Testimonial Rhetoric in Nineteenth-Century Composition
Chapter Five Elizabeth Spalding: Fellow-Worker in Composition (Kathleen Spada)
Elizabeth Hill Spalding served as head of the English department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where she taught secondary English for eleven years at the turn of the twentieth century. She graduated from Vassar, a women’s college founded in 1861, which quickly “gained a reputation for intellectual rigor that led to the founding of the first chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at a women’s college,” for which Spalding was selected. As I will demonstrate in this chapter, Spalding epitomized the identity of the Vassar grad “recognized as a ‘breed apart’ for their independence of thought” (About). She married in 1888 and had a child shortly thereafter, but, unlike many women of the time, did not sacrifice her professional life. As a result, she was a successful teacher, lecturer, and author. It is not surprising, then, that she was in favor of woman’s suffrage and active in a number of women’s organizations, not the least of which was the Library League (newly formed in 1904). There is a pattern evident in this brief biography (Woman’s Who’s Who) where Spalding emerges as a progressive educator. As such, she was an excellent fit for the Pratt Institute.
The institute was founded by industrialist Charles Pratt in Brooklyn, New York at the end of the nineteenth century. Often described as a “self-made” man, Pratt had been successful in business despite the fact that he was not college educated. He felt an enormous sense of obligation to...
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