Introduction: What was the Dartmouth Seminar? 


In late summer of 1966, almost 50 English teachers, primarily from the U.S. and U.K., gathered on the Dartmouth College campus for almost four weeks to discuss what the curriculum of English should be. Their expertise ranged from linguistics to literature to English education. Some were university professors; others were elementary English teachers. They were visited by another 20 or so consultants, who came for several days each to run workshops and lend their expertise in the teaching of English. The gathering was spearheaded primarily by James Squire, Executive Secretary of the NCTE [National Council of Teachers of English], and Albert Kitzhaber, who was involved in CCCC [Conference on College Composition and Communication], Project English, and NCTE and also involved close collaboration with NATE [National Association for the Teaching of English] members Boris Ford, Douglas Barnes and others. It was a rare joint effort by the U.S.-based NCTE and MLA [Modern Language Association], the newly formed U.K.-based NATE, and the Canadian CCTE [Canadian Council of Teachers of English]. The Carnegie Corporation of New York provided $150,000 to sponsor it. Albert Marckwardt, linguist and the President of NCTE at the time, directed the Seminar. The influence of the Dartmouth Seminar remains significant in university and K-12 English education in the US and the UK and the rest of the Anglophone world, although this influence is largely indirect. As the primary orchestrator of this exhibit, I'll outline some of the context, tenor, tensions, and findings of the seminar as I've learned them from five years of talking to participants, combing through the primary archives, and reading secondary materials.

Officially, the Seminar was called the "Anglo-American Seminar on the Teaching of English," ostensibly because it brought British and American educators together. John Trimbur notes that the name was indicative of a larger postwar neocolonial project of consolidating and exporting English as a commodity (144). Even at the time though, the name was awkward, and contemporary and retrospective documents often omit the official name and refer to it as the Dartmouth Seminar or the Dartmouth Conference. Dartmouth College was chosen because gathering in the US was less expensive than the UK, it had a good library and material resources, and it provided a space somewhat removed from distraction so that participants could concentrate on the task at hand: defining what English education was and what its curriculum should be (Carnegie Archives selection #4, Proposal, 11/3/65; see below for a discussion of Wayne O'Neil's objections to this remove). The format involved plenary sessions and responses, as well as working groups focused on particular aspects of English teaching: 1) What is English? 2) What is "Continuity" in English Teaching? 3) English: One Road or Many? 4) Knowledge and Proficiency in English 5) Standards and Attitudes. Study Group Papers focused on testing, the uses of drama or the role of myth in the classroom, linguistics, and creativity (see Seminar Packet). Most sessions were held in Sanborn Hall, a centrally located building on the Dartmouth campus and still the home of the English department. Participants stayed locally: those who came alone stayed in a nearby hotel (Hanover Inn) or college dorms (Fayerweather Hall) and those who came with their families rented houses nearby, with the help of local arrangements chair Arthur Jensen.  

Conversations about how to arrange a gathering among UK, US and Canadian representatives that would provide direction to English teaching began in March 1964, with Albert Kitzhaber (who was deeply involved in Project English), Boris Ford from the UK (University of Sussex) and James Squire (NCTE Executive Secretary) approaching Peter Caws from the Carnegie Corporation for sponsorship. John Fisher of the MLA was looped in later that year, despite turf wars between the NCTE and MLA over English curriculum (Carnegie Archives selection #1, Record of meeting between Kitzhaber and Caws, 12/2/64). In 1965, Squire and Kitzhaber visited the UK and talked to representatives from NATE in London and concluded that both the UK and the US had a lot to offer each other. Specifically, "while American schools could learn a great deal from the English ones in the matter of basic literacy and the encouragement of reading at the elementary and secondary levels, the reverse influence would be useful in the thoroughness of the teaching of literature at the college level" (Carnegie Archive section #7, Record of meeting between Squire, Kitzhaber and Caws, 11/4/65). After extensive correspondence and coordination between the key players, the Carnegie Corporation agreed in December 1965 to grant the Seminar $150,000 (Carnegie Archives, Carnegie Corporation Grant, 12/15/1965).

The American delegates generally held PhDs and taught at the college level, and the British were mostly primary school teachers, as the early correspondence suggested would be beneficial. Many of the British contingent knew each other through teaching or politics in London; the Americans came from all over and few knew each other. Douglas Barnes noted of the Americans, "apart from the officials of NCTE and MLA the Americans were very diverse, workers in different fields, and not presenting a common front. Most had never taught in a [K-12] school" (Barnes, personal correspondence to John Hardcastle). By gathering teachers of English from both sides of the Atlantic, the organizers of the Dartmouth Seminar sought to "bring a semblance of order to the present chaos" of the teaching of English (NCTE Grant, Carnegie Archives, p. 12). English was a difficult subject to organize, as it comprised so much. Perhaps indicative of these difficulties, conversations leading up to the Seminar generally focused on three approaches to English, but these approaches shifted through the planning period. At one point it was literature, grammar, and the psychology of learning (Carnegie Archives, Record of meeting between James Squire and Peter Caws, 7/9/65). During the Seminar, the intended focus was on linguistics, appreciation of literature, and rhetoric and composition.


The Context of the Seminar

Ideological, national and educational divisions were central tensions in conversations at Dartmouth. In the U.K., the Schools Council had just been formed, and there was significant energy for development of curriculum. The British were emerging from a post-war context dominated by few resources but optimistic progressivism, and the Americans were operating in a post-Sputnik paradigm with a top-down, university-led, National Defense Education Act-funded Project English model. John Hardcastle sets the UK scene:   

After the war, Britain was bankrupt. There was a new socialist government with progressive plans for education reform. The school leaving age was raised to 16, but there were not enough teachers and not enough schools. Things were especially difficult in London. James Britton and a few others got together a group of London English teachers (LATE) to take practical steps to improve teaching. There were also moves afoot nationally - another linked group - to improve English, and essentially it was these two groups that came together at Dartmouth. (email message to author, 5/22/20)

National selection exams at various stages in the school formed a standard bar to clear, culling out students at each stage, and exerting a conservative force on curriculum development efforts.

For the Americans, the Dartmouth English Seminar came on the heels of several related initiatives from university and government sources and focused on the relationship between English curriculum and national preparedness. As had been the case at least since Harvard in the 19th century, university faculty in the 1950s were dissatisfied with students’ writing skills (Crowley 4-7). The prevailing curriculum for English education at the time was the “life-adjustment model,” which was aimed at a population not going to college and focused on the social needs of adolescence over disciplinary content (Applebee, quoted in Reynolds). It "wasted the quickest" minds, according to James E. Miller, a practice which could not be tolerated after Sputnik; the best American students needed to be prepared and literate (8-9). English courses lacked a central mission and did not appear to be teaching writing adequately for incoming college freshmen. In his opening paper to the Seminar, Albert Kitzhaber claimed that English was “not so much a curriculum as a receptacle" ("What is English?" 5).

Kitzhaber, who was faculty at Dartmouth College and then moved to University of Oregon in 1962, was particularly keen on finding a central focus for English curriculum. He had conducted a study of the curriculum in Portland schools in the late 1950s and then led a three-year study of college writing with a $60,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation (Kitzhaber, Themes, 8). For this study, he collected syllabi from 95 of a wide variety of four-year colleges, for the year 1960-1. From these syllabi, he concluded that there were three main problems with English curriculum: “confusion in purpose, content and organization; inexpert teaching; poor textbooks” (Kitzhaber, Themes, 10). Dartmouth was a focal school for the study, in part because of Kitzhaber’s connection, but also because the faculty had complained about the adequacy of student writing. Kitzhaber notes that Dartmouth was unusual in the fact that it had no graduate students and so its composition courses were all taught by faculty. Kitzhaber’s report on the three-year study was published as Themes, Theories and Therapy: The Teaching of Writing in College (1963), and made twenty-one recommendations for improving the way writing was taught in college. 

Kitzhaber advocated for these recommendations as president of NCTE in 1964 and they were broached at the Dartmouth English Seminar in 1966. In 1964, the NCTE in the United States was lobbying to get English included in the post-Sputnik National Defense Education Act (NDEA), which had been signed by Eisenhower in 1958. The NCTE had circulated an assessment of English, The National Interest, which described teachers as inadequately trained and the curriculum as poorly focused in order to make a case for more funding for English education. As Dahliani Reynolds argues,

Drawing on a number of studies on the status of English teaching across the nation, The National Interest claimed a “deep-seated national awareness that the improvement of the quality of English teaching will depend on major changes in the conditions under which English is taught” (27-28). The National Interest responded to these post-Sputnik concerns about educational crisis by framing its own crisis in English—arguing for more teachers, better teacher education, improved teaching conditions, and sustained research in the teaching and learning of English. (14)

Reynolds describes this “rhetoric of failure” as being, paradoxically, a winning strategy for NCTE because it played into themes of educational crisis both invoked and addressed by the NDEA. Senate subcommittee hearings in 1961 debated the inclusion of English in the NDEA, as well as the idea that education should be thought of as an aid to defense versus a question of national health and citizenship (Reynolds 15-18). Out of these arguments, came a separate Congressionally-funded Project English, which framed English education as language, literature and composition (Hook 195). The 1964 campaign to add English to the NDEA was successful (JN Hook 197). A US Office of Education committee, which Kitzhaber served on, then determined several Project English Curriculum Study Centers where English curriculum would be studied and developed along the lines proposed by the NCTE (Reynolds 28).

In was in this context that James Squire, NCTE’s Executive Secretary, wrote a proposal for an International Seminar on the Teaching and Learning of English on behalf of NCTE, MLA, and NATE (Carnegie Archives selection #4, Proposal, 11/3/65). The idea was to get British and American teachers of English together to discuss English curriculum and potential improvements. The proposed Seminar was funded by the Carnegie Corporation—which had also funded Kitzhaber’s three-year study at Dartmouth a few years earlier. Carnegie had requested that the seminar be held at Dartmouth (Jensen, quoted in Donahue): it had the requisite library resources and it would be cheaper for British attendees to travel to the East Coast (Carnegie Archives selection #4, Proposal, 11/3/65). With a sense of humor, participant James E. Miller, Jr. elaborated on why the Seminar was at Dartmouth:

Dartmouth had been chosen as a conference site because of its rural location. Conference members could not be lured from the discussions by tempting city night-life…As it actually turned out, Dartmouth was protected, isolated, pastoral--was, in short, dull. Conference participants found themselves dependent for amusement on their own and their comrade's spleen, which flowed abundantly with the talk and the scotch. (1)

Kitzhaber, as an organizer of the conference with ties to Dartmouth, may have also influenced the choice of Dartmouth as a host.

In the US, big grant-funding institutions such as the Carnegie Corporation had been eager to support educational initiatives and these funds seemed likely to continue (Squire and Britton). The NCTE and MLA were well-established. Project English had been a federally supported curriculum for four years and had trained over 13,000 English teachers. At the center of this conflict was the national factions, but also the nature of national curriculum: about 50% of American students went to college, and only about 20% of British students did (Dixon, "Conference Report"). American education had expanded rapidly in the post-war years, and students arrived in elementary schools and colleges with different levels of preparation. The American Woods Hole conference in 1959, responding to the launch of Sputnik, had resulted in Jerome Bruner's influential The Process of Education, the "new math, "new science," and a "spiral curriculum" that would introduce topics to students with increasing complexity as they moved through the grades. There was a widespread push for a "new English" to match the other curricula of the 1960s. Universities led K-12 curriculum efforts in America, in part because so many students went to college and they could assume they would see many of those students again later. The British curriculum beyond primary school was still elite because students were funneled out as they entered upper grades. 

The Dartmouth Seminar was not alone as a big, field-defining conference in the 1960s. John Schilb argues that several mid-1960s conferences were influential to Composition (though he does not mention Dartmouth): the 1963 CCCC conference, and the 1966 structural linguistics conference at Johns Hopkins, “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” where Derrida met Paul de Man, and where Barthes, Lacan were also present. The Basic Issues Conference of 1958 began to ask questions about how to approach English teaching, although participants only met for a few days and did not get far with answers (Carnegie Archives selection #2, Kitzhaber letter to Caws, 5/19/65). Also in 1958 was the Language and Style Conference, where I. A. Richards was influential. There was a central interest in poststructuralism, Saussurean linguistics, and the heterogenous and unstable construction of the subject in language. Dartmouth itself was already host to the field-forming conference on Artificial Intelligence, run by John McCarthy in 1956, and host to other computational research on programming languages and operating systems by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz. Kitzhaber's 1963 study at Dartmouth was mentioned as an influence on the Dartmouth Seminar in the Carnegie representative's endorsement (Carnegie Archives selection #6, Caws memo, 11/16/65). In this scene the Dartmouth Seminar arrived. In its discussion to deemphasize formal linguistics and focus on the language of children, it could be seen as an extension of a new approach to language and teaching in the 1960s. 


At the Conference

Jim Squire organized the seminar with the help of Albert Marckwardt a linguist from Princeton, and Frank Whitehead from Sheffield University in the UK; Arthur Jensen, an English professor at Dartmouth, was in charge of local arrangements. Almost 50 teachers of English, mostly from Britain and the US (one was Canadian), teaching at all levels of the curriculum, converged on Dartmouth College August 20 – Sept 15, 1966. They were visited by 21 consultants during the four weeks of the seminar (see the list of consultants in this exhibit). Most sessions were held in Sanborn Hall, the home of the English department, which has changed little in appearance since 1966. The Seminar focused on discussion and cross-fertilization with five Working Papers presented in plenary sessions the first week, followed by ten Study group papers to be discussed in groups of seven or eight participants (Seminar Packet 7). The first week focused on the Working Papers, presented in plenary sessions, and initial meetings of the study groups and working parties. Subsequent weeks were sketched out ahead of time but more flexible. The schedule allowed for ample discussion and several of them circulated among the study groups to raise larger questions between the groups (Boris Ford and Wayne Booth), or to report on the seminar’s activities (Herbert Muller and John Dixon). The third and fourth weeks had space for final reports and summaries from the participants.

Kitzhaber’s Working Paper on “What is English?” served as the first plenary, and he answered the titular question similarly to the way Project English had been framed: language, literature and composition. He laid out the problems with the American curriculum as he saw them at the time: it was too diffused, too subject to outside influences, too focused on grammar in some contexts and too beholden to a "life adjustment model" in others. It reads as elitist now, and did then, too. His paper did not go over well, particularly with the British delegates. The scene in the UK was very different from what Kitzhaber described of the US; curriculum had been locked down for too long, and the energies of the newly-formed NATE and the urban, London-based LATE were focused on centering students and life in language. Hardcastle notes that "the London group (LATE) AND the national group (NATE) AND the group that Jim Squire miscalls the 'Cambridge School' were ALL likely to be unsympathetic to Kitzhaber's paper, which was essentially grounded in traditions of teaching rhetoric. In certain regards, progressive English teaching in the UK was characterised by - defined by - a break with rhetoric and philology" (Hardcastle, email to the author, 8/29/19). James Britton--the most influential of the British delegates--responded to Kitzhaber's paper arguing that rather than content, student growth and process were central to English. English was the connective tissue between all other subjects and should be focused on student growth. He had a particularly memorable metaphor: English was the connective dough that was left after rolling out jam tarts and cutting them into circles (Britton, "Response," 12). Dixon described the shift Britton effected in the Seminar: he "persuaded an introductory session to make the basic question: What at our best are we doing in English? This replaced the original 'What is English?,' proposing a pragmatic approach instead, that offered the lead to the minority of members with recent experience in schools" (Dixon, email to the author, 6/25/20). Kitzhaber thought English should be coherent as a discipline, and Britton thought of it as “the integrating area of all public knowledge” (Harris, "After Dartmouth"). Ultimately, it was Britton's view that prevailed.

Personalities contributed to tensions among participants. The British were honed by political training, and there was relative cohesion among them, many of them speaking with the cultured British Received Pronunciation (Miller). Many knew each other from schooling and leftist London politics. The London group--both men and women--was experienced at dominating public meetings and were sharp debaters. They were clever, articulate and politically engaged (John Hardcastle, email to the author 5/22/20). They were not homogenous, however, and there were class differences among them--namely, those who taught in the schools and those were products of them. The devotees of F.R. Leavis were a dominant faction. Most of the Americans did not know each other prior to the conference. If the Americans had a dominant faction, it was Project English. But the study centers were scattered across the country and so even the Project English participants did not know each other personally. American education, students, and geography were all far more diverse, and this diversity was at least partially reflected in the delegates to the conference--from the West Coast high schools, mid-America land grant universities, and elite private universities on the East Coast. Some folks could talk across these ideological and national factions--Jimmy Britton, Wayne Booth, and Connie and Harold Rosen in particular (Paul Olson interview with the author, 6/2/20). A deep bond had been forged between Harold Rosen and Wayne Booth, who had served together in WWII and was refreshed at Dartmouth (Rosen was British but had been born in the US and was drafted to serve the US; his son Michael's middle name is Wayne after Booth).

By all accounts, the Seminar was a lively gathering--lubricated by alcohol, strong personalities, ideological commitments, longstanding disagreements, and even romance (Paul Olson interview with the author, 6/2/20). Corroborating Miller's account of scotch and spleen, the undergraduate steward of the conference, John Scott-Craig, remembered a bus trip with participants through central Vermont: 

It was a month early for the famous fall foliage, but it was soon discovered that "spiritous liquors" were for sale in state-owned stores scattered around the state. They were impressed that many of the available California wines were both inexpensive and of good quality so the day passed very pleasantly. I am sure many interesting and important conversations about the teaching of English took place during the tour, but I spent my day at both the scheduled and the unscheduled stops trying to make sure that no one got left behind. (email to the author, 10/3/2016)

Scott-Craig was a Yale student, but the son of a Dartmouth faculty member and had helped out with several conferences at Dartmouth at the time. He noted that "the level of enthusiasm among the participants seemed much higher than at a couple of earlier conferences I assisted with." 

Indeed, Miller wrote that the gathering seemed "ready to draw blood" (2)--perhaps quite literally in an exchange between Boris Ford and Basil Bernstein, where Bernstein apparently broke a glass and cut himself badly (Hardcastle, email to the author, 9/20/20). Olson called the gathering "uncivil." Kitzhaber was particularly sensitive--he had come in with a distinct agenda to promote Project English, which was not well-received, particularly by the British, and "couldn't take a punch" (Paul Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). He threatened to leave halfway through the conference (Olson remembers him actually leaving; Dixon says he packed his bags but was persuaded to stay, perhaps by Jim Squire). Olson wrote a letter to Frank Whitehead partway through the conference about changing the tenor of the conference, and gave it to British delegates Barbara Hardy or William Robson to mediate. He said it would be vain to suggest that the letter made a difference, but perhaps it did change the tenor of the conversation somewhat, as Whitehead was less dominant in the latter half of the conference (Paul Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). The tensions that manifested in the opening session featuring Kitzhaber's paper continued throughout (Miller). Wayne O'Neil offered a scathing assessment of the gathering in Harvard Educational Review in which he said that the gathering aimed too low, was self-indulgent, not attentive to issues of the day, and its findings should be ignored (O'Neil, "Conference Report"). 

Influential figures present at the Seminar or as ideological shadows were: James Moffett, James Britton, Nancy Martin, Jerome Bruner, F.R. Leavis, L.C. Knights, and Lev Vygotsky. Brunian reforms were well underway in the United States. John Dewey had fallen out of favor with the Americans, which surprised the British (John Hardcastle, presentation at the Dartmouth 50th Anniversary Conference, Aug 2016). Leftist politics were perhaps the greatest influence on the British group as a whole, and many of the contingent knew each other through political activities in London. F.R. Leavis at Cambridge, editor of the magazine Scrutiny and affiliated with several of the British contingent (Thompson, Barnes, Holbrook, Ford), was influential in making literature a central focus. Not all of Leavis's affiliates agreed with him, and the influence may have been overstated, but accounts of the Seminar--especially the American ones--often refer to the British "Leavisites." L.C. Knights had been working in English teaching reform, and may have been the strongest influence on who was invited among the British group (Hardcastle, email to the author, 8/19/19). Nancy Martin, a lifelong collaborator with James Britton who was not invited largely because the LATE group was already represented by Britton and Dixon, was also influential (Hardcastle, email to the author, 9/20/20; Dixon, email to the author, 9/28/20). Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget were under discussion in LATE in the years prior to Dartmouth, and the British representatives brought that with them (John Hardcastle, presentation at the Dartmouth 50th Anniversary Conference, Aug 2016). Ann Berthoff, who did not attend the Seminar, was publicly critical of what she saw as the undue influence of James Moffett on the deliberations, and a resulting adherence to language as a symbolic system with the potential to be decoded; she wished for a revisiting of the Seminar with a more robust consideration of I.A. Richards and theories of knowledge and imagination (Berthoff). Moffett had published an article in CCC in 1963, which Britton had read and shared approvingly with the British group (John Hardcastle, presentation at the Dartmouth 50th Anniversary Conference, Aug 2016). I.A. Richards was also in conversation, a lingering influence from the Language and Style conference in 1958. 

The Americans and the British wanted to learn from each other, but both sides also wanted support for their emerging efforts to reform curriculum. As Paul Olson describes it, the Brits "came with a sense that they had something good underway, and they were trying to validate what they were doing—which I understand, because I was doing the same thing!" Along with Paul Olson, Dartmouth participant Wayne O'Neil and organizer Albert Kitzhaber were deeply involved with developing curriculum and working with teachers in their respective Project English study sites, and wished to share their work and wisdom. Joseph Harris mentions that Project English materials were laid out and available at Dartmouth, but not much taken up ("Updating Dartmouth"). John Dixon named the central polarity in the gathering "between blind enthusiasts in the classroom and academic rationalists in the study," critiquing both the primary school reformers of NATE (of which he was one) and the top-down approach of the American university-led Project English program. Writing in 2007, O'Neil remained bitter about the way that Dartmouth and the NCTE overthrew Project English's efforts to bring coherence to curriculum. 

In 1966, both cultures were at a convergence, a turning point, Olson noted in our interview. The English grammar school was being abandoned, and on the American side, [the life adjustment model for curriculum meant that] "as long as we kept them entertained, anything goes." Shaped by these contexts, the British delegates were more interested in the process/growth model, and the Americans were moving towards a more rigid curriculum; their post-Sputnik model had a more stripped-down, back-to-basics kind of approach (Parker). As American James Miller wrote after the conference, Americans wished to move from the "how-to" curriculum (how to talk on the telephone, make conversation with a date, etc) that wasted the quickest minds, and make a return to "discipline and tradition." On the other side, British education--which had been rather elitist--had come under attack, and they were eager to move on from it. Before the conference, the British and the Americans may have seen the other as a model but had "brought with them distinctly outdated images of each other" (Miller 10). The opening session was, then, a "mutual surprise" about how wrong each side had been about the other's curriculum and interest in reform (Dixon, "Conference Report"). Miller wrote that "[a]s the exchange continued…it became clear that the British and Americans were debating not with each other so much as with their own pasts" (Miller 10). 


The Findings at Dartmouth

No consensus curriculum emerged from the Seminar, as had been originally planned. Several books were written based on the findings and discussions of the conference, and they generally proposed that English courses should emphasize student growth and literacy processes, rather than specific content to be mastered--a (partial) triumph of Britton over Kitzhaber. The conference participants also came out against tracking and inflexible standardized curricula, and they seemed to agree on some concepts of language. In Growth through English, Dixon provides a succinct articulation of the central consensus of the seminar: "language is learnt in operation, not by dummy runs" (13). Joseph Harris argues that Dixon's book reflects more the British take on the conference, rather than the American take, which was more directly influenced by the top-down and subject-centered approach of Project English. Yet American James Miller sums the findings up similarly: “language is seen as something more than ‘a bunch of rules’ for communication…; it is, instead, infinitely pliable, infinitely resiliant [sic] stuff of creation. It is through language that we discover our identity, and it is with language that we create our world…” (20). The seminar seemed to suggest that the goal of the English teacher should, then, be to help students grow and learn to create their worlds through their language, hence the title of Dixon's report, Growth through English. Their consensus against testing and tracking appears to have had little influence on actual educational practices and policies in the UK or the US, however (Harris, "After Dartmouth").

As Executive Secretary of NCTE, James Squire issued a list of findings, submitted with NCTE's report from the grant and included in this exhibit (Carnegie Archive selection #10, Letter from Squire to Caws, 9/23/66). These findings include statements about the complexity of English as a subject; the importance of involving English in education at all levels; the urgency to develop curriculum approaches that involve children actively through dramatic play and creativity; the centrality of literature in an English curriculum; the danger of limiting children through rigidly "streaming" or "grouping" them; and the need for more resources, reform, and education of both teachers and the public about what good English teaching is. Squire concluded by saying that "Conferees from the three countries agreed that if there is a 'new English,' it is to be found by reexamining and reinterpreting the child's experiences in language, not by introducing new content as has been characteristic of curriculum reform in mathematics and the sciences." He claimed these findings were "a blueprint for redirecting the focus of English teaching in Anglo-American countries [that] emerged this month" from the Dartmouth Seminar. Widely admired by the participants despite the differences between them, Squire had "persuaded them to hang on in and was responsible for producing a final synthesis backed by a majority if not all members. A little miracle?" (Dixon, unpublished manuscript "1945 and all that," sent to the author 10/26/20). 

Squire's synthesis may have been a "little miracle" given the contentiousness of the Seminar, but it was no clear "blueprint." Miller points out that the findings are too general to identify the interesting points of discussion: "This closing manifesto is remarkably silent on some of the major issues debated at the seminar; on the issues it does venture to touch, it leaps to a level of generality and ambiguity high and intense enough to soar beyond debate" (19). And the findings were not a consensus--Olson said that participants never agreed to or signed on to them, and, contra Dixon, Olson claimed they were simply a report from Squire's own impressions. The eleven points Squire lists are indeed general, and may not have been a complete consensus (which Dixon pointed out in private correspondence) but they are echoed in many of the other primary materials and descriptions from participants (Carnegie Archive selection #10, Letter from Squire to Caws, 9/23/66). 

The other primary materials emerging from the conference are Dixon's Growth through English, intended as a guide to the Seminar's discussions for teachers of English, and American Herbert Muller's Uses of English: A Blueprint for a New Direction in the Teaching of English in Anglo-American Countries, intended for a general audience. The six working groups also issued monographs that included the working papers and conclusions each group came to. Titles in this series include: Creativity in English by Geoffrey Summerfield, Drama in the English Classroom by Douglas Barnes, The Uses of Myth by Paul A. Olson, Sequence in Continuity by Arthur Eastman, Language and Language Learning by Albert H. Marckwardt, and Response to Literature by James R. Squire. The Response to Literature group was particularly influential, and was led by participant Denys Harding "to adopt a surprisingly inclusive new definition – including film, television and students' work 'in the role of onlooker'" (Dixon, unpublished manuscript "1945 and all that," sent to the author 10/26/20). Dixon's Growth through English is based on Squire's summary and is often taken as a summary of the findings. It circulated widely and sold beyond the initial funding from the Carnegie grant, which had distributed free copies to teachers in both the UK and US. Dixon remembers a favorable reception of his report, launched at the 1967 NCTE conference in Honolulu, when he was invited to speak to the Elementary and Secondary Sections and to smaller committees, with prominent Dartmouth members like Wayne Booth in attendance (Dixon, unpublished manuscript "1945 and all that," sent to the author 10/26/20). 

As reported by Dixon in Growth through English, James Britton's strenuous argument for language in use and English as the connective tissue between other subjects rather than a disconnected and formalized grammar and curriculum, along with James Moffett's student-centered idea that the children should be involved in their own education, carried the day at Dartmouth. "Language in use" had been squeezed out of the curriculum through a concentration on skills as well as the inheritance of Arnoldian "the best of what is thought and said" perspective on literature. As a group, participants seemed to be steering away from both the Scylla of the pale interpretation of Deweyian "experience" education that had dominated the American context and the Charybdis of the streamed and rigid curriculum of the British. Although Marckwardt was a defender of the structuralists still present at Dartmouth, most of the linguists, especially Wayne O'Neil, had moved on from the formal teaching of linguistics in primary school and towards more applied uses of language. Reflecting on the Seminar 20 years later, Dixon said that "skills are a means to achieving initial literacy, but they too easily become an end in themselves.[... K]ids learn best how to speak and write and read when they are confronted with and allowed to manipulate real words and real ideas" (Durbin, "Interview with John Dixon"). The applications of these ideas about language in use and children's involvement in their own education, at least in the UK, were exemplified in other publications that emerged after Dartmouth. According to John Hardcastle, "the most influential book about English teaching - classroom teachers bought it - to emerge after Dartmouth was not John Dixon's partial account, Growth Through English, but Barnes, Britton and Rosen's gem, Language Learner and the School. And Connie and Harold Rosen's book, The Language of Primary School Children, broke new ground for the way it spoke about children stories" (John Hardcastle, email to the author, 5/22/20). The diaspora of work from Dartmouth is impossible to trace fully, but is partially represented in the bibliography in this exhibit.

The international connections and initiatives that emerged from Dartmouth were some of the most important and lasting legacies of the Seminar. With $10,000 of leftover Carnegie funds and some profits from the sale of Growth through English, there were Dartmouth-inspired initiatives in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. An International Steering Committee (ISC) that grew out of Dartmouth organized two major conferences, the first in Vancouver, Canada in 1967 and the second in York, England in 1971. At the first conference, the Canadian Council of Teachers of English (CCTE) was founded with Merron Chorney, a Dartmouth delegate, as its first president; the modest $500 profit from that conference launched a Canadian journal and provided seed money for future conferences. The York conference, as a followup to Dartmouth, brought together 500 participants for a week, with 200 each from the UK and US, and is noted in Dixon's 1975 edition of Growth through English as influential. The ISC also facilitated research exchanges and tours between the UK, US and Canada (Carnegie Archives selection #12, Chorney report, 3/13/72). The Carnegie Corporation associate who received Chorney's report in 1972 noted, "I must say Professor Chorney's committee made $10,000 go further than any similar sum in my experience" (Carnegie Archives selection #12, E. Alden Dunham note attached to Chorney report, undated). With help from the British Council, Britton and Dixon were funded to tour Australia and New Zealand. Contacts from these visits led to the formation of the International Forum on Teacher Education, an international meeting of representatives every three or four years, most recently in 2020 (Dixon, unpublished manuscript "1945 and all that," sent to the author 10/26/20). A special issue of English in Australia from 2016, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Dartmouth Seminar, testifies to its lasting international influence (see Bibliography in this exhibit).   


What Wasn't Said and Who Wasn't There

Dartmouth is notable for who was there--but also for who wasn't. Gesa Kirsch and Jacqueline Jones Royster write that historical reexaminations such as this exhibit provides are important for "grounding inquiries in historical evidence with regard to both texts and contexts," describing “what is there and not there, and speculating about what could be there instead” (21). The Dartmouth Seminar participants and consultants reflected power structures in 1966, both in their demographic and class backgrounds and in their conversations. While several of the UK representatives were working class, and US representatives came from a variety of backgrounds, a vast majority of participants in the Seminar were white men with a background that positioned them to receive advanced degrees at a time when it was rare for anyone to do so.

Squire and Britton's forward to the updated edition of Dixon's Growth through English, which they wrote in 1975, addresses the Seminar in light of tumultuous political events in the later 1960s, noting that they could not have been fully anticipated by the gathering in 1966. Yet they admit that "critics of the Dartmouth Conference have rightfully criticized the deliberations for failing to relate the teaching of English to the sociopolitical contexts in which young people live today" (xi). Race and class-based tensions in education were indeed present in 1966 and perhaps might have been better addressed by participants. Paul Olson, who had worked with Native organizations, and has since done significant racial reconciliation work, called it an "epic lacuna in the conference" and "a failure on all of our parts" that they didn’t talk about generatively culture, race and language. He notes that they talked about Black culture, but as a "deficit culture" (interview with the author, 6/2/20). And although Project English included Native texts and culture in the curriculum, they didn't talk about what Native students might bring to the curriculum (Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). Participants at Dartmouth read papers and discussed teaching "disadvantaged" students, the controlling language and ideology of the time. John Dixon wrote in 2018: "That interplay between the cultures that students bring to school (if we let them) and the cultural products we offer back (some in response, some just fishing perhaps): that interplay was not analysed in the seminar – despite the rising wave of black freedom protests in the US of the early Sixties" (Dixon, "Forward"). 

Those who might have brought class or race contexts into the Seminar weren't there, as Stuart Hall and Richard Hoggart were setting up a new Centre for Cultural Studies and declined their invitations (Dixon, email to author, 6/25/20). Dixon was invited only when Hall--someone he knew quite well at the time--declined (Dixon, email to the author, 6/25/20). Hall was unique in stature, but he was not the only Black scholar of English at the time. William A. Jenkins, the first Black editor of any NCTE journal (Elementary Education 1961-1968) and later first Black NCTE president, was widely respected on English elementary education yet not invited (Hook 201). There were certainly others. Fred Cassidy, a Wisconsin professor of Portuguese and Canadian ancestry who had grown up in Jamaica, was there, but there was very little talk about Jamaican culture (Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). No non-native English speakers were present at the conference. 

The exigence for discussions of the diversity of racialized cultures and language was more apparent in the US at the time than in the UK, perhaps, because the educational system in the UK was not generally accommodating to non-white populations. The immigration patterns in the UK at the time included people recruited from the Carribean and Pakistan in the wake of postwar labor shortages (the "Windrush generation," Dixon, email to the author, 6/26/20). Dixon recalled his first Black student in London in 1962: "one in a thousand." In other words, the population of non-White or non-native English speakers who actually attended school was extremely small. Dixon recalls:

After Dartmouth (around 1968 perhaps) I arranged to meet the leaders of the Sikh community in Bradford [where Pakistani immigrants had been recruited to run the mills], all of them ex-teachers from a high school in the Punjab (they were effectively political refugees). They were quite exceptional at the time and already thinking about the effects on the next generation, I remember: we organised a visit by local teachers on a Yorkshire summer course. (email to the author, 6/26/20)

Dixon lamented that aside from Stuart Hall, who had come to Oxford on scholarship, "the chances of a teacher from those communities being active in the UK were very small in the early sixties. Like many of us in the inner-city, they had plenty of other things to deal with." But, as John Trimbur argues, the neocolonial project of exporting English, desired by Churchill and functioning as a dominant ideology in Britain after World War II, may have helped to obscure for participants the problematic construction of "native speakers" of English, and--even in 1966--the need to understand English language teaching in a multilingual and global context. 

Given the demographics of the U.S. at the time, the wake of the Watts riots in 1965, and the growing pressure from activist groups demanding more inclusive education, American participants might have been more attuned to the needs and the diversity of their student body. Indeed, O'Neil was incensed at the lack of engagement with the context of the time. He opened up his 1969 conference report in Harvard Educational Review by setting the scene: he had spent the summer travelling 16,000 miles across the country, through the Great Lakes, the Southwest...

through the present squalor the that the American Indian has been forced to...I had spoken to English teachers in Chicago in early July just after Puerto Ricans had rioted (it was learned that there was not a Spanish-speaking teacher anywhere to be had in the elementary schools of Chicago), and just before three Blacks were shot down of a hot summer's day for cooling themselves in the public waters of Mayor Daly's fire hydrants; I had spoken to English teachers in Fresno, deep in the Valley that wouldn't pay agricultural workers and that would help to elect Reagan [as governor of California] in the fall… (359-360)

In contrast to the idyllic, removed, and elite context of Dartmouth--intentionally chosen for these qualities--he goes on to mention other English teachers he spoke to, the Watts riots of 1965, and the ways American cities "explode[d]" in 1966 and 1967. His cross-country travels during the summer of 1966 were in the context of Project English, which he had grown to doubt: "Everywhere I had spoken to the inefficacy of my discipline (linguistics) to help at all…[and] about the racism inherent in attempting to make black dialect over into Middle Class American…" (360). 

O'Neil may have been particularly attuned to the American context surrounding the Dartmouth Seminar, but all of the participants would have been aware of the unrest stemming from racial inequality across the country in 1966. Moreover, sociolinguist Joshua Fishman's paper, circulated in the Seminar participant packet at the conference, "The Breadth and Depth of English in the United States,” citing demographics at the time, noted that two-thirds of the white population in the U.S. grew up surrounded by other languages. Fishman also attends to African American populations, noting the creolized English variety influenced by West African vocabulary and syntactic structures (see Trimbur, and also the Seminar Packet). Histories of American education often ignore the prevalence of bilingual education in the US--the mixing of German, French and other languages prior to mandates of English-only education in the late 19th century and anti-German sentiment and nativism in the 1920s. Fishman writes that English is a “thin brittle layer [. . .] superimposed over layers of guilt due to the rejection of other tongues, mother tongues, and grand-mother tongues” (52, quoted in Trimbur 164), The US was not in 1966, nor ever, a monolingual country. Yet Marckwardt's view of it at Dartmouth showed a "purification of linguistic memory that invests in English a stability and sovereignty as a school subject, as the mother tongue of native speakers, and as an object of uncontested affection, [...] grounded in the 'special relation' that unites the Anglo-American metropolis as one speech community" (Trimbur 165-166). 

Monolingualism was assumed at Dartmouth, and so was a deficit theory of language difference. Olson admits that the prevailing idea was that some students were at a linguistic disadvantage, despite the fact that they had no evidence for that. "We never asked the question: what are other ways of looking at this? That kind of discussion. There wasn't engagement with difference in language" (Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). Yet, notwithstanding the write-up Trimbur cites, the linguists at the conference, perhaps under the influence of O'Neil, at least were in consensus not to push grammar into the curriculum until the age of 17 (Dixon, email to the author, 6/25/20). Olson described Basil Bernstein as the conference "bete noir" for his insistence on the "restricted language" of children coming from certain backgrounds (Olson, interview with the author, 6/2/20). Harold Rosen and Bernstein had come from similar backgrounds--Jewish, profoundly interested in working-class education and social justice--but Rosen clashed with Bernstein over his "deficit" view of children's language (and later had a spectacular falling out, Hardcastle, email to the author, 5/22/20). Miller refers to linguistic tensions between the participants themselves, and the relative cultural value of their American and British accents. There was, then, at least some understanding at Dartmouth of the problematic constructions of a monolithic English "native speaker" and a homogenous view of language. 

Women were underrepresented at Dartmouth. Five of the 49 participants were women, and five of the 21 consultants to the Seminar were women. John Dixon recalls that Connie Rosen's presence there was only after a protest in the LATE Executive board; she traveled there with her equally qualified husband, Harold Rosen. Paul Olson remembers her being a force in the discussions, gentle and brilliant. Olson also recalled Miriam Wilt, who was a power in elementary education, but who only spoke occasionally. Most of the women were quiet in deliberations, suggest both Olson and Dixon. Dixon noted that given all the men there, even Connie Rosen had to approach friends outside of the more public sessions (Dixon, email to the author, 9/28/20). Regrettably, none of the women wrote directly about Dartmouth (that I have found) and all five are deceased, so I was unable to get the story directly from them. John Hardcastle writes that "there were many women in LATE (including Connie Rosen, Barbara Hardy, Dorothy Barnes and Jean Dunning) - clever graduates with strong social convictions and left-wing politics, who were keen to improve English teaching" (email to the author, 5/22/20). Dunning did not attend, and Nancy Martin, a regular collaborator of James Britton's, was also notably absent at Dartmouth. Ruth Strickland, a prominent author on elementary education in English and one-time NCTE President, was not present. Ann Berthoff, who also was not present there, was the only woman to write about the conference around that time. As a part time teacher in the Boston area and without publication in Composition, she may not have been established enough at the time to merit an invitation (Paige Davis Arrington, email to the author, 9/28/20). John Dixon, who had later met and admired Louise Rosenblatt, the well-known American literary critic, wondered at her absence at Dartmouth as she was "a stronger theoretician than many of the men" (Dixon, email to the author, 9/29/20). Rosenblatt and Strickland would have been among the oldest participants had they come, and perhaps were overlooked for that reason as well. But as Dixon suggested, there didn't need to be reasons to overlook potential women participants: "That's 1966" (Dixon, email to the author, 9/28/20). Women weren't in force at the Dartmouth Seminar in 1966 because women weren't many places where decisions were being made. 

One woman who was at the Dartmouth Seminar was Nearlene Bertin. Bertin, who served as the secretary for the Seminar--making and distributing copies, transcribing sessions, etc.--is nearly absent from the archival record. "Mrs. Nerlene Bertin," her name misspelled, is noted in the Seminar packet as the transcriber for the sessions. I learned about her presence there after asking Paul Olson if there was anyone at the Seminar who wasn't white (I thought I knew the answer). Olson told me, yes, Nearlene Bertin was there and she was Black. As we were talking about tacit issues of race at the Seminar, Olson mentioned that Ms. Bertin had not been treated so kindly by some of the participants there--except for Nelson Francis, who stood up for her and implored others to treat her well. A romance between them blossomed. Nelson Francis and Nearlene Bertin married the next year and lived, as far as the record goes, happily ever after. Francis had two adult sons at the time they married (John Winthrop Nelson Francis [1941-2019] and Samuel Hopkins Francis [1943- ]). Bertin had a younger daughter, Chérie, who attended a local summer camp during the Dartmouth Seminar. (Dr. Chérie Francis is now a graduate administrator at UCLA and helped me to fill in the archival blanks on this history.) Francis and Bertin blended their families and are buried next to each other in Lowell, MA (Melanson). A local news story from the Lowell Sun in 2017 notes that Bertin and Francis had "met at a 1966 English teachers’ conference. They fell in love and supported one another as they both rose in the world of academia" (Melanson). Bertin had been a teacher and scholar prior to being the secretary at Dartmouth. She had a Master's from New York University, taught at Brown University, and later became an assistant dean of students at Wheaton College (MA). Nearlene (Bertin) Francis's presence and legacy connected to the Dartmouth Seminar is a reminder of the lacuna of archives, and the value of continually revisiting them as well as gathering first hand accounts. 


The Influences of Dartmouth

Given the tensions, lacunae, and lack of consensus around the Dartmouth Seminar's deliberations, why was it so influential? Don Zancanella writes that 

what made Dartmouth unusually important was the intensely English focused nature of the work done there. Dartmouth wasn’t about changing society or changing education, it was about changing English. It may have been made even more potent because English as a subject in American schools had its historical roots in England—suddenly here were educators from England presenting not the stuffy, Oxbridge version of the subject American teachers might well have expected them to promote, but something open, student-centered, even liberating, as an alternative to the back-to-the-basics ideas about English that had been emerging in the United States in the post-Sputnik years. (16)

Zancanella, who taught high school English in rural Wyoming in the late 1970s, was trained on Dixon, Britton and Moffett and the findings from Dartmouth, so felt that influence directly. 

Cinthia Gannett and John Brereton write that "‘The Dartmouth Conference itself promoted a more conceptually and politically inclusive view of the integrated language arts and honored the agency of teachers, scholars and students.” Brereton extends this idea:

There's no doubt that one thing that arose from the 1966 Dartmouth Conference was a greater emphasis (and confidence) on students doing their own thinking, with less stress on parroting a teacher's lectures. There's also a connection between valuing what beginning students could do, at a relatively low level, as long as it was real [...] writing. [...] But wasn't that in the air everywhere throughout the mid-60's, not just connected to Dartmouth? (email to the author, 8/8/2017)

Indeed, it was, and Dixon echoes this idea in his 1975 discussion of the influences of the Dartmouth Seminar, especially after the York meeting in 1971--that "teacher as listener" was an approach to counter the education's tendency toward domination (Growth through English: Set in the Perspective of the Seventies, 111). 

But perhaps the Seminar was less influential than it is sometimes said to be. Paul Olson said, "The group itself was so powerful, they could have said anything: recipes for apple pie, for instance" (interview with the author, 6/2/20). Indeed, their impact on curriculum was very diffused, and ran aground on some counter curricular efforts, such as the retrenchment of testing in the UK and later in the US. Infamously, a group of prominent British authors published a series of anti-progressive education papers in Critical Quarterly, the Black Papers on Education, which may have been more influential to subsequent education policy in the UK than Dartmouth (Squire and Britton, xiv). But, as noted in the archive as well as by participants and those who were trained post-Dartmouth, the connections forged across the Atlantic at Dartmouth were significant, and sustained throughout subsequent decades. James Britton was a regular consultant at the Bread Loaf School of English, others also more regularly reached across afterward. From seeing the dull reception of Project English at Dartmouth and elsewhere, Olson learned that curriculum alone wasn't enough to make changes--though O'Neil had already discovered that at least by the summer before the conference when he traveled the country talking with English teachers. David Bartholomae claimed that the Seminar professionalized Composition in a way, made research possible (conversation with the author, 2015). Trimbur and Harris both claim it was influential in later collaborations in American Composition. Brenton Doecke describes the influences in Australian education, and Merron Chorney in a report in the Carnegie Archives, notes that it was influential to Canadian organization around English curriculum (Carnegie Archives selection #12, Chorney report, 3/13/72). 

Joseph Harris has argued that the ideas about growth through English that Dartmouth advanced were too idyllic to get widespread acceptance ("After Dartmouth"). But in many ways, they diffused out into our field. Douglas Hesse, a former NCTE president, claims that his graduate school encounter with James Britton’s 1975 work The Development of Writing Abilities, influenced by Dartmouth, was formative:

I remember grasping his idea that language was a tool for thinking, not just a vehicle for conveying thought. Children—all of us—use language for making sense of things, for interpreting the world and putting it together. Schools needed to make a place for that kind of engagement. The idea underpins the whole notion of writing to learn and the writing across the curriculum movement. Britton’s idea struck like lightning, one of those few times that I can distinctly perceive a fundamental shift in my understanding. 

A whole generation of teachers were trained in the wake of Dartmouth, and then others--my generation of scholars--were trained by them. In true Bakhtinian fashion, the Dartmouth Seminar's influence is refracted and now rarely cited.

Wayne O’Neil noted that although curricular reform didn’t contradict student centeredness, the Seminar seemed to set up this false dichotomy (O'Neil, "Project English"). Now, many in composition agree in principle about student growth over grammar and content as a central focus of our courses—although perhaps like O’Neil insists, the two don’t have to be opposed. The emphasis on writing as a means of growth and learning in many of our classes is, at least partially, a legacy of the Dartmouth English Seminar. Charles Bazerman notes that another legacy, as Hesse also points out above, is the influence on Writing Across the Curriculum and writing to learn (quoted in Donahue 2016). More than any specific outcome from Dartmouth, however, was the energy and attention it focused on questions of English and the teaching of writing. The field of Composition would certainly be very different without the Dartmouth Seminar in 1966.

If reports on the Seminar seem complex, even in conflict, it's because they are. In recalling Dartmouth shortly afterward, participant James Miller notes that that the conference was really like 41 separate conferences, and any single account could only be: "what happened at Dartmouth to me?" (Miller 5). Albert Marckwardt in his address, “The Other Side of the Coin,” says of his interpretation of the differences in opinions at Dartmouth: “Nor should I leave you with the impression that my description of these differences is anything more than a personal and perhaps indiscreet interpretation, limited by my own limitations and point of view” (388).

And that sums up my objective in facilitating this exhibit: no one account of this huge and influential conference can be authoritative. The point of this exhibit of the Dartmouth Seminar is the "spirit of inquiry" (Doecke). The exhibit is biased toward the uptake of the Seminar in higher education in the US. It relies on firsthand accounts from British delegate John Dixon and American delegate Paul Olson, as they were generous with their time and made themselves available to me. It could not rely on the accounts of others who have since passed. Much more could be said for the British uptake, and for the Seminar's influence on primary education in both the American and British contexts. I have recommended some starter texts for researchers interested in learning more about the conference, provided some selected materials from the Carnegie Archives (annotated by Megan McIntyre), and done my best to frame the conference in this introduction--though it's merely my own interpretation from wading through these accounts for the last five years. I welcome additions and comments. 

Annette Vee
University of Pittsburgh
December 2020


*See Carnegie Archives selections for references to primary documents. 


Berthoff, Ann. “From Problem-Solving to a Theory of Imagination.” College English, vol. 33, no. 6, Mar. 1972, pp. 636–49.

Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.

Dixon, John. “Conference Report: The Dartmouth Seminar.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 2, no. 39, 1969, pp. 366–72.

-----. Growth through English: A Report Based on the Dartmouth Seminar 1966. 1st ed., National Association for the Teaching of English, 1967.

-----. Growth through English: Set in the Perspective of the Seventies. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1975.

-----. “Forward.” The Future of English Teaching Worldwide : Celebrating 50 Years from the Dartmouth Conference, edited by Andrew Goodwyn, Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2018, pp. x–xii

Doecke, Brenton. “History * Autobiography * Growth (Fifty Years since Dartmouth).” English in Australia, vol. 53, no. 1, 2016, pp. 33–39.

Donahue, Christiane. “The 1966 Seminar.” Dartmouth Writing Institute, 2016,

Durbin, William. “Interview with John Dixon.” English Journal, vol. 76, no. 2, Feb. 1987, pp. 70–73.

Gannett, Cinthia and John Brereton, presentation at Dartmouth 50th Anniversary conference

Gannett, Cinthia, and John Brereton. “Framing and Facing Histories of Rhetoric and Composition: Composition-Rhetoric in the Time of the Dartmouth Conference.” Talking Back: Senior Scholars and Their Colleagues Deliberate the Past, Present, and Future of Writing Studies, edited by Norbert Eliot and Alice S. Horning, University Press of Colorado, Utah State University Press Imprint, 2020, pp. 139–52,

Harris, Joseph. “After Dartmouth: Growth and Conflict in English.” College English, vol. 53, no. 6, 1991, pp. 631–46.

-----. A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966. Prentice Hall, 1997.

-----. “Updating Dartmouth.” The Power of Writing : Dartmouth ’66 in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Christiane Donahue and Kelly Blewett, Dartmouth College Press, 2015.

Hesse, Douglas. "Fifty Years after Dartmouth," Aug 3, 2016, blog post:

Hook, JN. A  Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE’s First Sixty-Seven Years, NCTE, 1979, p 195. NCTE:

Kirsch, Gesa E., and Jacqueline J. Royster. “Feminist Rhetorical Practices: In Search of Excellence.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 61, no. 4, 2010, pp. 640–672. JSTOR, 

Kitzhaber, Albert R. “What Is English? Working Party Paper No. 1.” Working Papers of the Dartmouth Seminar, ERIC, 1966, ED 082 201.

Kitzhaber, Albert R. Themes, Theories, Therapy The Teaching of Writing in College [The Report of the Dartmouth Study of Writing]. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1963.

Kynard, Carmen. Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacies Studies. SUNY Press, 2013.

Marckwardt, Albert. “The Other Side of the Coin.” College English, vol. 28, no. 5, 1967, pp. 383.

Medway, Peter, et al. English Teachers in Postwar Democracy. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Miller, James E., Jr. What Happened at Dartmouth? (A Query by One Who Was There) [Address at Illinois Association of Teachers of English Meeting, Urbana, Oct. 17, 1969]. ERIC, Oct. 1969,

O’Neil, Wayne. “Conference Report: The Dartmouth Seminar.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 39, no. 2, 1969, pp. 359–62.

O’Neil, Wayne. “Project English: Lessons From Curriculum Reform Past.” Language and Linguistics Compass, vol. 1, no. 6, 2007, pp. 612–623.

Parker, Robert P. “From Sputnick to Dartmouth: Trends in the Teaching of Composition.” English Journal, Sept. 1979, pp. 32–37.

Reynolds, Dahliani. Composition & Public Engagements: Project English, NEH Seminars, & the National Writing Project. University of Pittsburgh Dissertation, 2012.

Squire, James, and James Britton. “Forward.” Growth through English: Set in the Perspective of the Seventies, 1975 ed., NATE, 1975, pp. vii–xviii.

Trimbur, John. “The Dartmouth Conference and the Geohistory of the Native Speaker.” College English, vol. 71, no. 2, 2008, pp. 142–69.

Zancanella, Don, et al. “Dartmouth Revisited: Three English Educators from Different Generations Reflect on the Dartmouth Conference.” English Education, vol. 49, no. 1, 2016, pp. 13–27.