Date of Graduation

Fall 2019


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Margaret Weaver


The connections between orality and writing date to the ancient rhetoricians and continue to influence the way we write and are written every day; however, overtly connecting the two in the composition classroom is often overlooked and often underutilized by modern composition teachers. What the ancient rhetoricians did, though, was directly opposed to what we do. They used writing to improve orality whereas I advocate the use of orality to improve writing. We need to help students understand that the writer and reader collaborate to make the performance. A typical session with me as tutor involves my reading aloud or performing the student’s essay. By helping our students become storytellers, we are helping them become performers, and in turn better writers. This thesis will trace how orality has informed literacy, and thus writing, from ancient Greece to present day, making connections to Havelock, Ong, Elbow, Writing Center theory and concluding with practical application in the classroom that can begin at the elementary level and carried on through the college composition classroom.


orality, literacy, freshman writing, composition theory, Walter Ong, writing center theory

Subject Categories

Other Rhetoric and Composition | Rhetoric


© B. Webster Freeman

Open Access