Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




What I have attempted to determine in this study of freshman English programs in selected private, liberal arts colleges in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa is the role that literature has in the freshman writing programs of these colleges.

Based on the pedagogical and theoretical essays I had read prior to beginning this study, I believed there was a trend in writing instruction theory that would necessitate a deemphasis on literary studies in freshman writing instruction. Contemporary composition theory is based on the belief that freshman writing is best taught through instruction in typical rhetorical modes, such as the comparison/contrast or the definition essay. Because this kind of writing instruction usually relies on essays as models for writing, there is generally very little, if any, chance for students to read literary works, such as poetry or fiction. Thus, since literary study is not vital to the teaching of writing, many scholars (such as Maxine Hairston, who is discussed in the next section) argue that composition studies should become an independent discipline that has little, if any, allegiance to the traditional English department emphasis on literary studies. They support this division by referring to the depth and validity of research in composition study. However, at the same time these scholars are championing composition studies, a number of scholars, who are discussed in the next section, have called for a union of composition and literary study that could draw on the strengths of each field. In other words, theorists are still trying to establish whether this is a time of schism or a time for reorganization.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Carole A. Teator



Date Available

April 27, 2013

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38 pages