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The Vocation of a Teacher

Rhetorical Occasions, 1967-1988

This critically acclaimed collection is both a passionate celebration of teaching as a vocation and an argument for rhetoric as the center of liberal education. While Booth provides an eloquent personal account of the pleasures of teaching, he also vigorously exposes the political and economic scandals that frustrate even the most dedicated educators.

"[Booth] is unusually adept at addressing a wide variety of audiences. From deep in the heart of this academic jungle, he shows a clear eye and a firm step."—Alison Friesinger Hill, New York Times Book Review

"A cause for celebration. . . . What an uncommon man is Wayne Booth. What an uncommon book he has provided for our reflection."—James Squire, Educational Leadership

"This book stands as a vigorous reminder of the traditional virtues of the scholar-teacher."—Brian Cox, Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

Part I - To Students and Teachers Under Siege
Introduction: The Occasions
1. To My Fellow Teacher/Scholars in the Modern Language Association
The Credo of an English Teacher (1982)
2. To Beleaguered Composition Teachers
Rhetoric and Reality; or, My Basics are More Basic Than Your Basics (1982)
3. To New Recruits to Teaching and Scholarship in the Humanities
The Scholar in Society (1981)
4. To Warring Factions in an Up-to-Date "English Department"
"You Worship God in Your Way, and I’ll Worship Him in His": On Some Current Discontents in the Graduate Study of "English" (1987)
5. To a Banquet-Roomful of Sinful Colleagues
The English Teacher’s Decalogue (1971)
Part II - To Our Various "Publics"
Introduction: The Occasions
6. To Those Who Do Not Teach English, But Who Believe That Something Called "English" Should be Taught
Mere Rhetoric, Rhetorology, and the Search for a Common Learning (1981)
7. To Our "Employers," Whose Fate Depends on Ours
An Arrogant Proposal—a New Use for the Dyshumanities (1976)
8. To the "Powers" of Journalism, Urging Them to Join Us as Fellow Educators
Why Don’t You Do It My Way? Or, A Stich in Time (1971)
Part III - To Assemblies of More or Less Restless Learners
Introduction: The Occasions
9. To About a Thousand Undergraduates, Gathered (Voluntarily!) To Take Part in a Three-Day Liberal Arts Conference
Who Killed Liberal Education? (1968)
10. To About Six Hundred Freshmen, in Orientation Week
What’s Supposed To Be Going On Here? (1970)
11. To a Few Score Undergraduates Who Responded to an Announcement of a Lecture on "Liberal Education"
Is There Any Knowledge That a Woman Must Have? (1980)
12. To Fourscore Graduate Students Training To Be Teachers
What Little I Think I Know about Teaching (1987)
Part IV - To Himself—and To Those He Tries to Teach
Introduction: The Occasion
13. A Teacher’s Journal, 1972-1988
I. The Rhetorical Problem: Whose Successes, Whose Failures?
II. Some Obstacles to Good Teaching
III. Ambiguous Successes, Unequivocal Rewards
IV. Who’s Next on Line?
Part V - Ceremonies
Introduction: The Occasions
14. Knowing in Ceremony
The Meaning of Dedication (1973)
15. M. H. Abrams (1982)
16. Richard P. McKeon, 1900-1985 (1985)
17. Ronald Crane, Scholar and Humanist, 1886-1967 (1967)
18. To Prize-winning Teachers
The Good Teacher as Threat (1977)
Epilogue: To All Who Care About the Survival of Institutions That Preserve Teaching and Learning
Introduction: The Occasion
19. The Idea of the University—as Seen by a Rhetorician (1987)

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