Barbara E. L’Eplattenier

Investigating institutional power: Women administrators during the Progressive Era, 1890-1920 (Gertrude Buck, Laura Wylie, New York)

Barbara E. L’Eplattenier

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1999; pp: 263
  • Advisor: Harkin, Patricia
  • Source: DAI-A 62/06, p. 2100, Dec 2001
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); History, United States (0337); Women’s Studies (0453); Education, History Of (0520); Biography (0304); Education, Administration (0514)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN: 0-493-28316-1
  • UMI Number: AAT 3017634

Abstract:

    This project explores how two women, Gertrude Buck and Laura Wylie, ran the Writing Program and English Department at Vassar College during the Progressive Era (1890–1920). This study focuses specifically on how these women negotiated and garnered fiscal and political power within their university and for their department; it presents the internal ideological, fiscal, and political arguments that Buck and Wylie developed in order to maintain and develop the Introductory Composition program. The national, local, and institutional contexts within which these women worked are also presented in order to understand the persuasive appeals. Over the course of 26 years, Wylie and Buck developed an English program that was equally strong and supportive of literature and writing; the department grew from six faculty members, one professor and five instructors, to a total of eighteen, with eleven professors and seven instructors. Their rhetorical strategies included, but were not limited to, continually relating their funding and staffing needs to the pedagogical demands of the students and reputation of the college; addressing and returning to issues over extended periods of time; and developing a strong presence within the university through the support of faculty, students, and alumnae. However, before Buck and Wylie can be placed within a national writing program administration context, more research needs to be done on how writing programs were administrated at schools other than single-sex, private colleges.