The Modern Language Association of America is awarding its 32nd Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize to English professor David Fleming for his book From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957–1974
, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Awarded for an outstanding work on language, culture, literature or literacy with strong application to the teaching of English, the prize will be presented Jan. 5 during the association’s annual convention in Boston.
The members of this year’s selection committee were Jennifer Holberg of Calvin College, Richard Miller of Rutgers University, and Catherine Prendergast of the University of Illinois. The committee’s citation for the winning book reads:
“David Fleming’s richly researched account, From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957–1974, brings to life the complex and conflicted history of curricular change at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, during the radical sixties. Drawing on departmental memos, faculty minutes, oral histories, and personal interviews, Fleming reconstructs the events leading up to the English department’s decision in 1968 to eliminate the university-wide writing requirement. Fleming offers both a prehistory of the culture wars and an outstanding example of institutional history. He helps us resee the role the university has played in times of social upheaval and provides us with a vision of what happens when educational reform is driven by the desire to cut costs. Far from a book about ‘back then,’ From Form to Meaning tells us where we are right now.”
A member of the faculty since 2006, Fleming teaches language, writing and argument, with a special interest in the role of rhetorical education in multicultural democracies. He has published articles on the history of rhetoric, argument theory and practice, writing in the disciplines and professions, and the history and pedagogy of first-year composition and is the author of City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. For more than 25 years, he has worked with young people on their writing in East Africa, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, at the high school, community college and university levels. He directed the Writing Program from 2007-11.