Dr. Gerald Graff is a founding adviser and consultant to Argument-Centered Education. Gerald Graff is one of his generation’s most influential commentators on education, not only as a historian and theorist, but also through his wide impact on the classroom practice of teachers. His 1987 book, Professing Literature: An Institutional History, which is widely regarded as a definitive work, helped launch Graff’s argument that schools and colleges should respond to curricular and disciplinary conflicts by ‘teaching the conflicts,’ incorporating debates, for example, about how literature, history, and the sciences should be studied in courses themselves.
Graff expounded his teach-the-conflicts argument most fully developed in Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education (1992). Most recently his basic writing textbook, ‘They Say/I Say’: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (2006), co-written with his wife Cathy Birkenstein, has set records for sales in colleges and high schools. Graff (and now Graff and Birkenstein) has given invited lectures and workshops at hundreds of schools and colleges.
In 2011 Graff was honored with the Francis Andrew March Award for ‘Distinguished Service to the Profession of English Studies’ by the MLA’s Associated Departments of English. In the words of the commendation:
Historian of the profession and of the profession’s arguments, influential
commentator and spirited critic of the educational practices that have
defined literature and composition classrooms, forceful advocate for the
profession in the public sphere—Gerald Graff stands as the profession’s
indomitable and indispensable Arguer-in-Chief. In his [writings], Graff
invites all parties—students, teachers, scholars, citizens—to gather where
the intellectual action is, to join the fray of arguments that connect
books to life and give studies in the humanities educational force….Graff
has taken our profession to task for the gap between academic culture and
the students and citizens of our nation….
Graff’s work has been the topic of three special sessions at MLA conferences and part of a special issue of the journal Pedagogy. Graff served as President of MLA in 2008.