David Bartholomae

  • Professor Emeritus

David Bartholomae joined the English Department in 1975 and retired in 2018. He was a Professor of English and the Charles Crow Chair. He received his PhD from Rutgers University in 1975. David passed away in 2023.

Read Richard E. Miller's thoughts on Dave's retirement, published in The Fifth Floor.

His primary research interests were in Composition, Literacy and Pedagogy, although his work engaged scholarship in Rhetoric and in American Literature/American Studies.

His most recent book was a collection of essays, Writing on the Margins: Essays on Composition and Teaching (Palgrave Macmillan, hardcover; Bedford/St Martins, soft cover, 2005). An early book (with Anthony Petrosky), Facts, Artifacts, Counterfacts: Reading and Writing in Theory and Practice (Heinemann, Boynton/Cook: 1986) was still in print and still part of the professional conversation on Basic Writing. With Jean Ferguson Carr, he was the editor of the prize-winning University of Pittsburgh Press Series, Composition, Literacy and Culture.

With Anthony Petrosky, he was the editor of The Teaching of Writing: The Eighty-fifth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (U of Chicago P, 1986) and the author of a series of influential textbooks, all with Bedford/St. Martins Press: Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers (10th edition, 2014), Resources for Teaching (with each edition of WOR), Ways of Reading: Words and Images (2003), and Reading the Lives of Others: History and Ethnography (1994).

He published a long list of chapters and articles; those most often taught and reprinted are: “Teaching On and Off the Tenure Track: Highlights from the ADE Survey of Staffing Patterns in English,” “What is Composition? And If You Know What That Is, Why Do We Teach It?,” “Inventing the University,” “Writing with Teachers” (an exchange with Peter Elbow), “The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American University,” “Freshman English, Composition, and CCCC,” and “The Study of Error.” Details can be found in his CV.

In 2014, he completed an on-line, illustrated history of the English Department. It is also available through the University Archives.

David published four essays in journals not necessarily on the shelves of colleagues in Composition, Rhetoric, Literacy, or Writing Studies. All, however, dealt with figures and issues central to these fields. The title is a good guide to the first. The second is an essay on writers and their productive use of written sources.  The third and fourth are essays in (and about) travel writing--one set in Ecuador, the other in Spain:

His newest book, Like What We Imagine: Writing and the University, was on the Fall 2021 list for the University of Pittsburgh Press.

You can see David with Mr. Rogers.


Composition: He designed and taught the full range of undergraduate courses, from Basic Writing to Advanced Composition: Prose Style.

Literature: Introduction to Critical Reading; American Literary Traditions; Senior Seminar; The Literature of the Outdoors; The Victorian Period.

Graduate: Teaching Seminar; Introduction to Composition Studies; Figuring Writing; Contemporary Rhetoric; Ordinary Language.

David's Books:

Book Cover of Facts Artifacts and Counterfacts Theory and Method for a Reading and Writing CourseBook Cover of Reading the Lives of Others A Sequence for WritersBook Cover of Writing on the Margins Essays on Composition and TeachingBook Cover of Ways of Reading Words and ImagesBook Cover of Ways of Reading an Anthology for Writers