Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Malinda Snow

Second Advisor

Lynée Lewis Gaillet

Third Advisor

George Pullman


A controversial institution from its inception, American higher education in the past decade has come under fire from scholars, college administrators, business leaders, and the U.S. Department of Education. These parties charge that our colleges and universities are underpreparing students for their professional lives, particularly in the areas of critical thinking and writing. I present the case that teaching the plain style of writing, in the vein of Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” would improve both writing and thinking. I provide a sample plain-style pedagogy for first-year composition. I also examine a modern composition studies trend against plain style, and argue the motivations of this trend can be understood by looking at the history of rhetoric and prose.