Placing the History of College Writing: Stories from the Incomplete Archive

  • postsecondary institution, postsecondary education, archive, first-year composition, composition studies, history of writing

By Nathan Shepley
Copy edited by Julia Smith. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

CoverIn Placing the History of College Writing, Nathan Shepley argues that pre-1950s composition history, if analyzed with the right conceptual tools, can pluralize and clarify our understanding of the relationship between the writing of college students and the writing's physical, social, and discursive surroundings. Even if the immediate outcome of student writing is to generate academic credit, Shepley shows, the writing does more complex rhetorical work. It gives students chances to uphold or adjust institutional codes for student behavior, allows students and their literacy sponsors to respond to sociopolitical issues in a city or state, enables faculty and administrators to create strategic representations of institutional or program identities, and connects people across disciplines, occupations, and geographic locations. Shepley argues that even if many of today's composition scholars and instructors work at institutions that lack extensive historical records of the kind usually preferred by composition historians, those scholars and teachers can mine their institutional collections for signs of the various contexts with which student writing dealt.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter


Chapter One: Placing History, Historicizing Place

Chapter Two: Customizing Composition: Students Broadening Behavioral Codes

Chapter Three: Tracking Lines of Communication: Student Writing as a Response to Civic Issues

Chapter Four: Composition on Display: Students Performing College Competence

Chapter Five: Rethinking Links Between Histories of Composition

Chapter Six: Composition as Literacy, Discourse, and Rhetoric

Works Cited


About the Author

Nathan Shepley is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Houston, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Rhetoric and Composition. In addition to composition history, his specialization areas include composition pedagogy and ecological and neosophistic theories of writing. His articles have appeared in Composition Studies, Enculturation, Composition Forum, and Open Words: Access and English Studies.

Publication Information: Shepley, Nathan. (2015). Placing the History of College Writing: Stories from the Incomplete Archive. The WAC Clearinghouse; Parlor Press.

Web Publication Date: October 25, 2015
Print Publication Date: March 21, 2016

ISBN: 9781642150711 (pdf) | 9781642150728 (epub) | 9781602358010 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2015.0711

Contact Information:
Nathan Shepley:

Perspectives on Writing

Series Editors: Susan H. McLeod, University of California, Santa Barbara; Rich Rice, Texas Tech University

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It will also be available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2015 Nathan Shepley. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 164 pages, with notes, illustrations, and bibliographies. Available in print from Parlor Press online, or at any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in digital format for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.