Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Chris Holcomb


I author a revisionary comparative history of British Academic Writing and American Composition studies. My core argument is that the Composition story has always, ultimately, been a Trans-Atlantic one. This project serves two key goals: 1) it offers a comprehensive history of UK writing education; while 2) simultaneously offering a revisionist US history that fights the claim that uniquely American exigencies led to a uniquely American education system that therefore has little to learn from other global Compositions. This project tracks the history of university level writing education in the UK from the 1200s to the modern day, and follows a series of historical Trans-Atlantic myths I dispel: the American exigencies of the 18th to early 20th centuries, the misconceptions surrounding both the 1966 Dartmouth Conference and its fallout, and the notion that contemporary British Composition is a non-existent field. The heart of this project lies in demonstrating how strong the education connections between the US and UK have always been, and, therefore, how important it is that they are allowed to continuously thrive: the world, as I say in my introduction, is becoming increasingly isolationist, and strong international ties have never been more important. This project is intended not as the final word on Trans-Atlanticism, but as a first entry in a series of increasingly internationalized historical projects: it is, ultimately, only by looking beyond our shores that we can remedy the problems at home.


© 2022, Gareth George Rees-White