Michael G. Moran

Selections from My Most Recent Books

Selection from Chapter Five of Inventing Virginia

5: The English Gaze, Virginia,
and the Roanoke Indians: John White as Ethnographic Illustrator

The de Bry edition of Hariot’s Report consisted of more than its written fantasy themes. These themes were supported by the maps and illustrations of John White, the expedition artist that Raleigh hired to work with Hariot to survey the Outer Banks. Writing in support of Raleigh’s 1585 voyage, the elder Richard Hakluyt, one of the foremost advocates of England’s entering the race to colonize the New World, argued that a “skilfull painter is also to be carried with you which the Spaniards used commonly in all their discoveries to bring the descriptions of all beasts, birds, fishes, trees, townes, &c.” (Hakluyt [the elder] “Inducements to the Liking” 69). In mentioning the Spanish use of artists, Hakluyt undoubtedly had in mind Francisco Hernandez, whom Phillip II sent to Mexico to gather detailed information on plants, animals, minerals, and people. Hernandez lived there from 1570 through 1577, during which time he assembled a team of cartographers, painters, and collectors to conduct the first survey of Mexico (Hulton and Quinn 1:33). This survey produced a visual record of some magnitude. His pictures and descriptions reportedly filled seventeen volumes which contained about 1200 colored sketches, and this work provided the two Richard Hakluyts, who had connections with the Escorial Library where the volumes were secreted away, with a model for what an expedition artist could accomplish in America. Raleigh took the elder Hakluyt’s advice and hired the obscure artist White to work with Thomas Hariot to survey and create a pictorial record of Virginia.
While White may have set foot on the Outer Banks during four separate voyages (1584, 1585, 1587, and 1590), it was during the 1585-1586 colonization effort under the Lane governorship that the artist accomplished most of his work, although evidence exists that White might have drawn a picture when governor in 1587 of an American swallow-tail butterfly that he gave to Thomas Moffett for his Insectorum…Theatrum (Adams 90). White created a visual record of, among other things, the Algonkian Indians that the English contacted (see Hulton’s America for an accessible edition of the complete drawings). As art historian Hugh Honour writes, White’s drawings, with Hariot’s comments, “form an unrivaled record of North America as it appeared to Europeans in the sixteenth century”(European Vision 32), and Hulton argues that White’s “Indian drawings set a new standard for the illustration of discovery” (“John White’s Drawings” 6). While White drew and painted plants and animals as well as maps (see Chapter 6), his ethnographic illustrations captured the European imagination and functioned for at least a century as one of the archetypes for the Native American. This wide dissemination was due largely to his watercolors being etched by Theodor de Bry and his colleagues and being published in four languages–Latin, English, German, and French–in the first book of de Bry’s America series. This volume included Hariot’s Report (1590), to which de Bry appended The True Pictures and Fashions of the People in That Parte of America Called Virginia and Some Pictures of the Picts. The first of these appendixes contained a section of etchings based on White’s ethnographic watercolors accompanied by Hariot’s written commentary on Indian life and customs. The front page of the English version notes that the younger Hakluyt, who arranged to have Hariot’s report published by de Bry, had translated this commentary into English from Hariot’s original Latin. An indication of the volume’s popularity is that it was reprinted at least seventeen times from 1590 to 1620 (Adams 89).

These illustrations indicate the degree to which the English gaze penetrated into Algonkian culture. White and Hariot used techniques of European surveillance to inspect the Indians and their land, and this inspection objectified the Indian people and familiarized them to the English observer. White’s gaze ordered and structured Virginia and its people, and used what Spurr calls the “commanding view” to present panoramas of Virginia that convey a sense of mastery over the unknown (15-16). White’s panoramas as published in de Bry implicitly claim control and ownership over all that is pictured (17). In addition to panoramas, White’s illustrations penetrate into the interiors of Indian culture, exploring its secrets, such as its villages and sacred places, including charnel houses with their idol and the mummified bodies of former chiefs. And White’s gaze falls upon the Indian body, making it an object of study and objectification. White captures these bodies in the intimate actions of daily life, including eating, dancing, and conversing. Indian leaders were displayed as objects useful to English merchants who needed to distinguish Indian leaders from followers in order to trade effectively. Finally, with the gaze comes appropriation of the territory surveyed and the people within it. The natural abundance could be claimed as rightly belonging to the civilized English with their superior technologies and political and military organizations that prepared them to appropriate and then develop it.

Although much of White’s work was lost when Drake’s sailors threw overboard many of the 1585 colony’s trunks in their haste to depart from Virginia for England, a portion of the drawings exists in three sources. First, a collection of the original watercolors remains in existence that White might have presented to an unidentified figure in Elizabeth’s Court. These are the only known original copies of White’s work. Second, also in existence is a collection of drawings made by an unknown artist (probably one of White’s relatives) based on extant as well as lost White originals. Though far from perfect, these drawings, known as the Sloane collection, give us a sense of the range of White’s interests and talents. Third, etchings by de Bry made from White originals in Pictures and Fashions have long been available because they were published and widely disseminated. For the purpose of this chapter, I will refer the reader to the most accessible reproduction of White’s work, Paul Hulton’s America 1585, when referring to particular illustrations.

Visuals in Technical Communication

Little work has been done on the history of visuals in technical communication (Rivers 265), but this situation is changing, especially as specialists in the applied areas of the field come to appreciate the importance of visual communication. While B. F. Barton and M. S. Barton argue that technical communicators too often mistakenly hold a “product view of visuals,” which assumes writing comes first and visuals merely support the finished written document, a more accurate view is that “visual communication is an integral part of communication activity, rather than a discrete component” (135). Other current theorists have expanded this position. M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Michael K. Gilbertson have developed the “principle of complementarity,” an argument that visual and verbal signs, though different, should function together to create documents with integrated sign systems (45). Karen A. Schriver argues that the field of document design should be “concerned with creating texts (broadly speaking) that integrate words and pictures in ways that help people to achieve their specific goals in using texts” (10-11). In other words, technical communicators should view visuals as central to the communication process. T. R. Williams agrees that images and words should be effectively integrated in documents. Both words and images, he argues, are signs that substitute for some entity, a referent, that is usually not immediately present. However, the visual sign has some advantages over the verbal. While language transforms fleeting thought into propositions, which readers process sequentially, visuals present directly large amounts of information the viewer can process simultaneously (674). Jacques Bertin attributes this advantage of visuals to the fact that spacial systems, unlike linear systems like the printed word, “communicate the relationships among three variables…the variation of marks [on the page] and the two dimensions [vertical and horizontal] of the plane”(3). A map, for instance, provides a quicker, more accessible overview of a region and the relationship among that region’s features than a verbal description can, and an accurate ethnographic illustration of an Indian leader provides a quicker overview of the subject’s dress and physiognomy than can a written description, no matter how detailed. Finally, visual, like verbal, communication functions rhetorically. As Hadley Read argues, visual communication attempts to “influence the receiver in some way” (252). The sender uses the visual to achieve a purpose–or a combination of purposes–“to inform, motivate, persuade, instruct, or entertain” a viewer (252). In short, technical communicators should view visuals as an important channel of communication, and specialists interested in the history of engineering, business, and scientific communication should examine the development of visual communication for technical purposes. Elizabeth Tebeaux has begun this work with Renaissance texts by analyzing the format and page design that made early how-to books useful to readers. This chapter and the next attempt to add to our understanding of this development by examining the White-Hariot-de Bry ethnographic illustrations and maps of Virginia. Since some of this material exists in manuscripts and had limited distribution, I will focus largely on the de Bry etchings, which were the form in which White’s illustrations were widely disseminated.

This chapter begins with an analysis of White’s artistic techniques within the context of 16th-century European art, and then turns, using fantasy-theme analysis and the tropes of colonization, to examine the persuasive strategies in White’s ethnographic illustrations.

White’s Significance to Technical Communication

Because White developed into the foremost Renaissance ethnographic illustrator in 16th-century England, he is a significant but unrecognized figure in the history of technical and scientific communication (see, however, the brief evaluation in Moran “John White”). His illustrations of the American Indians demonstrate the rising interest during this period for accurate, scientific representation. The scientific world view expressed in these watercolors was new to British illustration, and it resulted from a number of influences. These include the influence of Hariot, one of Renaissance England’s most innovative scientific minds, who collaborated with White in America and encouraged him to view the world with care and precision; the climate of the times, which was beginning to encourage the close observation of nature, including human nature, that also gave rise to the work of Bacon early in the following century; and the Renaissance voyages of discovery and the resultant colonization movements, which encouraged Europeans to view the world from a fresh, comparative perspective.

Even though White was the product of these forces, he was also the product of specific artistic and aesthetic influences that he received from his training in England during the mid-sixteenth century. White’s significance to technical communication grew from how he modified his native training to develop techniques for creating a referential art that allowed him to produce some of the earliest ethnographic illustrations in Renaissance England. The next few sections of this chapter will examine in detail White’s training and how he modified it for referential purposes. The chapter will also examine the new techniques that White himself pioneered to provide his viewers with complex cultural information about his Native American subjects.

White’s Life and General Training

Although we know few specifics about White’s life and artistic training, we can reconstruct that training by examining what we do know of his life and the artistic milieu in which he worked. He was probably born in the West Country sometime between 1540 and 1550 (Hulton “Images” 198) of a humble family and married between 1565 and 1570 (Hulton and Quinn 12). By 1588 he was a grandfather, his daughter, Eleanor, giving birth that year to Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World. That he had some artistic training is certain. A member of the Painters-Stainers Company of London, his name appears on the list of “freeoffees” (younger members of the Livery) of that company in 1580 (Englefield 64n). This guild included painters and craftsmen who performed a variety of jobs, including decorating houses (painting murals, for example), painting portraits, and providing artistic skills for pageants, masques, and plays (Quinn Set Fair 182). According to the Charter of Queen Elizabeth, to become a member of the guild, White had to serve an apprenticeship of seven years (Englefield 85), which means he would have entered the apprenticeship in about 1573 at the latest. As his drawings of the temporary fortifications that Ralph Lane constructed in the Caribbean on the voyage out in 1585 suggest, White also appears to have had training in estate surveying, which was not an uncommon secondary occupation at the time for a painter. After being carefully drawn, painted with a colored wash, and illustrated to emphasize notable features of the estate, these surveys were often hung as wall decorations in the manor houses. As his extant collection of costume drawings suggests, White also had experience in the Renaissance costume tradition that originated on the Continent and that was closely connected to geographic discoveries and the exploration movement. Most important to this chapter, White was without doubt trained as a limner, an artist who painted miniature portraits of important Elizabethans. All evidence suggests that White was trained in almost all genres of Renaissance art practiced in England during the late 16th century. He was also familiar with Continental traditions that were being introduced by foreign artists such as Lucas de Heere of the Netherlands and Jacques Le Moyne of France.

The Influence of Limning

One of the most important influences on White’s ethnographic paintings was limning, a term derived from “illuminating.” As this derivation suggests, limning, the painting of miniatures, was connected to rubricating and illuminating manuscripts with “calligraphic decoration and pictures” (Winter 6). Illuminating itself died out as a vital art form about 1477 with the development of printing, which created a new kind of artist, the illustrator such as de Bry, who worked with woodcuts and/​or etchings on copper plates (Lister 17). Many of the techniques of illumination, however, were adapted to the painting of small portraits of the important and powerful. Limners painted these portraits using fine brushes called “pencils” with opaque watercolors on small sheets of parchment stuck to a piece of a playing card cut into various shapes, such as rounds, ovals, or rectangles (Winter 6). Although limners usually painted just their subjects’ faces and upper bodies, they also sometimes painted full-body portraits of the kind that White produced of Indians.

The Development of Limning in England

In the early years of the 16th century, most limners in England were foreigners, such as Lucas Horenbout and Hans Holbein, who resided there and established a native tradition. As art historian Roy Strong argues, limning “emerge[d] as a fiercely nationalistic art suited to Protestant England, its monarchs and the new establishment they created” (11). It especially suited the cult of personality Elizabeth encouraged, and she herself was the subject of countless miniatures that she presented to various admirers. Because limning became the dominant art form in England, it would be surprising if White had not been strongly influenced by the limners, especially given that he, being a Painter-Stainer, was centered near the Court where most limners practiced their craft. Yet another connection with the limners would have been through Raleigh, who was one of Elizabeth’s favorites at Court during the 1580s, and who himself sat for the most famous English limner, Nicholas Hilliard. The portrait is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Hilliard and Limning

Because Hilliard was a central figure in 16th-century England’s art world, White might well have known him and was certainly influenced by him. According to art historian Linda Bradley Salamon, Hilliard’s style resulted from four influences: manuscript illumination; the Italian and Flemish visual concepts that Holbein introduced to England; the work of Albrecht Düer, the engraver and illustrator; and the Italian style of Rosso and Raphael that softened the harsher style of Düer (Salamon 70-73). Hilliard combined these influences with his experience as a goldsmith, which was his father’s trade in which he was apprenticed. By the late 1560s, he worked for Elizabeth as a goldsmith and a limner, and he produced his first miniature of her about that time (Lister 25). By 1572, he was master of his art and a favorite of the Queen and her Court (Winter 15). In about 1600, he wrote and circulated in manuscript the Art of Limning, the first theory of painting written by an English painter.

Hilliard made some changes in the social nature of limning that influenced White. Because the Queen did not support artists directly as had her father, Henry VIII (Hilliard did not receive a royal salary until four years before Elizabeth’s death in 1603), Hilliard, and other limnists, developed large workshops and began painting a broader spectrum of Elizabethan aristocracy and gentry than previous miniaturists had done (Strong “Tudor Miniature” 12). Although there is no hard evidence to support this conclusion, it is possible that White worked in Hilliard’s shop in Gutter Lane off Fleet Street, which opened in the early 1570s. If White did not actually work in the shop, he certainly would have known of it and perhaps visited there to pick up techniques and methods. At the very least, Hilliard had an indirect influence on White.

Limning and Ethnography

Some of Hilliard’s techniques were easily adapted to meet the needs of the ethnographer. Despite the anti-naturalistic tendencies of some of Hilliard’s work, art critics agree that limning in general and Hilliard’s work in particular attempted to capture accurately the personality and nature of the subject. Hilliard followed the Renaissance common place that the artist must paint the mind and soul of the subject and that these attributes are expressed by the countenance and position of the body (Salamon 128). Writes Hilliard in the Art of Limning, “of all things the perfection is to imitate the face of man kind…soe neare and so weel after the life, as that…the party, in all liknes for favor and complection is or may be well resembled” (Hilliard 65). White therefore must have found in Hilliard and the miniaturist tradition a model for the accurate and emphatic portrayal of the individual, and he drew on this tradition when he painted his Indians in 1585-86. The influence of Hilliard on White’s ethnographic illustrations, however, is found not only in this general concern for accurately capturing personality. It is found also in some of the anti-naturalistic conventions of the miniaturists. As Salamon notes, Hilliard’s full length portraits are posed in the stock position associated with the mannerist tradition of Italy and the Hapsburg Empire. The figures stand, “turned in the direction of a bent leg and pointed toe, the opposite hand on or near the engaged hip, [wearing] costume and decor that insistently display status” (72). This is a close description of the posture of one of White’s most famous ethnographic illustrations (see Hulton America 78) in which an Indian warrior stands with feet pointed out, one hand holding his bow (similar to the way Hilliard’s famous painting portrays the Earl of Cumberland holding his lance), the other on his hip, his head turned to the side, eyes looking into the distance. This pose is certainly not typical of Native American postures (as many of White’s more naturalistic illustrations demonstrate), but it suggests an important tendency in White’s work: he sometimes drew, and perhaps saw, Indians through the lens of his artistic tradition. He tended to attribute to many of his Indian subjects similar marks of status that the limnists attributed to English subjects. White thereby gave Indians a “place” in the perceptual hierarchy that his viewers, who were familiar with the limnist tradition, brought to his work. However, he also tended in his posed pictures to misrepresent his subjects in what was probably an attempt to create identifications based on similarities between the Indian subjects and the European viewers. These identifications served propagandistic purposes by ma-king the Indians appear more similar to the English than they actually were. By posing the Indian warrior like an English knight, White caused the warrior to lose his “Indianness” to the degree that he became Europeanized.

Hilliard also emphasized his subject’s status by using other techniques that White borrowed. First, as did all the limnists, Hilliard painted his figures in clothes and paraphernalia that clearly identified the subject’s ranks. Hilliard’s Cumberland, for instance, at the time one of Elizabeth’s favorites, stands dressed in Greenwich armor patterned with stars and surrounded by symbols of power, prestige, and the Queen’s favor (such as her glove fastened to his hat) (Strong “Tudor Miniature” 134-35). Similarly, White appears to have chosen Indians of some status to paint. For instance, among his extant illustrations are pictures of an Indian chief of Roanoke (probably Wingina/​Pemisapan), his status marked by a brass square hung around his neck (Hulton America 76); and an Indian conjurer whose significant social position is marked by the bird attached to his hair (Hulton America 79). This interest in status continues in the de Bry etching, apparently based on a lost White original, of an Indian with his back to the viewer to demonstrate the various marks used to identify an individual’s status, chief, and place of origin (Hulton America 129). As the historian Karen Ordahl Kupperman comments,

The English audience would have approved much about the culture White and Hariot described, particularly the regulation of each person’s position in the society by public marks. English citizens in Elizabethan times showed by their clothing and hairstyles, as well as special badges, their place of origin, occupation, and marital and societal status. They also expected to be able to tell at a glance the position of the person with whom they dealt…. That Indian culture also regulated relationships and status in this way made it [to English colonists] worthier of respect, more recognizable as a real society. (Kupperman Roanoke 50)

The question that Kupperman does not address is how accurate White’s observations of Indian society were and how much he tended, because of his Englishness, to read these marks of social hierarchy and control into what he saw. One answer to the accuracy question is found in Robert Berverley’s The History and Present State of Virginia (1705). Writing 120 years after White, Beverley vouches for the accuracy of White’s ethnographic drawings, and reproduces fourteen of de Bry’s etchings, often with important modifications. In two plates he updates the etchings by adding Indian figures dressed in their early-18th-century “winter” garb, which consisted of woolen blankets that replace the traditional animal skins. In his etching of the Indian woman carrying her child, Beverley adds a piece of ethnographic information not included in White or de Bry, an Indian baby strapped to a cradle board hanging from a tree (172).

Second, White followed the limner’s convention of emphasizing status by painting subjects from a lower angle so that they appear to look down upon the viewer. Many of White’s posed Indians–the priest, the chief, and the warrior in body paint–cast their eyes slightly downward. As several commentators have noted, White’s paintings express respect and appreciation for his Indian subjects as human beings, and one sign of this respect was to paint the Indian nobles using the conventions that limners used to paint British nobles.

Selection from Chapter One of Frank Aydelotte and the Oxford Approach to English Studies

1: Introduction

On June 5, 1933, Frank Aydelotte’s face appeared on the cover of Time magazine as a tribute to his many significant contributions to American higher education. He was, in fact, at the height of his influence as an educator. As the American Secretary to the Rhodes Trust, he had been the driving force behind making the Rhodes Scholarship the most prestigious academic scholarship that an American student could win (Blanshard 239-43; “Rhodesmen at Swarthmore” 47-48). In 1925 he had been instrumental in establishing the distinguished Guggenheim Fellowships and, in 1933, continued to serve as the organization’s Educational Advisor (Blanshard 246-54). Since 1921 he had been President of Swarthmore, a 500-student Quaker college that he had formed into one of the nation’s best small liberal arts schools (Beardsley et al. 3; Clark 186; “Rhodesmen” 48;Embree “Order” 662). He accomplished this goal by establishing Swarthmore’s influential Honors Program, which he, with the help of the Swarthmore faculty and its Board of Managers, had designed to stimulate bright students to work to their full potential free from the distractions of daily preparation for conventional classes. By 1933, the Swarthmore program had become the national model of its kind, and the academic community considered Aydelotte the leading expert on honors education. The editors of the June 5, 1933, issue of Time recognized his influence by commenting on the cover that “He would reprieve democracy from mediocrity,” a statement that expressed a growing belief at the time that American higher education catered to the average and neglected the superior student. It also expressed a growing sense of elitism that began to permeate American higher education–the belief, which Aydelotte embraced, that at least some American colleges should prepare a select group of leaders to exert American influence on the world stage.

While Aydelotte has been recognized for his many accomplishments as an administrator, he has not been as widely recognized for his contributions to the development of English studies during the first half of the 20th century. Before accepting Swarthmore’s presidency, he was in fact one of the most innovative English professors in the United States, developing nationally important English courses and curriculums at Indiana University (1908-1915) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1915-1921) before revamping Swarthmore’s traditional small college curriculum (1921-1940). He attempted to apply to all of his curriculums some of the methods that he had experienced as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford from 1905-07 and 1912-13. This experience convinced him that Oxford had established educational methods, such as the tutorial system and the honors schools, that produced a better-trained undergraduate than did the American system. Oxford graduates, in his opinion, were prepared to function as leaders in their fields and thereby expand the influence of England throughout the world. He believed that the Oxford system could be modified to meet American needs (Breaking 20) and produce an equivalent cadre of leaders who would extend the prestige and power of the United States. Aydelotte’s primary contribution to higher education, then, was to modify the Oxford method of English instruction to make it workable in the very different climate of the American college and university. Because of his commitment to the personalized methods of British instruction, Aydelotte brought to the American college a progressive spirit of flexibility and individuality and, to use one of his favorite words, “thoroughness” that American higher education, according to historian Frederick Rudolph, at the time largely lacked. As Time noted in 1933, Oxford instilled “scholarliness” in the American Rhodes scholars like Aydelotte, and the Rhodes scholars, upon returning home, “spread scholarliness among their [American] fellows” and students (“Rhodesmen” 47).

The purpose of my study is to establish the critical role that Aydelotte’s work played in shaping the development of American education, English studies, and composition theory and instruction during the first half of the 20th century. His body of work should be better known than it is because this work sheds light on issues and problems that university and college English departments and writing programs continue to grapple with today. These issues include the relationship between literature and writing, the humanistic basis of technical communication, and the need to develop curriculums and programs that use writing to stimulate students, especially above-average students, to work to their full potential. As one of the important progressive educators during the first half of the 20th century, he changed the face of American English instruction in particular and higher education in general.

Historical Contexts


When Aydelotte began his college teaching career at IU in 1908, many American institutions of higher learning were nearing the end of an evolution from the small, often denominational college to the large, complex university (Adams History ch 1; Veysey ch 1). The old college, an institution only occasionally challenged before the Civil War, was typically a small, intimate, religious school that based its set curriculum on the classical languages, rhetoric, and mathematics with some attention to history, science, and moral philosophy. While restricted, this curriculum prepared an elite social group for a few gentlemanly professions, primarily the ministry, politics, and law. The college rejected a wider vocationalism in favor of liberal studies which produced gentlemen who had the right, the colleges assumed, to ascend to leadership positions in American democracy because of their class. In such positions, the elite, due to its cultured background, could control other elements of society, including “the twin excesses of grasping businessmen and unruly industrial proletarians” (Graff 21).
To prepare this elite, the old college emphasized discipline, both moral and mental (Russell 36). As a quasi-religious institution, the college inculcated its student body with the moral principles of its sect. Mental discipline was ensured by rigid instructional methods, the primary mode of which was recitation. Teachers required students to recite orally from memory the particulars of the textbook for the course. This process, the argument went, developed mental discipline, the assumption, based on faculty psychology, that the “mind and character are strengthened by strenuous, repetitive exercise on disagreeably difficult tasks” (Graff 30). In actuality, in the hands of a less than gifted teacher, the method privileged memorization of factual minutiae over the mastery of deeper knowledge. The goal of the college was not to educate broadly but narrowly–to form students into an educated elite sharing the same values and prescribed body of knowledge.

After the Civil War, the American public demanded that the traditional college expand its curriculum to reflect the changed realities of the second half of 19th-century America. As historian Frederick Rudolph put it, “the evidence abounded that Latin and Greek did not have much to do with the directions in which American society appeared to be headed” (Curriculum 57). The American college was now expected to serve a new clientele composed of students from middle class families. This group expected training for careers in the new worlds of business, industry, and government service (Berlin Writing 58; Veysey 4-5). These worlds were vastly different from the antebellum agricultural society based on rural and small town life. The new realities were structured by urban manufacturing, industrialization, and the science on which they were based. The Civil War had been won by the North’s industrial and technological superiority as well as its army (Earnest 138), a fact that might have been lost on the old college traditionalist but not on the public at large. The old college in reality was becoming irrelevant as other avenues to wealth and prestige opened (Russell 36), and many young men preferred a business career in the city to being a college-educated small-town lawyer or clergyman (Veysey 4-5). Practical people of the time, many of them financially successful men of the world who had not attended college, recognized that if the United States hoped to compete on the world stage, it needed to encourage the growth of new fields, especially science, technology, and agriculture. In order to flourish, these fields needed to be based on scientific research. To ensure the development of such research fields, powerful industrialists and manufacturers bequeathed fortunes to specific universities to create vocational curriculums for science, technology, and business. Such men included Ezra Cornell (Cornell University), J.S. Pillsbury (University of Michigan), and Johns Hopkins (Johns Hopkins University), to name but three. These gifts worked toward the same end as did the Morrill Act, which Abraham Lincoln signed in 1862. The act took effect gradually over the following decades and encouraged vocational and technical studies by donating public lands in states and territories to build land-grant universities required to teach agriculture and engineering. By 1900, because of these various changes, college students studied the liberal arts only during their first two years and then, during their last two, could specialize in various courses of studies such as engineering, agriculture, business, and the humanities (Adams History 1).

To create the new university, some of the more innovative American colleges turned to the German university for a new model of higher education, one based not on the old college’s dissemination of received wisdom but on specialized research and the development of new knowledge (Rudolph American College 274-75). While a handful of Americans had studied in German universities in the early years of the 19th century, by mid-century there was intense interest in those institutions, which many reformers saw as appropriate models for American education (Veysey 10). Unlike the American professor, who as a generalist could teach a variety of subjects, the German professor was a specialist in his field who lectured to his undergraduates in his area of expertise. Specialization led to a new division of labor, replacing the old college generalist with the new university specialist (Higham 3).

The rise of specialization therefore drastically changed the purpose and structure of the college and university. As John Higham argues, “the rampant growth of specialization,” with its emphasis on the development of specialized knowledge, changed the objective of 19th-century education (3-4). This new objective became to certify specialists to enter occupations that controlled esoteric information not available to the outsider. A college degree became the credential that admitted a graduate into a profession just as the lack of that credential excluded the non-initiated from it. In terms of college structure, the department became the unit that represented the specialized discipline, and each department was responsible for developing and teaching the disciplinary courses.

With the decline of the old curriculum also came a new emphasis on developing programs that met students’ differing interests, and this movement gave rise to the elective system championed by President William Charles Eliot of Harvard. Harvard’s system was based on a new view of educational psychology. The old principles of mental discipline were jettisoned for a new emphasis on “individual differences and the importance of the student’s pursuing his [or her] own natural talents” (Berlin Writing 60). Under Harvard’s pure elective system, fully in place by the end of the century and a model for other institutions, students had virtually no required courses and took whatever interested them or prepared them for employment. They graduated when they compiled enough credit hours, no matter what combinations of courses taken and passed. By 1900, the only required course at Harvard was English A, the first-year writing course. Because the elective system encouraged students to take a variety of courses, it helped establish the many new specialized courses and programs in science, technology, and other developing disciplines.

Throughout his career, Aydelotte questioned the value of intense specialization, and his curriculums attempted to mitigate some of the effects of this movement. At Oxford, he had experienced a system that combined in one integrated program several studies designed to prepare graduates for general careers. A specialist in English literature, for instance, would study not only literature but also English history and philosophy to learn how literature fits within these related intellectual contexts. Upon graduation, such students could teach in several fields. Aydelotte’s Oxford mentor, Professor Walter Raleigh, for instance, took his degree in history but taught and wrote on English literature. Understanding relationships among disciplines became for Aydelotte the sign of an educated person. He considered the elective system a failure because it emphasized discrete courses that did not encourage students to understand these course’s intellectual connections with other disciplines. In place of discrete courses, Aydelotte developed programs that combined studies. At MIT, for instance, he helped devise an English-History program that combined these two subjects in a series of courses to give engineering students a general understanding of literature within the contexts of broad historical movements such as the French and Industrial Revolutions. At Swarthmore, he used a similar model to develop his honors program that required juniors and seniors to read intensively in three related areas. During these two years, for instance, English majors took closely related seminars in English literature, history, and philosophy. Following the Oxford model, Aydelotte advocated the shift in American education from what he saw as the chaos of the elective system to the coherence of the Oxford approach.

The Swarthmore approach, however, was not without its problems, two of which stand out. First, honors students were limited in the range of courses they could take and therefore could not develop secondary interests by taking courses unconnected to their major and its cognate seminars. Swarthmore honors students, for instance, were allowed no electives during their last two years. The system did not encourage them to explore interests in unrelated disciplines, nor could they develop a minor outside their major and its cognates. The English major, for instance, who wished to take art history as a formal minor was out of luck. Second, the Aydelotte approach did not allow the depth of study that the elective system did. In the elective system, students could focus the majority of their course work on their major area and the rest of their work in other areas that interested them. At Swarthmore they were limited to a set program of seminars reminiscent in some ways of the limited curriculum of the 19th-century college.

But the advantage of Aydelotte’s approach is obvious. Through the set seminars and the comprehensive examinations that followed them, students learned directly to see the connections among related disciplines in ways that the elective system did not encourage.

Rhetoric and Composition

As the American college changed, so did its approach to rhetoric. In the old college, as Russell argues, speech was privileged over writing (38). Recitation itself was based on the spoken word, and students regularly prepared and gave public speeches, essays, debates, and forensics (40). Writing, however, was not completely ignored. Although spoken, many of these oral discourses were based on written versions, and these were often evaluated for written expression. With the rise of specialization, however, spoken discourse diminished in importance as the written discourse of the professions became the privileged means of academic communication. Every speciality developed its own professional organizations with journals to disseminate the written results of research, and part of a student’s education, especially on advanced levels, was to master the discourse conventions of a chosen field. The emphasis on written discourse was intensified with the development of graduate programs at schools such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard that required students to write theses and dissertations. As writing became important to advancement in an academic culture dominated by the printed word, more writing courses were initially required. Harvard, for instance, in the 1880s recognized that students needed more writing instruction and instituted four years of courses (Adams History [11-12]), but this emphasis did not last long and few other colleges followed suit. Ironically, despite writing’s growing importance to the academy and to the professions, by 1900, only the freshman English course was universally taught (Adams History 10-15), and it alone became the standard part of the college curriculum during much of the 20th century. Because of Harvard’s national influence, this lone course was often modeled on Harvard formalist rhetoric, which later became known as current-traditional rhetoric.
By the end of the 19th century, when Aydelotte entered IU as a student, formalist rhetoric had established itself as the dominant teaching rhetoric in the nation (Goggin 3). It grew out of the Harvard reforms of Eliot, who assumed the presidency in 1867. Eliot initiated influential curricular innovations, which included the displacement of the classical curriculum that had dominated the old college, and the expansion of courses in science and technology. These new courses were designed to prepare the new middle class students for careers. One subject that replaced classical studies was English composition, for Eliot believed that students needed to be able to speak and write in the vernacular to succeed in the worlds of business, science, and technology. Eliot therefore hired Adams Sherman Hill, a former journalist, to develop a writing curriculum appropriate to the new pragmatic, vocational goals of the university. To assist Hill, Eliot gradually hired other composition instructors, including Barrett Wendell, LeBaron Briggs, and C.T. Copeland, and these early English professors designed courses, published research, and/​or wrote textbooks that established formalist rhetoric as the standard approach to writing instruction in America up to about 1960.

By 1900 formalism had become almost universally established in textbooks and writing courses in America. Concern for discovering content had been replaced by a concern for conventional structure. As Adams Sherman Hill of Harvard put it in The Principles of Rhetoric (1878), rhetoric “does not undertake to furnish a person with something to say; but it does undertake to tell him how best to say that which he has provided himself” (65). This managerial stance pervaded the dominant approaches to rhetoric, reducing invention to outlining and applying conventional forms to essay writing (see Crowley Methodical). By excluding more sophisticated invention strategies from rhetoric, the Harvard formalists largely reduced composition to issues of form, style, and correctness. Students already had something to say, Hill and other late-century managerial rhetoricians assumed; these writers needed only advice on how to arrange that information and express it correctly and forcefully on paper.
Consequently, by the 1890s most composition textbooks offered students abstract rules for composing essays. Longer papers, for instance, were organized according to the modes of discourse–narration, description, exposition, and argumentation, although these terms varied slightly from text to text. Paragraphs, according to Scott and Denny’s popular Paragraph-Writing, were organized by the methods of exposition–definition, division, illustration, classification, and so on. In English Composition, Harvard’s Barrett Wendell offered the trinity of unity, coherence, and emphasis (he called the last mass) to guide student production of sentences, paragraphs, and essays. In The Principles of Rhetoric, Adams Sherman Hill reduced advice on diction and style to three principles: clearness, force, and ease (81-144). Finally, by century’s end, teachers drilled students with the niceties of mechanical correctness, which included spelling, usage, grammar, and syntax. As Connors notes in Composition-Rhetoric, an examination of graded papers of the period indicates the intense commitment of composition teachers to form: they limited their comments to mechanical issues and largely ignored rhetorical effectiveness and quality of thought. This approach was somewhat understandable, Connors notes, since these turn-of-the-century composition instructors often taught classes with 100 students and lacked time and energy to make more thoughtful comments.

It was not, of course, that students, especially the weaker ones, did not need advice on formal elements. Many who lacked experience with the written word required some instruction in form and correctness. The problem was that students received little else by way of instruction, a fact that came to disturb Aydelotte. He recognized that students needed more emphasis on content and thought, and developed the thought approach to place more emphasis on the cognitive elements of writing.

One of Aydelotte’s important contributions to composition theory and practice, then, was to serve as one of the few voices in the wilderness to question the wisdom of emphasizing only conventional form. First, he rejected the position that writing was a matter of following the modes of discourse. Few if any published essays, he argued in his book College English, follow a single mode. Instead, essays invariably reflect the habits of thought of the writer, Aydelotte argued. Some authors tend to think in narratives; others, in expositions. Furthermore, most essays mix the modes in complex ways. Consequently, teachers hamstring student thought by requiring them to follow slavishly modal patterns. Second, and more important, emphasis on conventional forms misleads beginning writers. All good writing begins with good thinking, Aydelotte assumed, and good thinking is always highly individualistic. The heart of the writing course, therefore, should be to help students think for themselves and then express that thought in prose that is both clear and personal. Aydelotte consistently rejected any approach that did not make thought and the expression of that thought the primary elements in the writing process.

Aydelotte’s pedagogy, however, had two major weakness. While the Oxford approach that formed the basis of the thought approach worked with well-prepared students like those highly selective and educated undergraduates admitted to Oxford, it did not work as well with students lacking rich experience with the written word. This refusal to recognize that less well prepared students needed work on formal concerns placed Aydelotte at odds with much of the conventional thinking of his time and, as I will discuss later, contributed to the political problems at Indiana University that led to his resignation.

The second weakness resulted from Aydelotte’s rejection of rhetoric. The thought approach assumed that good writing was good thinking written down. Consequently, rhetorical strategy–such as analyzing the audience, using formal invention strategies, studying stylistic devices and organizational strategies, and reviewing mechanics–received little direct attention in Aydelotte’s work. A product of his time without training in the history of rhetoric, he conceived of rhetoric in formalist terms and rejected it, privileging thought over strategy. But, at a time when so much writing instruction emphasized form alone, Aydelotte’s emphasis on thought was a much needed counter.

My Books

The Second Gun: A Novella
When PI Nick Stirling accepts the assignment from Leo Wolfe to find his daughter Hadley,a student at Central Georgia University who has disappeared, he didn't know what he was getting in to. As he searches for Hadley, he discovers that her estranged mother, Reb Fredrickson, had wanted her daughter to pledge her old sorority. When Reb came to Central to see Hadley, Nick learns, the mother told the daughter something that changed her life for the worse. When Reb is found shot to death in her mansion in Savannah, Nick has to determine who shot her. Was it Leo? Hadley? Hadley's druggie boyfriend Marky? Or was it someone else?

That Far Away Look
Published by Autumn Harbor Press, THAT FAR AWAY LOOK is a murder mystery set in Georgia. Nick Stirling, a private detective out of Atlanta, solves a kidnapping and two murders connected to Central Georgia Universty's basketball program.

Inventing Virginia: Sir Walter Raleigh and the Rhetoric of Colonization, 1584-1590
Released in early 2007, SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND THE RHETORIC OF COLONIZATION, 1584-1590, examines the reports associated with the failed attempts in the 1580s to establish and English colony in present-day North Carolina.

The book evaluates the rhetoric of four major reports, including those written by Arthur Barlowe, Ralph Lane, Thomas Hariot, and John White, and various illustrations of Native Americans and maps of the region contained in the de Bry edition of Hariot.

The book argues that a competition existed between Raleigh and Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Principall Secretary, on how to settle Virginia. Raleigh wanted to establish an agricultural colony while Walsingham wanted to establish a series of trading posts and find a route across North America to the Pacific Ocean and Cathay. This competition contributed to the failure of Raleigh's efforts that resulted in the famous Lost Colony of 1587.

The book is available from Peter Lang.

Frank Aydelotte and the Oxford Approach to English Studies in America, 1908-1940

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 American 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.

Classical Rhetorics and Rhetoricians
Edited by Michelle Ballif and Michael G. Moran, this volume contains introductory essays on all major and many minor figures in classical rhetoric.

Each essay begins with a brief biography of the figure followed by a detailed discussion of the figure's contributions to rhetorical theory and practice. Each entry ends with a bibliography of primary and secondary works.

The book contains an introductory essay and a closing bibliographical essay on classical rhetoric as a whole.

This book follows two other collections on the history of rhetoric: EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BRITISH AND AMERICAN RHETORICS AND RHETORICIANS (edited by Michael G. Moran) and TWENTIETH-CENTURY RHETORICS AND RHETORICIANS (edited by Michael G. Moran and Michelle Ballif). All three are published by Greenwood Press.

Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians
Edited with Michelle Ballif, this book collects essays on the major and many of the minor rhetoricians of the 20th century. Each essay begins with a brief biography of the figure followed by an analysis of his or her important works. The book also includes a critical introduction and a concluding bibliographical essays that collects the major research on the rhetorical theory of the area.

Eighteenth-Century British and American Rhetorics and Rhetoricians
This edited volume collects short and longer essays on the major and some minor rhetoricians of eighteenth-century Britain and America. Each essay begins with a brief biography of the figure that is followed by a critical analysis of major works. The essay is followed by a bibliography of the primary and secondary works. The book begins with a critical introduction to the major rhetorical schools of the period and ends with an extensive bibliography of the research on the period's rhetoric. Published by Greenwood Press.

Three Keys to the Past: The History of Technical Communication
Edited with Teresa Kynell Hunt, this book introduces scholars and students to the issues of doing historical research in professional communication. It begins with an introductory essay that outlines the various methodologies for that research and ends with an update of William Rivers' bibliography of the field. In between are essays that address various research issues using various research methodologies. Some essay are classic, well-known essays from the field while others are newly-written ones for the book.

Research in Technical Communication
Edited with Debra Journet and published by Greenwood Press in 1985, Research in Technical Communication represents the first attempt to define the emerging field of technical communication. The volume collects biliographic essays on a range of issues, including technical writing and the humanities, the history of technical writing, communication theory and technical writing, invention, audience analysis, organizational strategies, proposals, reports, business correspondence, computers and technical communication, oral presentations, legal writing, and government writing. It also includes several appendixes, including one on style manuals in the field.

Research in Composition and Rhetoric
Co-edited with Ronald F. Lunsford and published in 1984 by Greenwood Press, this volume collects bibliographical essays on composition theory and practise.

Research in Basic Writing
Co-edited with Martin Jacobi and published by Greenwood Press in 1990, this volume collects bibliographical essays on the theory and teaching of basic or developmental writing.

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.