Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael Harker

Second Advisor

Ashley Holmes

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Lopez


In the 1980s and 1990s, current-traditional rhetoric (CTR) was a popular topic in rhetoric and composition scholarship as the field justified its move away from CTR in an attempt to offer more authentic and process-based forms of writing instruction. Since that time, however, scholarship on the topic has decreased, likely because scholarship has dismissed CTR as a viable composition pedagogy. Though CTR is no longer a popular topic in scholarship, it should still be addressed in scholarship because there are still writing instructors who utilize it to teach writing as a prescriptive, form-first endeavor that minimizes the role of audience and purpose.

This dissertation argues that CTR still exists, and as such, should receive more attention in composition scholarship. One of the reasons that CTR still exists is because the conditions that gave rise to it still exist, but most important here is that CTR still exists because it is perpetuated through textbooks, particularly the purported best-selling textbook of all time, the Hodges Harbrace Handbook. This dissertation traces the origins of the Hodges Harbrace Handbook as well as the history of John C. Hodges, the text’s initial author, as a means of illustrating the ways that a pedagogical theory, CTR, which has been dismissed in scholarship, continues to make its way into composition classrooms. This dissertation also discusses the problematic implications of the text’s continued use in college composition classrooms and proposes public pedagogy as one possible alternative to CTR because of its ability to reintroduce the components of writing that are removed in CTR.