NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED561606
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 187
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-2532-5
The Bartholomae-Elbow Debate and Conflicting Progressivisms in Composition Pedagogy
Early, Robert
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Saint Louis University
This dissertation reads David Bartholomae's and Peter Elbow's famous debate about academic and personal writing as a debate about how best to empower students, both as individuals and as representatives of communities, according to a progressive understanding of student-empowerment. I read the debate both in terms of its historical context--as a 1990s clash of 60s-style and post-60s progressivisms--and in terms of its implications for the present and future of composition studies and writing pedagogy. My sense of what student-empowerment means, according to the tradition of progressive education, is drawn from John Dewey's pedagogy. Working from Dewey, I argue that student-empowerment, as a progressive ideal, means helping students to resist being subjugated by hierarchically organized institutions and discourses--whether as students today or workers tomorrow. In this light, Elbow's and Bartholomae's pedagogies may each be thought progressive. Whereas in Elbow, however, we find a relatively straightforward approach to empowering students, Bartholomae's approach is more complex. Elbow simply works to keep academic discourse, as a potentially subjugating force, out of the first-year composition classroom. To Bartholomae, on the other hand, empowering students means underscoring the presence of academic and other powerful discourses in the classroom, even in what students presume to be their personal voices. Historically speaking, this difference between Elbow's and Bartholomae's progressivisms speaks to changing conceptions of the "Establishment" from the 1960s to the post-60s. In a sense, the difference between Elbovian/60s-style progressivism and its Bartholomaen/post-60s counterpart hinges on the issue of ownership, regarding newcomers to the academy. Elbow invites new college students to own their writing in a way that Bartholomae finds to be naive. Bartholomae-Elbow's relevance to current developments in writing pedagogy lies in its implications for the question of what ownership means, not only for individual first-year students, but also for the traditionally underrepresented communities many represent. Thinking through Elbow's and Bartholomae's pedagogies in light of this question, I consider problems built into each which today's progressives should avoid, whichever tradition we are inclined to invoke. The dissertation concludes with reflection upon my own classroom practice, as informed by Bartholomae-Elbow. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A