LaRene Despain


In 1973, with my colleague, Suzanne Jacobs, I started The Writing Workshop, which I co-directed for six years, and which I have directed at intervals since, the latest of which is 2003-04. During that time, we also instituted the tutoring program in the Department, working in connection with College Opportunities Program and, in effect, started the graduate program in Composition and Rhetoric by reviving the course, "The Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition," which I teach regularly. In recent years, I have also created two seminars in composition: "The Politics of Teaching Composition," and "Writing Center Theory and Research." In 1986-88, while serving as Director of Composition, I expanded the tutorial program as part of English 101, our means of mainstreaming entering Freshmen who need extra help with writing. In connection with this, we instituted English 405, a tutorial training class, which I have taught several times. With Tom Hilgers, I conducted an evaluation of this program which resulted in an article in WPA. I have received two Fulbright grants, one to China in 1981-82 and one to Ghana in 1991-92. In both places, I taught the first American Literature course and the first Composition course in the two schools (The First Foreign Languages Institute in Beijing, and The University of Ghana at Legon). I wrote a composition text for the Institute, which became my textbook, Writing: A Workshop Approach, published by Mayfield Publishing Company in 1992. The second edition, which I am now preparing with a colleague, is under consideration at McGraw-Hill. Like many composition specialists of my generation, my original training was not in Composition and Rhetoric, but in 20th Century American Literature, specializing in the narrative of William Faulkner. I have thus also regularly taught an array of courses in this area. In 2003, I served on the University-wide committee which completely revised the Core requirements for Undergraduate students at the University of Hawaii.

Areas of Interest

theory and practice of teaching composition, American literature, 20th-century fiction


Board of Regents' Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1988 Fulbright Lectureship, China, 1981-82 Fulbright Lectureship, Ghana, 1991-92


BA, University of Chicago MA, Brigham Young University PhD, University of Connecticut