chapter  4
34 Pages

FRUITS OF THE GARDEN, 1980–1990

The early 1980s saw the fruits of disciplinary forums such as the NEH summer and yearlong seminars. The schedule for the 1981 summer NEH seminars provides a sense of the range of topics and methodological approaches attended to in these courses: Edward P.J.Corbett offered Rhetoric and Public Discourse at Ohio State University; William Irmscher offered Contrastive Analysis of Various Approaches to Teaching Composition at the University of Washington; James Sledd offered The Literacy Crisis and the Politics of Education at the University of Texas at Austin; Joseph Williams offered Style and the Structure of Discourse at the University of Chicago; and Richard Young offered Rhetoric: Modern Developments in the Art of Invention at Carnegie Mellon University. These hothouses encouraged important historical, theoretical, speculative, and empirical work in rhetoric and composition. For example, Sharon Crowley dedicated her landmark work, Methodical Memory, to Edward P.J.Corbett, and specifically acknowledged “friends and colleagues in Ed Corbett’s 1981 NEH seminar on the history of rhetoric” for their “conversations and collegiality” (xvii). James Berlin did much of the groundwork that resulted in both his Writing Instruction in Nineteenth-Century American Colleges and Rhetoric and Reality while he was in Richard Young’s 1978-79 NEH seminar. Victor Vitanza credited his participation in the same seminar with planting the seed that led to his founding Pre/Text (Vitanza, “Retrospective” xvii). Ede and Lunsford traced the genesis of their germinal article “Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked” also to this very same seminar, noting that “one of us [Lisa Ede] became interested in the concept of audience during an NEH Seminar” (167).