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Before Shaughnessy: Basic Writing at Yale and Harvard, 1920-1960

Series: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric
Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press / CCCC & NCTE
xi, 171 p.
ISBN-13: 978-0-8093-2924-3 (Paperback); ISBN-10: 0-8093-2924-7 (Paperback)

Listen to the Podcast with author Kelly Ritter and SWR Editor Joe Harris:

Author Information

Kelly Ritter is chair of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and professor of writing and communication in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. Her scholarship focuses on archival histories of US writing programs and pedagogies, and cultural-historical conceptions of social class and literacy education. Her books are Before Shaughnessy: Basic Writing at Yale and Harvard, 1920-1960 (NCTE/SIU Press, 2009), Who Owns School? Authority, Students, and Online Discourse (Hampton Press, 2010), To Know Her Own History: Writing at the Woman’s College, 1943-1963 (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) and Reframing the Subject: Postwar Instructional Film and Class-Conscious Literacies (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). She is also the author of numerous articles and chapters, and editor or coeditor of four collections, including  Beyond Fitting In: Rethinking First-Generation Writing and Literacy Education (Modern Language Association, 2023). She is past editor (2012-2017) of College English, a flagship journal of the National Council of Teachers of English.


Basic writing; basic writers; history of composition; ability testing; first-year writing; archival research; placement; literacy; remediation; Mina Shaughnessy; Yale University; Harvard University; Ivy League institutions


Reviewed by Gregory R. Glau in WPA: Writing Program Administration 33.1/2 (Fall/Winter 2009) (PDF format)

Reviewed by Composition Forum 22 (2010)

Purchasing Information

Purchase this book from Southern Illinois University Press.

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