Before Mina Shaughnessy: Basic Writing at Yale, 1920-1960

Kelly Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines Yale's "Awkward Squad" of basic writers between 1920 and 1960. Using archival materials that illustrate the socioeconomic conditions of this early, "pre-Shaughnessy" site of remedial writing instruction, I argue for a re-definition of basic in composition studies using local, institutional values rather than generic standards of correctness applied uniformly to all colleges and universities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-45
Number of pages34
JournalCollege Composition and Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • basic writing
  • curricula
  • written composition
  • colleges
  • universities
  • college students
  • writing
  • history instruction
  • Ivy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Language and Linguistics


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