Lucille M. Schultz's The Young Composers: Composition's Beginnings in Nineteenth-Century Schools is the first full-length history of school-based writing instruction. Schultz demonstrates that writing instruction in nineteenth-century American schools is much more important in the overall history of writing instruction than we have previously assumed.
Drawing on primary materials that have not been considered in previous histories of writing instruction—little-known textbooks and student writing that includes prize-winning essays, journal entries, letters, and articles written for school newspapers—Schultz shows that in nineteenth-century American schools, the voices of the British rhetoricians that dominated college writing instruction were attenuated by the voice of the Swiss education reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. Partly through the influence of Pestalozzi's thought, writing instruction for children in schools became child-centered, not just a replica or imitation of writing instruction in the colleges.
It was also in these nineteenth-century American schools that personal or experience-based writing began and where the democratization of writing was institutionalized. These schools prefigured some of our contemporary composition practices: free writing, peer editing, and the use of illustrations as writing prompts. It was in these schools, in fact, where composition instruction as we know it today began, Schultz argues.
This book features a chapter on the agency of textbook iconography, which includes illustrations from nineteenth-century composition books as well as a cultural analysis of those illustrations. Schultz also includes a lengthy bibliography of nineteenth-century composition textbooks and student and school newspapers.
Drawing on his own experience in the profession, veteran English professor and internationally renowned scholar Jerome Klinkowitz sorts out the wrong ways of teaching literature before devising a new, successful method. Specifically, he concludes that a historically based “story of English” is precisely the wrong narrative approach to making sense of what literature does. Instead, Klinkowitz proposes a new method focused not on the product of literary writing but on the process of writing. Long involved with the making of contemporary literature, Klinkowitz shows how his classroom approach draws on the same strengths and inspirations writers use in the creation of literature. He involves students in the literary work as production.
Despite almost universal agreement that literary studies fail both writers and students, solutions have been limited to suggestions by superstar theorists teaching cream-of-the-crop students at elite universities. Klinkowitz aims not at the elite but at the ordinary student in an introduction to literature class. His goal is to introduce teachers to a new philosophy of teaching literature and to further deepen students’ natural love for the subject. He also seeks to revive the love of fine writing in those whose joy in the subject fell victim to obtuse teaching methods. Uniquely, his is not an esoteric theory developed by the best academics for elite students but a commonsense approach that works well in the kind of schools most students attend.