Diary of a Mad Emerita

During the years I taught college English, I had a ringside seat watching a new breed of Jacobins seize control of a university English department, then extend their reach throughout the humanities. Posing as the champions of “social justice,” they have built an empire cultivating “victims”—and silencing colleagues who oppose the new mission of the … Continue reading “Diary of a Mad Emerita”

College Writing Courses Are in Trouble, But This Isn’t the Solution

Freshman composition occupies a unique position in a college curriculum. It is the only class required of about 90 percent of enrollees whose diverse aptitudes and prior writing experience present a challenge for instructors every semester. In Why They Can’t Write, instructor John Warner of the College of Charleston proposes a course he says will … Continue reading “College Writing Courses Are in Trouble, But This Isn’t the Solution”

The Modern University’s Greatest Failing

In 2006, I clipped a “Non Sequitur” cartoon that captured perfectly the mystique that surrounds our nation’s universities. The cartoon pictured a professor ensconced in a cubicle surrounded by an alligator-infested moat, drawbridge up. One outsider, gazing across the moat, says to another: “We have no idea what he does, which, of course, is one … Continue reading “The Modern University’s Greatest Failing”

Miller Discusses Problems with College Writing

This is a portion of Nan Miller’s speech to the John Locke Foundation Monday. Miller discussed a recent study examining college writing courses to a crowd of 40 people. This excerpt shows typical conversations one may have about college writing programs.

Imagine for a minute that you have a daughter who is a freshman at Carolina. That�s the question I put to you. What if� (when the ink is barely dry on the tuition check) you had this conversation with your daughter. I�ll call her Page, and let�s say that she has been at Carolina for about a month and has left Chapel Hill for her very first weekend at home. She might be bursting with the details about her social life, but you are impatient to hear about the courses you just wrote the big check for. So you interrupt�

Inquiry Paper No. 24: English 101: Prologue to Literacy or Postmodern Moonshine?

Since freshman composition became a required course at Harvard in 1872, it has seen many changes, but none so radical as the changes brought about in the 1970s, when composition theory became a specialty. Postmodern theories about teaching composition have transformed writing programs nationwide, and this paper examines what has become of freshman writing courses at the two flagship branches of the University of North Carolina, N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Study Examines College Writing Courses

RALEIGH � Postmodern theorists have changed the way composition courses in college are taught, eliminating literature and grammar instruction by imposing group discussions with little involvement from the teachers, according to a new study released Monday by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

The study, written by Nan Miller, a former English professor at North Carolina State University and Meredith College, discusses several fallacies that she believes have severely lowered the quality of writing among college students.