Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date




Publication Title

Microhistories of Composition




[First Paragraph] In May 1979, Aviva Freedman and Ian Pringle hosted an international conference on "Learning to Write" at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, featuring a concentrated assemblage of eminent scholars as speakers and respondents. Those present sensed immediately that they were part of a momentous and historic event. Janet Emig, who delivered her famous "Tacit Tradition" speech at the conference, remembered it later as "the single most electric professional meeting I ever participated in" (Emig 1983, n.p.). Many delegates saw it as the rightful successor to the landmark Dartmouth Conference of 1966, and when Anthony Adams, the closing speaker, suggested it might even eclipse Dartmouth as the most important conference ever held on English education, "there was a general murmur of assent" (Oster 1979, 24).


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Original Publication Citation

Phelps, L. W. (2016). The 1979 Ottawa conference and Its inscriptions: Recovering a Canadian moment in American rhetoric and composition. In B. McComiskey (Ed.), Microhistories of Composition (pp. 58-89). Chicago, Illinois: Utah State University Press.