 40’s and 50’s, Literature was later offer at subjects for composition courses. Response to Cold War political climate. Literacy education was offer also as a “political benefit.” “Good citizens through literature.”
Structural linguistics brought “scientific insight of social habits” to writing classes. Theorist disagreed on the many approaches.
60’s and 70’s—New Rhetoric
Emphasis on the writing process began. Rhetoric answer the call of Barriss Mills (1953) for writing course based on writing processes (writing, revision, editing, etc.) Yet the call continued to ending freshman composition courses which were financial drains on English departments. They wanted high schools to teach the students before they enrolled in college. Faculty could direct their attentions to other issues. Agreement was reached to keep composition course and develop relations with high school teachers to better facilitate the writing needs of the students. Writing prep courses developed for high school teachers.
There was a lack of Rhetorical professions to teach students of the major and graduates. Wayne C. Booth asserted that English Departments were “neglecting their duty.”
The NCTE publication influenced rhetoric and writing at colleges. Scholars pushed for a new rhetoric and should be the subject of writing courses.
Steinmann defines 5 types of rhetorical research (132).
Major Rhetorical Approaches (139):
Rhetoric of Cognitive Psychology
Conclusion: look toward the future.