A Selective Bibliography of Influential Works on James Moffett

Compiled by Jonathan M. Marine

A quick perusal of Google Scholar shows that Moffett's works have been cited more than twelve thousand times in total. Accordingly, this bibliography is in no way representative of the full range of publications which have taken up Moffett's work. Instead, it is a selection of the most impactful and important works on or about Moffett both personally and professionally. The bibliography has three parts: it begins with some of the foremost historical and scholarly works on Moffett, and then presents the articles published in an important 2010 special issue dedicated to Moffett in the journal Changing English before rounding out with a selection of personal memoirs and reminiscences published shortly after his untimely passing in 1996.

Influential Scholarly and Historical Works on James Moffett

Blau, Sheridan. “Theory for Practice: James Moffett's Seminal Contribution to Composition.” In P. Lambert Stock (Ed.), Composition's Roots in English Education, Portsmouth, NH: Boynton, (2011): 81-104.     

Arguably the most comprehensive scholarly and historical account of Moffett's career and life, Blau's chapter uses biographical context to frame Moffett's unique contributions to the fields of Composition and English Education. Containing sections on Moffett's early life and upbringing, his "indelible discourse scheman," his time at the 1966 Dartmouth conference, and his impact on the National Writing Project, Blau movingly constructs a portrait of Moffett as a prescient figure whose influence on the emergence of Composition as a discipline was "ubiquitous, unavoidable, and probably perpetually relevant in a way that can be claimed by almost no other figure in the modern history of research and theory in composition and rhetoric."

Durst, Russel K. "The Stormy Times of James Moffett." English Education, vol. 47, no. 2, (2015): 111-130.

Durst's article centers on the censorship battles in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in the 1970s, where Moffett's innovative textbook series, Interaction, was opposed by local and national conservative activists, ultimately presenting it as a pivotal moment in which the trajectory of Moffett's career changed irrevocably. The article explores Moffett's response to the Kanawha County protests and his attempt to understand the protestor's beliefs a decade later in his book, Storm in the Mountains, as well as the event's impact on his later life and career.

Rijlaarsdam, Gert, et al. "Observation of peers in learning to write, practice and research." Journal of Writing Research, vol. 1, no. 1, (2008): 53-83.

While Moffett is not the primary focus of this work, this highly-cited article presents an experimental study of observational language learning predicated explicitly on Moffett's theoretical principles. It remains a unique testament to Moffett's work in that it seeks to empirically test his ideas about language learning in a tightly-conceived study of classroom teaching and learning which includes a detailed account of a fully realized language learning activity, the Yummy Yummy Experiment.

Spalding, Elizabeth, Damian C. Koshnick, and Miles Myers. "James Moffett's Legacy to English Journal." English Journal, vol. 101, no. 3, (2012): 26-33.

Spalding, Koshnick, and Myers explore Moffett's work and contributions to NCTE's English Journal, in which Moffett not only published several articles, but also influenced many of the conversations therein starting in the mid-1960's. The authors also discuss Moffett's conception of language learning as predicated on social interaction and his views on "the role of literacy in tackling socio-political complexities of multiculturalism."

Warnock, J. James Moffett. In M. G. Moran & M. Ballif (Eds.), Twentieth Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, (2000): 258-265.

A short but compelling account of Moffett's life and contributions to rhetoric, Warnock's chapter conceives of Moffett as a unique figure "occupying an intellectual and vocational position outside established institutions" who had an immense impact on early researchers and theorists in rhetoric and composition.

Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education. Vol. 17, Issue 3 - Special Issue on James Moffett

The 2010 Changing English special issue entitled "Re-reading James Moffett" marked an important moment of reconsideration of Moffett's ideas and legacy, and remains the only special issue of a journal dedicated to him since his passing. In it, many notable authorities on Moffett both recount the historical emergence and impact of his ideas and try to gauge how they might apply in contemporary contexts.

Green, Bill, Wayne Sawyer, and Tony Burgess. "Re-reading James Moffett." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 237-240.

In the editorial introduction to the special issue, editors Bill Green, Wayne Sawyer, and Tony Burgess take up Moffett's contributions in the "changing conditions of both English teaching and educational publishing" in order to argue for his enduring value to modern teachers and educators. 

Paré, Anthony. "Discourse and Social Action: Moffett and the New Rhetoric." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 241-250.

Anthony Pare traces the impact of Moffett's interest in discourse and rhetoric on rhetorical genre theory and the language-as-social-action movement within the broader context of his "radically reconceived approach to education."

Andrews, Richard. "Moffett and Rhetoric." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 251-260.

Richard Andrews contends that Moffett's introduction of rhetoric into debates about K-12 English was a critical moment which helped to move rhetoric beyond the art of persuasion and toward a "larger rhetoric of behavior" with a basis in drama, dialogue, and dialectic.

Burgess, Tony, Viv Ellis, and Sarah Roberts. "‘How One Learns to Discourse’: Writing and Abstraction in the Work of James Moffett and James Britton." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 261-274.

Tony Burgess, Viv Ellis and Sarah Roberts seek to "rescue" Moffett's and Britton's work from "being characterized as no more than a 'failed progressivism" and reframe it as an important early contribution to our understanding of writing development.

Dixon, John. "Dialogue and Theory: On James Moffett's Work in English Teaching and Language Education." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 275-284.

Dixon juxtapositions Moffett's "structuralist impulse" to divide the universe of discourse into four related levels (drama, narrative, exposition, and argumentation) against Moffett's framing of the exchange between particularizing and generalizing in order to illuminate the profound value of his theory of language learning for teachers of the language arts. 

Sawyer, Wayne. "Structuring the New English in Australia: James Moffett and English Teaching in New South Wales." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 285-296.

Sawyer examines the influence of Moffett's ideas on education in Australia in order to demonstrate how Moffett's theories of language development and rhetoric were "operationalized" within a longitudinal curriculum first in the 1970's using Teaching the Universe of Discourse and into the 1980's with Active Voice (Volumes I-IV).

Beavis, Catherine. "'A Chart for Further Exploration and a Kind of Rallying Call': James Moffett and English Curriculum History in Victoria." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 297-307.

Demonstrating how Moffett's became known initially in teacher education "at the University of Melbourne and the State College of Victoria," Catherine Beavis highlights key moments in Australian education in the 1970s within the broader context of the historical development of language education in Australia and urges a consideration of how Moffett's work might still act as a rallying call today.

Mayher, John. "Liberating Literacy Under Threat: Re-reading James Moffett's Storm in the Mountains." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 309-314.

Mayher argues that contemporary censorship efforts continue to stem from what Moffett called agnosia, "a fear of knowing about anything that might challenge the conventional conservative verities," and encourages an understanding of censorship in this way in order to appreciate the continuing relevance of Moffett's experience as expressed in his 1988 book, Storm in the Mountains.

Green, Bill. "Re-reading James Moffett: Discourse, Rhetoric, Subjectivity." Changing English, vol. 17, no. 3, (2010): 315-329.

Green presents a 'deconstructive" account of Moffett's key texts and their uptake of dialogue, difference, and discourse in order to "tease out contradictions and ambivalences in Moffett's writing" and more sharply frame the role of subjectivity in Moffett's ideas and work.

Memoirs and Personal Reminiscences

Foehr, Regina, et al. "A Tribute to James Moffett." The Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, vol. 3, no. 1, (1997): 1-12.

Moffett played an important role in the founding of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning (AEPL) both as an intellectual inspiration and its first member. In this article, Regina Foehr, Miles Myers, Don Gallehr, Richard Graves, Sheridan Blau, and Betty Jane Wagner, all of whom knew and worked closely with Moffett, pay tribute to his life, influence, and impact.

Wagner, Betty Jane, and Jim Gray. "Reflective Tributes to James Moffett's Influence on English Education." English Education 29.2 (1997): 147-150.

In this short tribute based on their remarks at the 1994 NCTE conference, Betty Jane Wagner, his coauthor on three editions of Student-Centered Language Arts, and James Gray, founder of the National Writing Project, share colorful personal anecdotes about Moffett's kind, composed demeanor and his deeply influential impacts on a variety of fields and movements within language learning and education.

Jago, Carol. Ed. Special Issue on Moffett. California English Journal. Winter (1997): 5-28.

In this special issue to mark the occasion of his passing, many notable figures in Californian education, including some of Moffett's own family, reflect on his legacy as a person, teacher, theorist and writer.

Infantino, Bob. "Moffett Prophets." California English Journal. California English Journal. Winter (1997): 5.

Moffett, Jan. "Jim" California English Journal. Winter (1997): 9.

Brewbacker, James M. "Look, Ma! We've Been Moffetized." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 10-11.

Gage, Tom. "Attuning to Moffett's Middle Voice." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 12-13.

Wagner, Betty Jane. "Jim Moffett, Pioneer and Visionary." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 14-15.

Romano, Robert P. "James Moffett's Place." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 16-17.

Smith, Mary Ann. "Teaching the Eighth Grade with Jim Moffett." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 19.

Harray, Nancy. "Connecting Scientists and Storytellers: Moffett's Boon to an Oceanography Academy." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 20-21.

Weiner, Lois. "Confronting the Reasons We Teach As We Do." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 22.

Claggett, Fran. "Prana: Life Force, Spirit, Breath." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 23.

Pipkin, Gloria. "James Moffett, Intellectual Freedom Fighter." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 24-26.

Gray, James. "Jim Moffett, An Appreciation." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 26.

Moffett, Judy. "It Takes a Vision." California English Journal. Winter (1997): 27-28.

Note: If you feel that other works should be considered for or have been overlooked by this list, please feel free to contact Jonathan Marine at jmarine@gmu.edu