Testimonial Rhetoric in Nineteenth-Century Composition
About the book
About the book
In 2015, Professor Emerita Lucille M. Schultz donated to the University of Cincinnati her set of composition materials gathered from fifteen collections around the country. With 350 entries ranging from 1785 to 1916, her archive includes picture books for primary schools, grammar textbooks, student writing, and advanced rhetoric textbooks for undergraduates. The documents afford a thrilling glimpse into nineteenth-century ways of thinking and teaching, highlighting practices we would today identify as freewriting, collaborative invention, and object-oriented pedagogy. Composing Legacies relates these pedagogies to expressions of social class, nationalism, and public engagement that run throughout the Victorian and Gilded Ages. Early chapters show how grammar handbooks aimed to reproduce social hierarchies; later ones show how teachers aimed to mitigate lecture-style pedagogy with attention to student backgrounds and economic aspirations. Textbook authors demonstrated a pronounced interest in national unity, but not without exception. Little-known Confederate textbooks perceived the rhetoric of unity as a form of Northern aggression, maintaining state traditions through classroom exercises and sample passages. Composition scholars who see the nineteenth-century as a period of skills-and-drills teaching, devoid of political concern, will find surprises in the archive’s testimonies; they will also find that the “social turn” in writing and rhetoric, however recent as a historical framework, has been underway for more than two hundred years.
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