This examination of Moffett's contribution to a theory of school English concentrates on his understanding of rhetoric. It is suggested that the impetus for Teaching the Universe of Discourse is dialectical: he was running against currents in English teaching at the time that were literary and technical, as well as the specific practices of sentence combining and embedding. His introduction of rhetoric into debates about school English was a key move, as rhetoric had been seen by American contemporaries as related to higher education and public discourse (and drawing on classical models). Moffett's more generous notion of rhetoric as the ‘arts of discourse’ helped him chart a ‘larger rhetoric of behaviour’ and map out his curriculum and development model. It is a rhetoric that moves beyond the definition of the ‘art of persuasion’ to one based in drama, dialogue and dialectic.
- English teaching
- James Moffett