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About Peter Elbow

Some of these texts are final versions I sent to the publisher--and thus lack some final copy editing from publishers and journals. I welcome comments about any of these essays. You can reach me at or via my website at

I have posted a few chapters my most recent book (2013) "Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing."

Summary blurb:
Peter Elbow is Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he directed the Writing Program.  He taught at M.I.T., Franconia College, Evergreen State College, and SUNY Stony Brook--where he also directed the Writing Program.

The theme of his career has been the democratization of writing.  He started with Writing Without Teachers (Oxford 1973).  His most recent book is Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing (Oxford 2012).  In this recent book he focuses on the relationships between speech and writing--exploring the linguistic and rhetorical features of informal spoken language that can improve even the most formal or careful writing.

He is author of Everyone Can Write: Essays Toward a Hopeful Theory of Writing and Teaching Writing (Oxford UP).  He’s also written Oppositions in Chaucer (Welseyan UP);  Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process (Oxford);  Embracing Contraries: Explorations of Learning and Teaching (Oxford);  What is English?  (MLA and NCTE).  He co-authored the textbooks, A Community of Writers and Being a Writer (McGraw-Hill).

He edited Landmark Essays on Voice and Writing (Erlbaum);  he co-edited Nothing Begins with N: New Explorations of Freewriting (Southern Illinois P) and Writing to Learn: Strategies for Assigning and Responding to Writing in the Disciplines (Jossey-Bass).  

Writing With Elbow (Utah State) is a collection of essays by other scholars devoted to his work.  In 1986 and 1994 he won awards for the best essay of the year in a prominent journal in his field.  The Conference on English Education gave him the James Britton award for his book, Everyone Can Write.  The National Council of Teachers of English gave him the James Squire Award “for his transforming influence and lasting intellectual contribution.”  


Present Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Curriculum Vitae

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Articles (35)