The documents hosted in this exhibit can be explored linearly by navigating to the pages below. Each page includes a brief explanation of the major events relating to that year.

1975 As the Vietnam War ramps down, the university begins to wrestle with problems such as grade inflation, Teaching-Assistant training, and the balance between research and teaching.

1976    James Kinneavy runs the writing program and writes the syllabus for E 306 (the required writing course at UT), while James Sledd crusades against poor training and heavy teaching loads for graduate instructors.

1977  In response to perceived abuses of graduate instructors, The Texas State legislature tries to regulate the hiring and employment of TAs; the General Faculty Council and the English Department substantially reform TA-training and employment.

1978 James Sledd continues his crusade, taking aim at the emphasis on research rather than teaching; the English Department improves its teacher-training program for graduate instructors.

1979 Kinneavy continues to improve the first-year writing curriculum, while the English Department experiences labor shortages.

1980 As the English Department continues its efforts to refine the new 9-hour English requirement (1975/1977), a university-wide committee (the Vick Committee) issues a report on the core curriculum, recommending that all students take at least six hours of upper-division substantial writing component (SWC) courses in their majors; both the English Department and the Faculty Council begin to debate major changes in the writing curriculum.

1981 The Faculty Senate approves both the Vick Committee Report and the English Department's proposal to revise the required writing program; together, these separate, but related, proposals require six hours of upper-division SWC courses and a new writing-in-the-disciplines course (E 346K).

1982 As staffing troubles mount, the English Department develops syllabi and prepares for a full roll-out of the E 346K requirement.

1983  While the first-year writing program remains stable, the English Department begins to fracture over the E 346K requirement and its growing pool of lecturers.

1984 UT begins to implement the Vick Committee's SWC requirement, as the English Department struggles to staff and administer the E 346K courses; English faculty openly fight over the ballooning pool of lecturers who comprise roughly 40% of the faculty and teach roughly 50% of the undergraduate classes.

1985 Conflict among the English faculty inspires the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts to put the Department in limited receivership; a new departmental governance strips lecturers of their voting rights; additionally, all the colleges across the university cancel the E 346K requirement; nearly 50 English lecturers learn that their contracts would not be renewed in the 1985/6 academic year.

1986   E 346K is officially cancelled, E 306 is phased out, and E 309 is invented.

1987   Literature faculty take control of the writing program but keep the E 306 curriculum largely the same, while the University Council continues to examine the SWC component of the Basic Education Requirements.

1988   Administration of the first-year writing program is folded into the administration of lower-division literature, while budgetary problems restrict the number of E 309 courses that the department can offer.

1989 Linda Brodkey, with support from the English Department chair and the Dean of Liberal Arts, decides to revise the E 306 curriculum.

1990 Brodkey's proposed E 306 syllabus,  "Writing about Difference," prompts debate within the English Department, at the university, and in the national press.

1991 Controversy over "Writing about Difference" leads to the course's cancellation and poisons efforts to develop a new E 306 syllabus.

1992 By fiat, the UT President creates a new autonomous Division of Rhetoric and Composition in an effort to quell the many controversies surrounding the writing program.

1993 The Division of Rhetoric and Composition opens its doors.

1994 As the faculty involved in the "Writing about Difference" controversy continue to debate, the Division of Rhetoric and Composition establishes its place in the university community.

1995 The Division of Rhetoric and Composition is firmly established as an autonomous unit, hiring tenure-track faculty and inventing new courses.

1996 UT English faculty and Brodkey publish accounts of the "Writing about Difference" controversy.

Prev Next