Theses Doctoral

James Moffett’s Search for Harmony: A Biography of One Reformer’s Evolution in English Education

Potts, Shannon Alice

James Moffett (1929-1996) is an American educator, theorist, author, and consultant whose work focused on the reform of English education, in particular writing instruction. The researcher of this dissertation contends that despite his tremendous influence on the field of English education, Moffett has not been properly given credit for his contributions. This has arisen as a result of the bifurcated path that his career took wherein he developed an interest not only in the reform of English education, but also in the reform of the educational system itself.

This biography traces Moffett’s contributions to the field of English education and considers how the story of his life impacted his professional work. This researcher looks back across James Moffett’s story—in his publications, professional writings, and personal life—to consider him as an integrated person and to wonder if a central driving force of his professional work can be defined.

This biography uses Hamilton’s concept of polychromatic portraiture to draw together knowledge from archival documents from The James Porter Moffett Papers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records at Columbia University, and archival documents hosted on ERIC, along with the published research on Moffett and his era in English education, as well as interviews from Moffett’s contemporaries, and biographical references from Moffett’s own life contained in his writing.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Blau, Sheridan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 12, 2024