"A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966 is a book I recommend to every colleague and student of composition and repeatedly return to, myself, both for its thoughtful understandings of the terms of debate in composition and for the example Harris sets of generous, careful, honest, reflective writing—writing that helps us to rethink the terms we use to name and carry out the work that we do in composition. . . . Harris uses the occasion of this new edition of A Teaching Subject not simply to update but to add fresh, insightful perspectives, elegantly expressed, to the cornucopia presented in the original. Those of us familiar with the original will be rewarded with the opportunity this new edition gives us to revisit Harris's arguments and explore his current reflections on them. Those readers new to A Teaching Subject will find a useful unpacking of key terms dominating talk about composition teaching—growth, voice, process, community, negotiation, error—leading to a persuasive argument that teaching composition, rather than an occasion to apply theories generated elsewhere, is itself an occasion for and generative site of intellectual work."
—Bruce Horner, Endowed Chair in Rhetoric and Composition, University of Louisville
In this classic text, Joseph Harris traces the evolution of college writing instruction since the Dartmouth Seminar of 1966. A Teaching Subject offers a brilliant interpretive history of the first decades during which writing studies came to be imagined as a discipline separable from its partners in English studies. Postscripts to each chapter in this new edition bring the history of composition up to the present.
Reviewing the development of the field through five key ideas, Harris unfolds a set of issues and tensions that were present in Dartmouth and continue to shape the teaching of writing today. Ultimately, he builds a case, now deeply influential in its own right, that composition defines itself through its interest and investment in the literacy work that students and teachers do together. Unique among English studies fields, composition, Harris contends, is a teaching subject.