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Dr. Bruce Maylath

Office: Minard 318E20
Phone: 231-7176

Joining the NDSU English Department as a professor in fall 2007, Bruce Maylath earned his degrees in English at Kalamazoo College (BA, 1980), Michigan State University (MA, 1987), and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1994). He also studied Norwegian language and literature at the University of Oslo, both as an undergraduate (1978) and graduate student (1980-81).  His interests range from Ibsen’s messages in naming characters to the continuing legacy of the Norman Conquest on writing assessment today to the effect of guided authoring and content management systems on the translation of technical documents.

Before coming to NDSU, Prof. Maylath began his teaching career at the high school level in Michigan, moved on to community colleges, and after graduate school joined the faculty at the University of Memphis. Moving back north, he helped found, in 2000, the University of Wisconsin—Stout’s Program in Technical Communication, serving as its initial director until July 2007. As vice-president, and later president, of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, he helped establish the CPTSC/ATTW Roundtable series in Europe, starting in London in 2000 and continuing in Milan in 2003 and Limerick in 2005, then moving to Montreal in 2008 and to Eschede, the Netherlands, in 2010.

His current research takes up translation issues in technical communication. His best-known book chapters appear in Carolyn Rude’s Technical Editing, 3rd & 4th eds., and Deborah S. Bosley’s Global Contexts: Case Studies in International Technical Communication. Books he has co-edited include Approaches to Teaching Non-Native English Speakers across the Curriculum (Jossey-Bass, 1997) and Language Awareness: A History and Implementations (Amsterdam University Press, 2000), and Revisiting the Past through Rhetorics of Memory and Amnesia (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010). Other publications appear in the Journal for Business and Technical CommunicationIEEE-Transactions on Professional Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, and numerous other journals and books.

Dr. Maylath's teaching philosophy has been shaped by many influences, among them Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Mina Shaughnessy's Errors and Expectations, Peter Elbow's Writing with Power, Ken Macrorie's Uptaught (assigned as part of his undergraduate secondary English teaching methods course), and perhaps most by his faculty advisor at Michigan State, Stephen Tchudi. With these sources in mind, some years ago he developed a method of teaching writing he dubbed the Publications Approach. In it, students form editorial boards, solicit articles from each other, review and then accept or reject the submissions, work with authors in editing the articles, and finally format and publish them in their own magazines, which they distribute (today in PDF) to the class by semester's end. Learning achieves a momentum of its own when learners are given the opportunity to create a tangible product. As Andrea Lunsford has noted, when teachers relinquish the role of editor to students, they gain the practice they need to become better writers and editors of their own texts. During the process of the Publication Approach, whose next-step pedagogy Parker Palmer would recognize, each communication between author and editors is drafted in the form of an e-mailed memorandum. This "workaday writing" (to use Tchudi's phrase), applied to the writing process of formal articles, has in Dr. Maylath's experience led to students' better understanding of how to assess the needs of their readers and meet these needs through a deliberate, negotiated process.

The same holds in Dr. Maylath's teaching of technical writing. With a combined focus on process and product with readers at the center, he has devised a method of teaching students how to write instructions for a North American audience, then prepare the text in English for translation. North American students then e-mail their texts to students studying translation in Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France, or Italy. These students then translate their American partners' instructions. As they do, they e-mail questions they have about ambiguous, confusing, or unclear passages to the technical students for clarification. Dr. Maylath has involved more than a dozen instructors and scores of classes on the two continents in a network now known as the Trans-Atlantic Project. All of the American instructors have reported that the greatest benefit to their writing students comes when readers dependent on the writers' texts identify ambiguities and raise questions for clarifications. The transaction between writer, text, and reader that Louise Rosenblatt described becomes palpable in these realistic scenarios.

Courses Taught:
ENGL-209 Introduction to Linguistics (fall semesters)
ENGL-321 Writing in the Technical Professions
ENGL-360 Grammatical Structures/English (spring semesters)
ENGL-452/652 History of the English Language (spring semesters in even-numbered years)
ENGL-453/653 Social and Regional Varieties of English (spring semesters in odd-numbered years)
ENGL-455/655 International Technical Writing (fall semesters in even-numbered years)

Bruce Maylath CV

Photo of Bruce Maylath

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Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:07:10 PM
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