Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

David R. Russell


Writing instruction in western Canadian universities between 1908 and 1957 was seen as a necessary technology of nation-building and the proper jurisdiction of English departments. After 1957, specialization in western Canadian universities enabled English departments to claim literature as the proper disciplinary object of their field and exclude writing instruction from their jurisdiction. Only recently has writing instruction returned to western Canadian university curriculums, but not in any systematic fashion;This study challenges the standard account of writing instruction in Canada: that the traditional first-year literature and composition class favored literature at the expense or even exclusion of composition. This study also challenges the idea that higher education and English departments in western Canada were primarily influenced by the University of Toronto, rather than American universities and English departments. American influences on western Canadian education were prevalent during the first half of this century;The contemporary difference in the practice of writing instruction in the two countries can be traced to a Canadian rejection of American values and practices during the Cold War. The Canada Council (1957) was particularly effective in solidifying the professional role of English departments as protectors and disseminators of high culture. While literary studies in the US also benefited from Cold War funding of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the growth of composition as a legitimate academic field was a far more significant development of this era;The past does not offer us something better to return to, but knowing that English studies in North America throughout this century has largely been tied to the work of nation-building, we must now assess the work of English studies and writing instruction in an era in which the role of the nation-state is changing radically and the function of higher education is up for grabs.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kevin Alfred Brooks



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

285 pages