An NEH Fellowship examined: Social networks and composition history

Stephanie A Almagno, University of Rhode Island


Until now, histories of composition studies have been predicated on the idea that discipline formation stems solely from textual evidence generated by individual scholars; few histories, however, take into account the influence of social networks formed by the field's professionals. Addressing what Janice Lauer refers to as "loopholes" in composition history, this dissertation constructs a working definition of social networks while it also offers an extended example of their historical significance.^ I focus on the 1978-79 NEH Fellowship, "Rhetorical Invention and the Composing Process," directed by Richard Young at Carnegie-Mellon University. From oral and print sources including interviews with or texts written by the fellowship participants, I gathered information concerning the social network that developed from the 1978-79 fellowship. I present this history of the fellowship as a conversation among the participants and the director. In addition, a section of commentary following the conversation indicates social networks' integral position in composition studies.^ In composition history, a discussion of discipline development is always complicated by its seemingly dissonant components which include journal formation, professional projects, conference presentations, and the role of networking among the field's professionals. A history of the field based on social networks, however, gathers these components and addresses them in relation to professional activity. This dissertation proposes a new way to examine traditional areas of inquiry within composition history. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Education, History of

Recommended Citation

Stephanie A Almagno, "An NEH Fellowship examined: Social networks and composition history" (1994). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9513235.