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ERIC Number: EJ1081058
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1522-7502
More than 100 Years of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota
Beard, David
Composition Forum, v18 Sum 2008
As part of the development of a Department of Writing Studies in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, the 99-year-old Department of Rhetoric in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences was dismantled. The bulk of Rhetoric faculty have been shifted to this new department of Writing Studies. The undergraduate majors and minors (in Scientific and Technical Communication [STC], for example) and the graduate programs (the MS in STC and the MA and PhD in Rhetoric and STC) were shifted to the new Department of Writing Studies. Of all major research institutions, the University of Minnesota has had perhaps the most convoluted relationship with rhetorical theory and practice. The rhetorical tradition has been at the heart of the Department of Rhetoric and will be at the heart of the Department of Writing Studies--though institutional realignments always mean change. The rhetorical has been essential to the Department of Communication Studies since the postwar period. And, the College of Liberal Arts has housed a number of interdisciplinary initiatives that have included rhetorical study: a Communications program, a freestanding program in Composition; a Center for Advanced Studies in Language, Style, and Literary Theory, and a Center for Writing (offering a graduate minor in Literacy and Rhetorical Studies). This fragmentation and dispersal of rhetorical studies is part and parcel of the complex positioning of rhetoric at a Midwestern university with roughly 50,000 students. The particular dismantling of the Department of Rhetoric strikes a chord because this is not the first time that a Department of Rhetoric has been dismantled at the University of Minnesota. An examination of the history of the dissolution of the first Department of Rhetoric and the fate of its programs can serve as an important foil for the critical analysis of the current institutional position of rhetorical studies. The dialogue on the institutional position of rhetoric is functioning at an interdisciplinary level (through the Alliance for Rhetoric Societies and its related initiatives) and at the disciplinary level (as the Consortium for Doctoral Programs in Rhetoric and Composition seeks disciplinary status in the National Research Council). This comparison will allow the author to anecdotally demonstrate what he believes are generalizable conditions affecting the development of programs centered on rhetorical tradition.
Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A