Dr Susan Thomas, 'Fred Newton Scott: Why He Still Matters to Writing Across the Curriculum'

8 December, 2017
2 pm

Fred Newton Scott: Why He Still Matters to Writing Across the Curriculum


Sixty five years after the publication of Albert Kitzhaber’s landmark dissertation that reintroduced Fred Newton Scott to a new generation of scholars, Scott’s significance to the field of Rhetoric and Composition, and to WPA work in particular, has been well-established. Less explored, however, is what his legacy still has to teach us about building and, perhaps more importantly, sustaining WAC programs.


In “WAC at Century’s End: Haunted by the Ghost of Fred Newton Scott” (1997), Susan H. McLeod recounts the now-familiar story of the demise of the Rhetoric Department at the University of Michigan as a cautionary tale for the sustainability of WAC programs. While the words “writing across the curriculum” appear nowhere in Scott’s papers or textbooks, his key rhetorical moves seem to suggest a prefiguring of what we know today as WAC. Scott resisted Current-Traditional Rhetoric and the trend towards scientific objectivism to form an interdisciplinary network of likeminded colleagues with a more holistic pedagogical perspective and a focus on writing transfer.


In (Inter)disciplinary roots: A study of influence and collaboration in the work of Fred Newton Scott, Ivan Davis demonstrates how Scott’s composition theory and pedagogy was influenced by what he learned about medicine from John Harvey Kellogg and about philosophy from John Dewey. Often portrayed as a “lonely giant,” (Connors), Scott wasn’t, as Lisa Mastrangelo has suggested, so much a lone wolf as the leader of the pack. Moreover, Scott’s involvement in a variety of progressive interdisciplinary networks and societies at Michigan further suggests a remarkable foresight into the future of writing studies and the formation of WAC. This paper, an extract from a monograph project, will focus on Scott's interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues at the University of Michigan.


Susan Thomas is Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Writing Studies. She has published articles and book chapters on Rhetoric and Composition and Writing Program Administration, and is currently completing two sole-authored research monographs: one a revisionist historiography of Fred Newton Scott and the other an auto-ethnography of the development of the WRIT program and Writing Hub, the first program of its kind in Australia. Susan has served on the Executive Boards of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, The Council of Writing Program Administrators, and The Australian Association of Writing Programs, as well as on the editorial boards of TEXT, Across the Disciplines, The WAC Clearinghouse, and Young Scholars in Writing. Susan is a co-founder of the newly launched Australasian Writing Network, whose inaugural conference will be held at the University of Sydney in November 2018.


Please RSVP to AND by COB 7th of December.

Location: All talks take place in Room 330, Writing hub Tutorial Room, Old Teacher's College (A22)

Contact:Megan Ivory