The Literary and the Literate: The Study and Teaching of Writing in US English Departments

  • David R. Russell


The study and teaching of academic and other practical kinds of writing has become, over the last 40 years, a major focus within university English departments in the USA. Although the study and teaching of imaginative literature has traditionally had greater prestige, writing studies (as it is coming to be called) has altered the landscape of academic English dramatically, both within and beyond English departments. A typical US university provides support for student writing in various programmatic ways, which are usually housed in English departments. There are introductory courses in general academic writing (‘composition’) in the first year or two, required of almost all students (and have been so for 140 years). There is a ‘Writing Center’ that provides one-on-one or small group tuition for students in any course. There is a ‘Writing Across the Curriculum’ or ‘Writing in the Disciplines’ program that offers support to teaching staff in all departments on ways to use writing more effectively to support students’ learning in their fields. There are English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) courses mainly for international students. Often there are specialized communication courses to support writing in such fields as engineering, commerce, law, or the natural sciences. And increasingly there are four-year curricula where students earn a bachelor’s degree in writing, just as they might in literature or chemistry.


International Student Teaching Staff Literary Criticism Academic Writing Creative Writing 
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