Janet Emig

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The accomplishments of Janet Emig constitute perhaps the most influential contribution to the study of how humans compose discourse and how teachers should help them. Her background prepared her for her initial goal of becoming a medical doctor, but she was determined to study literature because of its enduring interest to her. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan, she was influenced by a teacher who emphasized the revision process in writing. Here, however, Janet Emig encountered sexism and was not accepted into the doctoral program. She proceeded to teach high school, and began experimenting with conferencing with students. Emig became involved in the National Council of Teachers of English, attended a Conference on College Composition and Communication convention, and was influenced by Priscilla Tyler, with whom she later studied. Emig then enrolled at Harvard and quickly took over the writing program when others involved left, but encountered difficulty in completing her dissertation due to lack of leadership. Emig taught and was denied tenure at both the University of Chicago and Lethbridge University in Canada, denials which appeared related to her gender and/or a lack of esteem for the study of composition. Finally, she moved to Rutgers, where she has remained. Seven themes emerge throughout her corpus of work: (1) an interest in pedagogy; (2) writing as process and the complexities of composing; (3) the developmental aspects of composing; (4) physiological aspects of composition; (5) the didactic functions of writing; (6) a constructivist philosophy of writing; and (7) the academic profession. [1]

Article Summaries

Emig, Janet "Writing as a Mode of Learning" full text

Additional Works/ Publications



Further Readings

"Writing to Learn"

Other Scholarly Views




  1. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED345278&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED345278
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