Michael G. Moran

Aydelotte on the cover of Time.

Aydelotte at the helm of Swarthmore.

Einstein and Aydelotte at Princeton.

Frank Aydelotte and the Oxford Approach to English Studies in America

Arguably Swarthmore's most powerful president, Frank Aydelotte had one of the most influential careers in higher education during the 20th century. A new book, entitled FRANK AYDELOTTE AND THE OXFORD APPROACH TO ENGLISH STUDIES IN AMERICA, 1908-1940, by Michael G. Moran, examines Aydelotte's teaching career that began as an English professor at Indiana University (IU) and ended as Swarthmore's president.

Aydelotte took his B.A. at IU and then matriculated for the M.A. at Harvard University, where he studied with some of the most important English professors of the period. His most significant educational experience, however, began in 1904 at Oxford University in England, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar from Indiana. There he experienced the English honors program, which required students to work at their highest level. Aydelotte decided to bring some of the Oxford principles back to the United States to make education there more demanding.

Upon returning to America in 1907, he began his attempts to improve American higher education, especially in English studies. His first job was in IU's English Department, where he developed the thought approach to teaching freshman English. Unlike the dominant Harvard method of writing instruction, which emphasized teaching mechanics, spelling, and form, the thought approach required students to read important literature, think about and discuss it, and write thoughtful essays in response to it. Aydelotte then moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he modified the thought approach for engineering students. He then accepted the presidency of Swarthmore College, where he changed that school from a sleepy Quaker college that emphasized sports and social life to one of the top small colleges in the nation. He developed the school's famous honors program, which initiated in America many of the principles he had experienced at Oxford and became a model for honors education across the nation. Writing remained of central importance because students worked in small seminars and presented papers on the course topic.

FRANK AYDELOTTE AND THE OXFORD APPROACH TO ENGLISH STUDIES IN AMERICA, 1908-1940 (University Press of America 2006) is the first book that examines in detail Aydelotte's education and work in English studies.

Book Review and Comment

"Moran weaves within discussions of Aydelotte's academic career and educational theories an informative analysis of the educational climate characterizing other institutions and the rhetorical practices of contemporaries. Moran offers a rich grounding of Aydelotte's contributions, providing a detailed view of the early twentieth-century educational landscape. Those interested in early twentieth-century American pedagogy, the disciplinary history of English studies, the history of composition practices (especially scholars of lit/​comp debates and technical writing instruction), honors programs, and progressive education will find [this book] to be informative and enlightening. This work also provides rich, detailed institutional histories of Indiana, MIT, and Swarthmore universities. Most importantly, Moran has produced the definitive analysis of Frank Aydelotte's contributions to English studies, researched and written in the same vein as the excellent entries found in his critical reference volumes...."

Lynee Lewis Gaillet
Rhetoric Review

"Little detailed work has been completed in this area [the academic history of technical communication]. Certainly the most exemplary study of this kind is Moran's FRANK AYDELOTTE AND THE OXFORD APPROACH TO ENGLISH STUDIES IN AMERICA, 1908-1940 . . . his study has a depth that scholars should emulate."

Merrill Whitburn
"Technical Writers' Institute" JBTC 2009

Selected Works

A Nick Stirling novella published by Kindle Books
A Nick Stirling novel
Rhetorical Criticism
This book analyzes the rhetorical strategies used in the reports associated with Sir Walter Raleigh's attempts to found a colony on the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina. It also examines the rhetorical strategies of the maps and ethnographic illustrations of the native Virginians the English colonists met.
Professional Biography
Using a biographical approach, this book examines Frank Aydelotte's career as one of the nation's most important English professors of the early 20th century."Moran has produced the definitive analysis of Frank Aydelotte's contributions to English studies written in the same vein as his excellent reference volumes."--Rhetoric Review
Reference Collections
"Essential....cannot be ignored." --Choice "a milestone in the progress of U.S. rhetoric studies in the twenty-first century." --Rhetorica
Edited with Michelle Ballif, this work collects introductory essays on the major and many minor rhetoricians of the 20th century. --"The editors have done a commendable job of identifying forty critical scholars and have amassed some of the best brief introductions to how these thinkers approach the study of rhetoric." --American Communication Journal --"this book should be welcomed as an efficient and helpful guide to twentieth-century rhetoric. Many a veteran scholar among us will also profit from consulting its neat summaries and assessments." —Rhetoric Review 20.3/4 --"highly recommended addition to the reference shelves." --Choice
"Informative and enjoyable to read." --Rhetoric Review
This book collects new and classic essays in the growing field of the history of techical, commercial, and scientific communication.
A collection of bibliographic essays. --"a classic in the field." Technical Communication --Won the National Council of English Award for the Best Collection of Essays in Technical Communication
A collection of bibliographic essays covering the fields of composition studies and rhetoric.
A collection of bibliographical essays that cover various aspects of basic and developmental English.