Contents | Index | Previous | Next

Rhetoric and Composition Theory


Bartholomae, David. "Inventing the University." In When a Writer Can't Write. Ed. Mike Rose [240].

Students must learn to sound like experts when they write, and they thus adopt personae that seem to them authoritative and academic. The errors of inexperienced writers should be seen as the result of this effort to approximate and finally to control a complex and alien discourse. Students "extend themselves, by successive approximations, into the commonplaces, set phrases, rituals and gestures, habits of mind, tricks of persuasion, obligatory conclusions and necessary connections" that constitute knowledge in academic communities. Writer, audience, and subject are all located in discourses that exist outside the individual, and it requires an act of courage to penetrate such discourses and earn the right to speak in them.


Bartholomae, David. "Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow." CCC 46 (February 1995), 6271.

Academic writing—writing done in the shadow of others—is the real work of the academy and therefore the key term for teaching writing. To pretend otherwise is to withhold from students knowledge of the politics of discursive practice. Student writing is situated in a heavily populated textual space in an institution where power is unequally distributed. The image of a free space for expression, found in Peter Elbow's work, reflects a desire to be outside of history and culture, a desire for a common language, free of jargon and full of presence; a desire for an autonomous author and a democratic classroom. If we wish to help students become aware of the forces at work in producing knowledge, we need, rather, to invoke the reality of the classroom as a substation in the cultural network, not disguise it as a utopian space. Critical knowledge requires working with texts, understanding the possibilities beyond quotation, and not pretending that writing is purely one's own. Composition should not foster the genre of sentimental realism and pretend it is transcendent, but preside over critical writing, academic writing. See Elbow [174].


Bawarshi, Anis. "The Genre Function." College English 62.3 (2000): 33560.

Genre plays a role not only in the constitution of texts but also in the contexts; genres are the rhetorical environments within which situations and practices are recognized, enacted, and reproduced. Because genres constitute all communicative action, genre provides an alternative to Foucault's author-function, which cannot account for how all discourses function, only privileged ones. How do we recognize the situations within which we function? Through genres, which are rhetorically constitutive of our social actions. Genres function on conceptual, discursive, and ideological levels, and they carry with them social motives. For genre theorists in literary studies, literary genres constitute and regulate literary activities or literary textual relations rather than being seen as constituting social reality. Building from Bakhtin, genre theorists in several fields are beginning to synthesize how the genre function makes possible and meaningful many kinds of relations and identities. Halliday defines genre through register; however, genre has a more constitutive role, an integral part of genre as social semiotic, part of an activity system. Giddens's theory of structuration has much to offer genre studies, as an extended example of a medical history form makes clear. The genre function accounts for all discursive activities, not just those endowed with a certain literary value.


Bazerman, Charles. "What Written Knowledge Does: Three Examples of Academic Discourse." Philosophy of the Social Sciences 11 (September 1981): 36187. Rpt. in Bazerman, Shaping Written Knowledge. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

We can study the way written knowledge contributes to a discipline by analyzing how writers in different disciplines use specialized lexicons, citations, tacit knowledge, and personae. Examples from biochemistry, sociology of science, and literary criticism illustrate the ways in which discourse constitutes knowledge in each field.


Berlin, James A. "Poststructuralism, Cultural Studies, and the Composition Classroom." Rhetoric Review 11 (Fall 1992): 1633.

The postmodern critique of traditional liberal-humanist epistemology has been useful to social-epistemic rhetoricians. In place of the traditional view of the individual as a unified consciousness unencumbered by historical circumstances, postmodernism posits a subject shaped by history and conflicting discourses, making individual consciousness contradictory and mutable. In place of the view of language as a neutral device for conveying truth, postmodernism sees language as constructing reality and deriving its meaning from differences among the signs themselves. Postmodernism critiques master narratives of human experience as part of, not external to, experience, and locates their meanings in what they exclude. These views mesh with the social-epistemic treatment of the writer as a construct, the audience as an unstable repertoire of constructed selves, and language as the constructive medium—hence as the site of the struggle to define reality in one's best interests. All texts are thus ideological. In studying texts, rhetoric cannot accept claims of transcendence. The writing course, then, should study many ways of using language, emphasizing the need to negotiate among textual and contextual meanings. This approach fosters democratic values by enabling students to analyze claims made on them by competing discourses.


Berlin, James A. "Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class." CE 50 (September 1988): 47794.

Rhetoric has generally been seen as the arbiter of ideological claims, but rhetorical theories are themselves ideological constructs. Three rhetorics that have had significant influence in composition classrooms—cognitive psychology, expressionism, and the social-epistemic—have distinctive ideological bases. Cognitive psychology claims to be scientific and ideologically neutral. Moreover, it offers no critique of epistemology, the formation of values, or the arrangements of power. In this way, it accepts and therefore advances the current hegemonic political and social order. Its rationalization of the writing process is an extension of rationalized economic activity. Expressionism begins with a critique of oppressive social and political constraints, positing that writing is liberating for the individual. But its critical position is vitiated by the romantic and individualistic approach that fends off collective opposition to oppression. If individualism modulates into entrepreneurship, expressivism becomes a capitalist tool. The social-epistemic approach attempts to keep ideological analysis at its center, to recognize that the self, the community, and the material conditions of existence are in dialectical tension. In this view, rhetoric is the study of how knowledge comes into existence: it asks how the perception of reality is structured, how values are formed, and how change is constrained or enabled.

See: James A. Berlin, Rhetoric, Poetics, and Cultures: Refiguring English Studies [515].


Bernard-Donals, Michael, and Richard R. Glejzer, eds. Rhetoric in an Antifoundational World: Language, Culture, and Pedagogy. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1998.

The eighteen essays in this volume, some previously published, address antifoundationalism, the philosophical position that all standards of judgment are historically and culturally contingent, never universally applicable or value-free. This position has been regarded as enhancing the importance of rhetoric when rhetoric is seen as a process of helping people arrive at decisions in situations in which absolute standards or certain knowledge cannot be used. Three major essays connecting rhetoric and antifoundationalism are reprinted here: Stanley Fish, "Rhetoric"; Richard Rorty, "The Contingency of Language"; and Terry Eagleton, "A Short History of Rhetoric." Following are essays that address the extent to which language constructs people's understanding of reality, among them: Michael Hill, "Toward a 'Materialist' Rhetoric: Contingency, Constraint, and the Eighteenth-Century Crowd"; Linda Frost, "The Decentered Subject of Feminism: Postfeminism and Thelma and Louise"; and Patricia Roberts, "Habermas's Rational-Critical Sphere and the Problem of Criteria." Also, essays address new configurations of rhetoric in relation to antifoundationalism, including: Robert E. Smith III, "Hymes, Rorty, and the Social-Rhetorical Construction of Meaning," and Kurt Spellmeyer, "'Too Little Care': Language, Politics, and Embodiment in the Life-World." Finally, essays that address implications for teachers include Patricia Bizzell, "Beyond Antifoundationalism to Rhetorical Authority: Problems Defining 'Cultural Literacy,'" and James A. Berlin, "Composition Studies and Cultural Studies: Collapsing Boundaries."


Berthoff, Ann E. The Sense of Learning. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1990.

"The sense of learning" is an innate human ability to make sense of experience with the aid of signs. It is variously explored in the eleven essays in this volume, including: "Is Teaching Still Possible?" [152]; "Is Reading Still Possible?" [418]; "'Reading the World . . . Reading the Word': Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Knowing"; "Democratic Practice, Pragmatic Vistas: Louise Rosenblatt and the Reader's Response"; and "I. A. Richards and the Concept of Literacy." An epilogue imagines that "Ramus Meets Schleiermacher and They Go Off for a Triadic Lunch with Peirce; Vico Drops By."


Berthoff, Ann E. "Is Teaching Still Possible? Writing, Meaning, and Higher Order Reasoning." CE 46 (December 1984): 74355. Rpt. in Berthoff [151].

The human capacity for thinking about thinking is "the ground of hope in the enterprise of teaching reading and writing." A positivist view of language as a medium cannot account for meaning and leads to models of cognitive stages and composing processes that misapply psychology, overestimate empirical research, and rely on shaky analogies. Positivist research leads to teaching by exhortation and away from the consciousness of consciousness that allows us to make meaning. A pedagogy of knowing, on the other hand, works from the premise that language can both name (hypostatize) the world and allow us to reflect on it in discourse: to abstract and then to generalize. Teaching can develop this ability when it does not run aground on spurious developmental concepts. See also Berthoff [153, 287].


Berthoff, Ann E. The Making of Meaning: Metaphors, Models and Maxims for Writing Teachers. Upper Montclair, N.J.: Boynton/Cook, 1981.

Teachers should see composing as the active formation of understanding by the imagination, an act of sorting and selecting experiences according to our needs and purposes. To study composing is to study how we use language to interpret and know the world. In this collection of essays, Berthoff connects the theories of Richards [215], Vygotsky, and Tolstoy and the pedagogies of Paulo Freire [258], Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Jane Addams, and others. A useful book for teachers at all levels.


Bitzer, Lloyd F. "The Rhetorical Situation." Philosophy and Rhetoric 1 (Winter 1968): 114.

Rhetorical discourse is determined by its situation, which has three constituent elements: exigence, the complex of people, events, and objects that create a need that rhetorical discourse attempts to satisfy; audience, the people who, if persuaded, will act on the exigence; and constraints, the audience's beliefs, traditions, and interests and the rhetor's ethos, style, and logic, all of which bear on the persuasive power of the discourse. Some discourse, such as scientific and poetic discourse, is not rhetorical.


Bitzer, Lloyd F., and Edwin Black, eds. The Prospect of Rhetoric. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

Proceedings of the Wingspread Conference, at which leading figures from speech communication and English addressed common theoretical concerns about rhetoric. Fourteen essays include Richard McKeon, "The Uses of Rhetoric in a Technological Age: Architectonic Productive Arts"; Henry W. Johnstone, Jr., "Some Trends in Rhetorical Theory"; Wayne C. Booth, "The Scope of Rhetoric Today: A Polemical Excursion"; Chaim Perelman, "The New Rhetoric"; and Wayne E. Brockriede, "Trends in the Study of Rhetoric: Toward a Blending of Criticism and Science."


Bizzell, Patricia. Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

Bizzell traces the development of her thought about discourse communities, basic writers, and education for critical consciousness in this collection of eleven previously published and two new essays, with a lengthy introduction. Includes "The Ethos of Academic Discourse," "Thomas Kuhn, Scientism, and English Studies" [159], "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing" [157], "Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness: An Application of Paulo Freire," "What Happens When Basic Writers Come to College?" [443], "Composing Processes: An Overview," "Foundationalism and Anti-Foundationalism in Composition Studies" [443], "What Is a Discourse Community?" and "Beyond Anti-Foundationalism to Rhetorical Authority: Problems Defining 'Cultural Literacy.'"


Bizzell, Patricia. "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing." PRE/TEXT 3 (Fall 1982): 21343. Rpt. in Bizzell [157] and in Vitanza [222].

Composition research has proceeded along two theoretical lines:
inner-directed research that looks at the writer's cognitive processes, and outer-directed research that looks at the social context of language use. Inner-directed researchers look for innate processes and mental structures, but they regard these processes as teachable. Linda Flower and John Hayes, for example, claim to have described a set of thought processes that produce writing. They assert that the process followed by good writers should be taught to students. Their model separates thought ("planning") from writing ("translating") and fails to account for the writer's knowledge or sense of context. Outer-directed research examines the dialectical relationship between thought and language by describing the intentions, genres, communal expectations, and knowledge that shape language use. In the Flower and Hayes model, basic writers are cognitively deficient, whereas in the sociolinguistic model, they are simply alien to the community in which they are being judged. Inner-directed models seek scientific certainty, while outer-directed models examine political, ethical, and social dynamics. What we need to know about writing will emerge from the debate between these two camps.


Bizzell, Patricia. "Contact Zones and English Studies." CE 56 (February 1994): 16369.

Multiculturalism is stalled by the outdated national and chronological structure of English studies. Adding new materials to the old categories will not suffice. New categories like feminism continue to essentialize and separate. But the contact-zone notion conceptualized by Mary Louise Pratt provides a way of seeing how diverse literatures may come into productive dialogue with each other. A contact zone is an historical time and space in which a cultural struggle occurs. Instead of seeing literature as a monolingual exchange, the contact zone casts it as a negotiation among people with different languages attempting to represent themselves each to the others. America has always been a congeries of overlapping contact zones, and the growing diversity of our classrooms brings this out. Contact-zone categories release us from evaluating the literary goodness of a text: Instead, we look at the rhetorical effectiveness of a writer in dealing with the matter at hand. This approach reconnects literature with composition and rhetoric, not only through rhetorical criticism but also by casting student writing as contending in contact zones and engaging in the arts of cultural mediation.


Bizzell, Patricia. "Thomas Kuhn, Scientism, and English Studies." CE 40 (March 1979): 76471. Rpt. in Bizzell [156].

Kuhn's description of paradigms and paradigm shifts in the sciences has led to speculation about an impending paradigm shift in the field of composition. Presumably, this shift, based on empirical research, will put composition studies on a scientific basis. But such speculations betray a desire to escape into scientific "certainty" and fundamentally misread Kuhn's thesis that knowledge in all disciplines develops by a rhetorical process of debate. Thus, Kuhn teaches us to study the ways in which rhetoric constitutes knowledge. Cf. Bazerman [147].


Bloom, Lynn Z., Donald A. Daiker, and Edward M. White. Composition in the 21st Century: Crisis and Change. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1995.

Sixteen paired essays and a response to each pair, on issues that face the profession in this century. Originally papers presented at the Conference on Composition in the 21st Century, most offer challenges and warnings. Selections include: David Bartholomae, "What Is Composition and (if you know what that is) Why Do We Teach It?"; Sylvia Holladay, "Order Out of Chaos: Voices from the Community College"; Robert Connors, "The New Abolition Debate in Composition: A Short History"; Peter Elbow, "Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: A Utopian View"; Anne Ruggles Gere, "The Long Revolution in Composition"; John Trimbur, "Writing Instruction and the Politics of Professionalization"; Stephen North, "The Death of Paradigm Hope, the End of Paradigm Guilt, and the Future of (Research in) Composition"; James Berlin, "English Studies, Work, and Politics in the New Economy"; Shirley Brice Heath, "Work, Class, and Categories: Dilemmas in Identity"; Linda Flower, "Literate Action"; and Andrea Lunsford, "Intellectual Property in an Age of Information."


Booth, Wayne C. "The Rhetorical Stance." CCC 14 (October 1963): 13945. Rpt. in Young and Liu [295].

Good writing takes a "rhetorical stance," a conscious balance between subject, audience, and the writer's persona. Writing, as traditionally taught, overvalues the subject, fostering the "pedant's stance," which produces dry, obscure work. In reaction, some newer writing pedagogies have overvalued the audience-persona relationship, fostering the "entertainer's stance," which produces charming vacuities.

See: Doug Brent, Reading as Rhetorical Invention [288].


Brodkey, Linda. "Modernism and the Scene(s) of Writing." Writing Permitted in Designated Areas Only [163].

Scholars in English studies usually picture the scene of writing as "a solitary writer alone in a cold garret" working late at night by the light of one candle. This is a modernist image, akin to themes of alienation in modern art and atomism in modern science. The image presents the act of transcribing as a synecdoche for the entire composing process. The image removes all responsibility for what is written from the writer, since it does not suggest that there will be consequences when the text being written in the garret is read. The image also allows readers to treat the text as an autonomous entity, ignoring not only these consequences but also the text's provenance—the author's personality, cultural background, and historical circumstances. Thus the prevailing image of a writer becomes one of a person who is ignored, isolated, a victim or prisoner of writing. Also, this writer is always male—as can be inferred from the struggle chronicled in Virginia Woolf's work for women to find (a) room in which to write. Perhaps because they are aware of this struggle, Woolf and other women writers generally reject the modernist alienated victim position and take a more pragmatic view of the world and how to change it. Brodkey critiques the modernist imagery at length because she fears its influence on writing teachers, most of whom have much more professional training in modernist-influenced literary study than in composition. Ironically, too, if these teachers do know recent cognitive research on writing, they only see again the solitary writer—in this case, artificially isolated by the research situation. To effectively teach a richly collaborative and recursive writing process, teachers must experience their own writing this way, as well as encounter the composition research that explores writing's social contexts.


Brodkey, Linda. Writing Permitted in Designated Areas Only. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1996.

This volume collects seventeen of Brodkey's published and previously unpublished works on literacy, ethnography, cultural studies, and composition pedagogy, including "Modernism and the Scene(s) of Writing." [162], "On the Subjects of Class and Gender in 'The Literacy Letters'" [444], "On the Intersection of Feminism and Cultural Studies," and "Writing about Difference: 'Hard Cases' for Cultural Studies," coauthored with Richard Penticoff. Several essays discuss the innovative composition curriculum that Brodkey designed for the University of Texas and the controversy that engulfed it. A concluding section presents five essays by students in a graduate seminar of Brodkey's, demonstrating her pedagogy by way of its results. Brodkey provides introductions to the volume and to each of the four sections in which the pieces are organized.


Bruffee, Kenneth A. "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind.'" CE 46 (November 1984): 63552.

Psychologists contend that the ability to think is not innate but is developed socially. As children converse with those around them, they learn how to think in ways the community sanctions. Children internalize this conversation, which becomes reflective thought, and finally, when learning to write, externalize their thought in a social medium. Thus both thought and writing are transformations of oral conversation. William Perry, Stanley Fish, and Richard Rorty argue that knowledge, like thought, is socially generated and authorized. They describe a process of "conversation," spoken and written, which constitutes knowledge for participants in a discourse community. If students are to think and write according to academic standards, they must have opportunities for academic talk, as they have in collaborative learning—in a writing workshop, for example, with peer tutors. If students lack academic knowledge, teachers can structure collaborative tasks to generate this knowledge. Teachers should emphasize that academic discourse is not intended to stifle creativity: It is only one of many available discourses the student can choose. Mastery of any community's discourse, however, should be understood as acculturation, which may change the student profoundly. See also Olson [644].


Bullock, Richard, and John Trimbur. The Politics of Writing Instruction, Postsecondary. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1991.

Eighteen original essays (and a Foreword by Richard Ohmann) that develop a political critique of writing instruction and demonstrate the inseparability of teaching writing from social, cultural, and economic forces. Essays include James S. Slevin, "Depoliticizing and Politicizing Composition Studies"; James A. Berlin, "Rhetoric, Poetic, and Culture: Contested Boundaries in English Studies"; Susan Miller, "The Feminization of Composition"; Robert Connors, "Rhetoric in the Modern University: The Creation of an Underclass"; Bruce Herzberg, "Composition and the Politics of the Curriculum"; Elizabeth Flynn, "Composition Studies from a Feminist Perspective"; Richard Bullock, "Autonomy and Community in the Evaluation of Writing"; Robert Schwegler, "The Politics of Reading Student Papers"; Victor Villanueva, Jr., "Considerations of American Freireistas"; and John Trimbur, "Literacy and the Discourse of Crisis." Winner of the CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1993.


Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1945.

The "basic forms of thought . . . are exemplified in the attributing of motives." Thought and language are modes of action, and all action can be regarded as dramatic. The dramatistic method analyzes motives by dividing motivated action into a dramatic pentad: act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. Composition specialists have extracted Burke's pentad from this rich book of philosophy and literary criticism and have used it as a heuristic (see Comprone [290]). For Burke's comments on this use of the pentad, see "Questions and Answers About the Pentad," CCC 29 (December 1978): 33035.


Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1950.

The persuasive power of rhetoric lies in "identification": The persuader convinces the audience that they share traditions, experiences, and values, all embodied in their shared language. The use of identification for persuasion need not be deliberate, nor acquiescence to identification conscious, except for the desire to identify. Thus, rhetoric is an instrument of socialization, and all social interactions are rhetorical.


Cintron, Ralph. Angels' Town: Chero Ways, Gang Life, and Rhetorics of the Everyday. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.

An ethnography of a Latino community called Angelstown studies rhetorics of everyday life through the tekhne of making and the topos of order. A variety of scenarios and participants contribute to the theme of distinct semiotic systems and the tension of order versus disorder. First, maps and texts are used as practical tools that help to fix a place; in this case, the field site bordered by a railroad levee. A ward map of the town serves to reflect on the discourses of measurement—the city grid a synecdoche for social controls. Other dominant social controls occur in the form of paperwork and official documents: Mexican immigrants refer to arreglar sus papeles, to fix your papers, and Don Angel's false documents "parodied and manipulated bureaucratic discourse," allowing him to hide behind the representations. Similarly, Valerio's bedroom walls demonstrate the effort to create respect under conditions of little or no respect. The ideology and guiding ethos that circulate through Angelstown become embodied as felt truths, evidenced in part by the language of violence. Graffiti and the use of gang colors illustrate the possibilities for appropriating mainstream symbols and recontextualizing them into new meanings. Cintron reflects on writing as the making of an order, raises questions about the ordered worlds that texts give rise to, and critiques the making of ethnographic texts.


Clark, Gregory. Dialogue, Dialectic, and Conversation: A Social Perspective on the Function of Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1990.

Through collaborative textual exchange, readers and writers construct their collectivity, negotiating beliefs, values, and actions. Dialogue, as defined by Bakhtin and others, is the conscious cooperative exchange of discourse in this process of social construction. Dialectic, in both classical and modern definitions, is the process of constructing knowledge collaboratively. Conversation, as social science research confirms, is the actual experience of persuading and compromising through which dialogue and dialectic are enacted. Many disciplines today share and develop this perspective on the creation of knowledge in communities, suggesting that social life is essentially a rhetorical process. The social theory of discourse entails an ethics of reading that places the responsibility for a text's social force and function on its readers, whose criticism should be public. We should teach composition students to read and write as a democratic practice, as an exercise in public discourse that collaboratively constructs and sustains the community.


Clifford, John, and John Schilb, eds. Writing Theory and Critical Theory. New York: MLA, 1994.

Historiography, cultural studies, rhetoric, social construction, politics, discourse communities, social construction, narrative, postmodernism, and the move to theory itself—the dominant concerns of composition theory today—are analyzed and criticized in these essays. Fourteen essays comprise the three main sections of the book. Essays include Susan Miller, "Composition as a Cultural Artifact: Rethinking History as Theory"; James Slevin, "Reading and Writing in the Classroom and the Profession"; Kurt Spellmeyer, "On Conventions and Collaboration: The Open Road and the Iron Cage"; Suzanne Clark, "Rhetoric, Social Construction, and Gender: Is It Bad to Be Sentimental?"; Susan Wells, "The Doubleness of Writing and Permission to Lie"; Beth Daniell, "Theory, Theory Talk, and Composition"; Joseph Harris, "The Rhetoric of Theory"; Judith Summerfield, "Is There a Life in This Text? Reimagining Narrative"; Lester Faigley, "Street Fights over the Impossibility of Theory: A Report of a Seminar"; and Linda Brodkey, "Making a Federal Case out of Difference: The Politics of Pedagogy, Publicity, and Postponement." These are followed by three responses to Brodkey and a symposium, "Looking Backward and Forward," with Louise Rosenblatt, Robert Scholes, W. Ross Winterowd, Elizabeth Flynn, Sharon Crowley, and Victor Villanueva.


Corbett, Edward P. J., Nancy Myers, and Gary Tate. The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook. 4th ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000.

Thirty-six previously published essays (twenty-five of which appeared in the third edition) on immediate pedagogical concerns of writing teachers, divided into ten sections: Perspectives, Teachers, Students, Locations, Approaches, Assigning, Responding and Assessing, Composing and Revising, Audiences, and Styles. Essays include Richard Fulkerson, "Four Philosophies of Composition"; James Berlin, "Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories"; Peter Elbow, "Embracing Contraries in the Teaching Process"; Dan Morgan, "Ethical Issues Raised by Students' Personal Writing" [412]; Vivian Zamel, "Strangers in Academia: The Experiences of Faculty and ESL Students across the Curriculum" [547]; Gary Tate, "A Place for Literature in Freshman Composition" [424]; Hephzibah Roskelly, "The Risky Business of Group Work"; Sondra Perl, "Understanding Composing"; Nancy Sommers, "Between the Drafts"; Jeanne Fahnestock and Marie Secor, "Teaching Argument: A Theory of Types" [303]; Brooke Horvath, "The Components of Written Response: A Practical Synthesis of Current Views" [358]; Douglas Park, "The Meanings of 'Audience'" [313]; Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford, "Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked: The Role of Audience in Composition Theory and Pedagogy" [308]; Peter Elbow, "Closing My Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience" [309]; Richard Ohmann, "Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language" [340]; Winston Weathers, "Teaching Style: A Possible Anatomy" [341]; David Bartholomae, "The Study of Error" [441]; and Mike Rose, "Remedial Writing Courses: A Critique and a Proposal" [469].

See: William A. Covino and David Jolliffe, Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries [90].


Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.

The first-year composition requirement is motivated by institutional and disciplinary functions, leaving the course with no rhetorical purpose and questionable reasons for its persistence. As rhetorical education shifted toward the bourgeois project of self-improvement, civic virtue was replaced by a pedagogy of taste, signaling the end of rhetorical instruction and ushering in the study of literature and the belief that correctness constitutes character. Using literature to replace rhetoric in freshman English courses enabled the creation of English studies and made composition from its inception a service course, taught by those with low status. Various movements—basic skills, communication skills, process pedagogy—have not changed the policing mechanism of the first-year requirement or the focus on students' identities, and the staying power of the requirement results from composition specialists' middle-class affiliations and the reluctance to tamper with hard-won prestige. Marshaling historical and ideological evidence, Crowley argues that English departments have colonized composition and that writing in the university need not depend upon freshman English.


Dillon, George L. Constructing Texts. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1981.

Psycholinguists, deconstructionists, and reader-response critics agree that to read is to create meaning, not merely to decode what the text encodes. The reader is enabled to create meaning by prior knowledge of the conventions governing text formation in a given discourse community and of patterns of concepts, or schemata, familiar within the discourse community. Conventions and schemata are cognitive in function, but they are not cognitively determined according to fixed, innate rules: They change gradually as the community itself changes. Writing instruction should reflect this flexible definition of conventions and schemata rather than persist in treating writing as encoding information. Dillon criticizes Hirsch's Philosophy of Composition for such cognitive determinism.


Elbow, Peter. "Being a Writer vs. Being an Academic: A Conflict in Goals." CCC 46 (February 1995): 7283.

While it would be best if students could be comfortable in both the role of the writer and of the academic, freshman composition cannot aim at both. The role of the writer is preferable. Writing should be the predominant course activity, with reading secondary. Academics are chiefly readers and their courses privilege reading—input—over writing. Academic readers exercise control over the text by nullifying the author, while writers seek a reader who believes in them. Similarly, academics get to be readers of student texts and decide what they mean. Writers must be free to insist that readers cannot ignore intentions and searches for meaning; they must be free to ignore readers. Writing teachers who wish to foster the writer's role should primarily understand what writers are saying and only secondarily point out where that understanding is difficult to attain. The writing course need not situate writers in the ongoing intellectual conversation, but cannot pretend that no authorities have written on students' topics before. Students should see themselves at the center, not the periphery, of discourse. See Bartholomae [145].


Elbow, Peter. Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986.

Twelve essays trace Elbow's thinking since the late 1960s about the complexity—even messiness—of the learning process, the conflicts raised by assumptions about teaching and its goals, the authority of teachers, the mystifications of evaluating students, and the philosophical basis for embracing contraries through dialectical thinking. Includes "Cooking" (from Writing without Teachers [397]), "The Pedagogy of the Bamboozled" (on American attempts to use Freire [258]), "Trying to Teach While Thinking about the End" (on competency-based teaching), "Evaluating Students More Accurately," "The Value of Dialectic," and "Methodological Doubting and Believing." Also includes a bibliography of Elbow's works on writing and teaching.


Emig, Janet. The Web of Meaning: Essays on Writing, Teaching, Learning, and Thinking. Ed. Dixie Goswami and Maureen Butler. Upper Montclair, N.J.: Boynton/Cook, 1983.

Eleven selections trace the development of Emig's thought from 1963 to 1982, including Chapters 4, 6, and 7 from The Composing Processes of Twelfth Graders [228]; "Hand, Eye, Brain: Some 'Basics' in the Writing Process"; "Writing as a Mode of Learning" [291]; and "Non-Magical Thinking: Presenting Writing Developmentally in Schools." Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize winner.


Enos, Theresa, and Stuart C. Brown. Defining the New Rhetorics. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1993.

This collection of fifteen essays characterizes twentieth-century rhetoric as pluralistic. Essays include Richard Leo Enos, "Viewing the Dawns of Our Past Days Again: Classical Rhetoric as Reconstructive Literacy"; Carolyn Miller, "Rhetoric and Community: The Problem of the One and the Many"; S. Michael Halloran, "Further Thoughts on the End of Rhetoric"; Robert Scott, "Rhetoric Is Epistemic: What Difference Does That Make?"; James Berlin, "Poststructuralism, Semiotics, and Social-Epistemic Rhetoric: Convergence Agendas"; Christopher Burnham, "Expressive Rhetoric: A Source Study"; Linda Flower, "Cognitive Rhetoric: Inquiry into the Art of Inquiry"; and James Porter, "Developing a Postmodern Ethics of Rhetoric and Composition."


Enos, Theresa, and Stuart C. Brown. Professing the New Rhetorics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Blair Press, 1994.

Fourteen selections from major figures in the development of twentieth century rhetorical theories, followed by thirteen essays of "commentary and application" by scholars in composition and speech communication. Theorists represented are Ferdinand de Saussure, I. A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, Mikhail Bakhtin, Richard Weaver, Ernesto Grassi, Stephen Toulmin, Richard McKeon, Chaim Perelman, Michel Foucault, Michael Polanyi, JŸrgen Habermas, Roland Barthes, and Wayne Booth. Scholars are Donald Bryant; Richard Ohmann; Robert Scott; Douglas Ehninger; S. Michael Halloran; Terry Eagleton; E.D. Hirsch, Jr.; Walter Fisher; Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede; Jim Corder; Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo; Patricia Bizzell; and James Berlin.


Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

The postmodern era is characterized by randomness of experience, unopposed by any transcendent terms, a randomness that terrifies with the prospect of total dissolution while exhilarating with the possibility of free play of identities and social locations—that is, of subject positions. Composition pedagogy is often unresponsive to postmodernity, continuing to assume that unitary selves compose purposeful, linearly structured, generically recognizable texts. While this focus is often promoted by academic institutions as serving the practical ends of efficient communication, composition scholars increasingly resist it as oppressive to diverse students. A more postmodern composition study entails looking at how discourses, and the unequal power relations among them, are historically produced. Yet the field is still reluctant to abandon a unitary notion of students' subjectivities. The field needs the kind of destabilized, decentered view that characterizes the networked classroom, where online discussion allows free play with different personae and even "forbidden" discourses (e.g., homophobic, racist, sexist). The problem that remains is how to establish an ethics of engagement for social action against the oppressive economic and discursive structures that postmodern analysis purports to reveal. Winner of CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1994.


Farris, Christine, and Chris M. Anson, eds. Under Construction: Working at the Intersections of Composition Theory, Research, and Practice. Logan: Utah State Univ. Press, 1998.

The authors of eighteen chapters seek to complicate composition by reconsidering the relationship among theory, research, and practice Ñan issue that largely defines our discipline. Essays include Peter Vandenberg, "Composing Composition Studies: Scholarly Publication and the Practice of Discipline"; James Zebroski, "Toward a Theory of Theory for Composition Studies"; David Seitz, "Keeping Honest: Working-Class Students, Difference, and Rethinking the Critical Agenda in Composition"; Susan Peck MacDonald, "Voices of Research: Methodological Choices of a Disciplinary Community"; Yuet-Sum Chiang, "Insider/Outsider/Other?: Confronting the Centeredness of Race, Class, Color, and Ethnicity in Composition Research"; Ruth Ray and Ellen Barton, "Farther Afield: Rethinking the Contributions of Research"; and Gail Y. Okawa, "Coming (in)to Consciousness: One Asian American Teacher's Journey into Activist Teaching and Research."


Fishman, Stephen M., and Lucille McCarthy. John Dewey and the Challenge of Classroom Practice. New York: Teachers College Press, 1998.

A key theme in John Dewey's philosophy is to refuse either-or choices and to attempt to integrate dualisms. Dewey sees a person's growth as involving not only formal education, in which oppositions between student and curriculum must be reconciled, but also morality, requiring individual and group to be mutually dependent; art, where creativity and appreciation must balance; and day-to-day practice, in which action should induce reflection that conditions further action. In general, Dewey urges uncovering the conflicting forces at work in any problem and attempting to integrate them. Learning occurs when problems are engaged, which is why Dewey favors curricula that involve students in interesting problems and show them how to use academic knowledge to address these problems. Dewey emphasizes that emotional and moral engagement in problem-solving is essential to learning. Fishman details the nested dualisms underlying student-curriculum integration and how this integration should work to develop students' moral character. In the second half of the book, McCarthy reports on her research in Fishman's classroom where he experimented with Deweyan methods of collaborative learning. Deweyan approaches are especially needed now, Fishman and McCarthy argue, to replace destructive classroom competition with a new sense of community.


Foss, Sonja K., Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp. Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric. 3rd edition. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 2002.

The diversity of contemporary rhetoric and the continual expansion of rhetorical theory are demonstrated through the work of eleven rhetorical theorists, arranged by the breadth of their theories about rhetoric: I. A. Richards, Ernesto Grassi, Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Stephen Toulmin, Richard M. Weaver, Kenneth Burke, JŸrgen Habermas, bell hooks, Jean Baudrillard, and Michel Foucault. Following an introduction to rhetoric in Chapter One, each chapter features a theorist by presenting biographical information, an overview of their ideas, analysis of their contributions to rhetoric, and commentary on their theories. Extensive bibliographies complete each chapter.


Gallagher, Chris W. Radical Departures: Composition and Progressive Pedagogy. Urbana: NCTE, 2002.

Composition and Rhetoric is uniquely positioned to participate in a reclamation of pedagogical progressivism—if pedagogy is cast as shared knowledge-building rather than as the binary opposite of theory. Pedagogy, a form of collective action and reflexive inquiry, is necessarily a collaboration between teachers and learners. Two distinct groups of progressives—pedagogical and administrative—developed in the same years as the new NCTE. Administrative progressivism became more dominant, as evidenced by current educational reforms. A new strand of progressivism, now the mainstream discourse of critical pedagogy, has, ironically, drawn composition away from pedagogical progressivism; critical pedagogy positions students and teachers in disempowering ways. Placing pedagogy at the center of our work in the academy works against disciplinary and administrative constraints, both historical and contemporary. Rather than debating abolitionism, composition needs to rethink disciplinarity altogether, particularly replacing "service" with outreach. Six intraludes offer narrative representations of the issues.


Gere, Anne Ruggles. Into the Field. New York: MLA, 1993.

Twelve essays explore the connections between composition and other disciplines as forms of restructuring—the idea that interaction between fields is not simply borrowing but reconceptualizing, repositioning on disappearing, contested, or negotiated boundaries. Essays include Kurt Spellmeyer, "Being Philosophical about Composition: Hermeneutics and the Teaching of Writing"; Brenda Deen Schildgen, "Reconnecting Rhetoric and Philosophy in the Composition Class"; George Disson, "Argumentation and Critique: College Composition and Enlightenment Ideals"; James Berlin, "Composition Studies and Cultural Studies: Collapsing Boundaries"; John Trimbur, "Composition Studies: Postmodern or Popular"; Irene Papoulis, "Subjectivity and Its Role in 'Constructed' Knowledge: Composition, Feminist Theory, and Psychoanalysis"; and David Bleich, "Ethnography and the Study of Literacy: Prospects for Socially Generous Research."


Giroux, Henry A. Schooling and the Struggle for Public Life: Critical Pedagogy in the Modern Age. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1988.

The discourse of democracy and citizenship must be reclaimed by progressive educators to counteract the historical amnesia promoted by the New Right. A critical theory of citizenship reveals the ideological conflicts in American history, opposes chauvinism (especially in media images), and envisions a public philosophy that truly honors equality, liberty, and human life. Questions about the student's voice, literacy, and teacher authority are central to this project.


Hairston, Maxine. "Diversity, Ideology, and Teaching Writing." CCC 43 (May 1992): 17993. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate [171].

Making ideology and social goals the center of a writing course or program, as many theorists have advocated, threatens the low-risk, student-centered classroom in which writing is not about anything other than itself. The leftward political move is the result of critical theories in English departments trickling down to the freshman English floors below. Composition theorists who are part of English departments naturally seek approval from the power structure, which favors political theories. But writing classes should focus on student writing, and writing teachers are not qualified to teach complex issues such as racial discrimination and class or gender inequities. Moreover, no classroom should be the forum for the professor's political agenda. Students learn to write by writing about what they care about, not by conforming to a political position and stifling their creative impulses. A diverse student body writing about and sharing their own experiences will produce real cultural diversity. [Responses appear in CCC 42 (May 1993).]


Halasek, Kay. A Pedagogy of Possibility: Bakhtinian Perspectives on Composition Studies. Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1999.

The complexity of dialogue as Bakhtin characterizes it is often overlooked in composition practices. A dialogic paradigm serves as a model for a conversation among competing pedagogies, their points of contact and conflict. Recognizing the inherent dialogism within the word and among utterances demands that students and teachers enact the intertextual nature of discourse. Bakhtinian discourse theory reimagines the rhetorical situation as a site where centripetal and centrifugal discourses battle; the writer, audience, and subject must all be reimagined by analyzing the implications of metaphors for describing writing and writers and by characterizing both the audience and subject as co-authors and co-participants in the discourse—the subject as hero. Understanding essays as utterances rather than as organic wholes situates students in a process of ideological becoming. A pedagogy of possibility engages with critical literacy, authoritative and internally persuasive discourses, and, for example, the politics of reported speech. Halasek readily takes on all of the tensions between Bakhtinian theories and their application in the classroom and provides a model of scholarship that strives to maintain a dialogic balance between practice and theory. Winner of 2001 CCCC Outstanding Book Award.


Harkin, Patricia, and John Schilb, eds. Contending with Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age. New York: MLA, 1991.

"A collection of essays for college and university teachers of English who believe that the study of composition and rhetoric is not merely the service component of the English department, but also an inquiry into cultural values" (3). Twelve essays on the general theme of the discursive formation of knowledge contend with the many current attempts to formulate the aims of composition programs and courses: Don Bialostosky, "Liberal Education, Writing, and the Dialogic Self"; William A. Covino, "Magic, Literacy, and the National Enquirer"; John Clifford, "The Subject in Discourse"; Patricia Bizzell, "Marxist Ideas in Composition Studies"; Bruce Herzberg, "Michel Foucault's Rhetorical Theory"; Lynn Worsham, "Writing against Writing: The Predicament of Ecriture Feminine in Composition Studies"; Susan Jarratt, "Feminism and Composition: The Case for Conflict"; Patricia Harkin, "The Postdisciplinary Politics of Lore"; Victor Vitanza, "Three Countertheses: Or, A Critical In(ter)vention into Composition Theories and Pedagogies"; John Schilb, "Cultural Studies, Postmodernism, and Composition"; and two reflections on the collection itself by Sharon Crowley and James Sosnoski.


Harris, Joseph. A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1997.

The 1966 Dartmouth conference serves as a starting point for this account of the conflicts and tensions that continue to shape the teaching of writing. Five keywords—growth, voice, process, error, and community—have served to make composition an academic enterprise but not an intellectual endeavor. The process movement, for example, sacrifices content to method and asks teachers to be composing coaches rather than readers. Even seemingly revolutionary views of error completely ignore revision and position students as academics-in-training rather than as critics and intellectuals. Harris offers the keyword "public" as a counter to the metaphor of the contact zone and as an invitation to "wrangle" with the ways in which differences get negotiated.


Harris, Joseph. "The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing." CCC 40 (February 1989): 1122.

The concept of discourse community has helped reveal the ways that writers' intentions emerge not from within but through interaction with communal projects. The image of "community," notably, is entirely positive and unified. Thus, David Bartholomae [144, 371, 441] and Patricia Bizzell [157, 158, 159, 234] suggest that students must completely abandon other discourse communities in order to fully enter the academic community. The idea of community should instead acknowledge the normal presence of internal conflict and competing voices. Braddock Award winner.


Kastely, James L. Rethinking the Rhetorical Tradition: From Plato to Postmodernism. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1997.

Using language requires that one betray one's morality because it provides an inevitably partial view of the world—that is, both incomplete and biased, conditions under which morality cannot be consistently applied. Thus, using language inevitably implicates one in injustice: the most serious problem with language use, for the ancient Greeks. Rhetoric is designed to deal with this human condition, in which people must make decisions based on limited knowledge, which cannot be fair to everyone. Rhetoric's chief method for dealing with this condition is a kind of skepticism that requires one to doubt and question every assertion. By doubting—that is, by attempting to ensure that all possible views will be considered Ñrhetoric provides the best chance of arriving at admittedly provisional but collective agreements. This was Plato's view of rhetoric. But this function of rhetoric was destroyed by Aristotle when he schematized rhetoric so that it could make assertions. Postmodern theorists are either too concerned with the limitations on human knowledge or not concerned enough with the problem of injustice. Plato's view of rhetoric, then, is needed now more than ever, to restore public discourse. Kastely illustrates the evolution of these ideas through analyzing Plato, Greek tragedy, Jane Austen, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul de Man, Richard Rorty, and other thinkers.


Kent, Thomas. Paralogic Rhetoric: A Theory of Communicative Interaction. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1993.

Expressivism, cognitivism, and social constructionism all construe the mind and external reality as completely separate, with contact mediated by transcendent mental forms, cognitive processes, or discourse conventions, respectively. The mind is thus unable to get in touch with other minds—the mediating structure is always in the way. The mind is also unable to verify the structure it must use. Relativism is the inescapable conclusion of such views. Philosopher Donald Davidson suggests a better model of communication as a triangulated process in which two people compare their impressions of a shared sensory stimulus, each guessing what the other has in mind. To the extent that they are able to communicate, they may ascertain whether these guesses are correct. This process is paralogical, not logical, because it is not reducible to rules. It follows that the communication process cannot be taught as there are no rules to teach. Communication can only be practiced, collaboratively. Winner of CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1995.


Kent, Thomas, ed. Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1999.

Most post-process theorists assume that writing is public, interpretive, and situated. Thirteen chapters define post-process theory, its pedagogical ramifications, and its possibilities for reforming practices. Essays include Gary Olson, "Toward a Post-Process Composition: Abandoning the Rhetoric of Assertion"; Barbara Couture, "Modeling and Emulating: Rethinking Agency in the Writing Process"; Nancy Blyler, "Research in Professional Communication: A Post-Process Perspective"; David Russell, "Activity Theory and Process Approaches: Writing (Power) in School and Society" ; John Clifford and Elizabeth Ervin, "The Ethics of Process"; and John Schilb, "Reprocessing the Essay."


Kinneavy, James L. A Theory of Discourse. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. New York: Norton, 1980.

Discourse can be divided into four main types: reference, persuasive, literary, and expressive, each emphasizing a particular element in the exchange between writer and audience about the subject of the discourse. Reference discourse emphasizes the subject, which it presents with as little interference as possible from writer, reader, or language itself. In persuasive discourse, the aim is to move the reader, and the other elements—writer, subject, and language—are subordinated to that end. Literary discourse focuses on language itself: writer, reader, and subject are incidental. Expressive discourse emphasizes the writer, suiting subject and language to the writer's need for self-expression. A complex and influential work in the study of discourse. See also James L. Kinneavy, "The Basic Aims of Discourse," CCC 20 (December 1969): 297304. Rpt. in Corbett, Myers, and Tate [171].


Lunsford, Andrea A. "Toward a Mestiza Rhetoric: Gloria Anzaldœa on Composition and Postcoloniality." Journal of Advanced Composition 18.1 (1998): 127.

A mestiza lives in geographical and cultural borderlands and must learn to tolerate contradiction and ambiguity, to juggle cultures, and to imagine spaces not limited by dichotomies. For writing, this means using a rich variety of genres, languages, and registers, while also engaging in collaboration. In this interview, Anzaldœa discusses her earliest writings and drawings, her composing rituals, and issues that range from internal censorship to precolonial histories and activism. In addition to her poetry and children's books, one of Anzaldœa's current book projects is about composition and postcolonial issues of identity, based on the theme of compustura, or seaming together fragments to make a garment that represents oneself.


Lunsford, Andrea A., and Lisa S. Ede. "Classical Rhetoric, Modern Rhetoric, and Contemporary Discourse Studies." Written Communication 1 (January 1984): 78100.

Some proponents of the "new rhetoric" claim that in classical rhetoric humans are regarded as rational beings moved chiefly by logic but subject to the coercion of rhetors. Grimaldi shows, however, that for Aristotle, both inductive argument (by example) and deductive argument (by enthymeme) rely on all three appeals (logos, pathos, and ethos) in order to discover contingent truths. Thus, classical rhetoric is similar to modern rhetoric as a cross-disciplinary enterprise. But unlike modern rhetoric, classical rhetoric relied on oral language and searched for stable truths in the world.


Mailloux, Steven. Reception Histories: Rhetoric, Pragmatism, and American Cultural Politics. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1998.

Rhetoric is the study of how textual effects are produced and received. Thus, rhetoric has affinities with hermeneutics and is particularly helpful to interpretation in cross-cultural situations. This view of rhetoric is found in the work of the Greek Sophists, and its connection to contemporary pragmatism can be traced through the history of the Sophist Protagoras's reception by founding pragmatists William James, John Dewey, and F. C. S. Schiller. Mailloux illustrates his concept of "rhetorical hermeneutics" by analyzing three reception histories: Margaret Fuller's review of Frederick Douglass's Narrative; 1970s reader-response critics' readings of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; and the function of the metaphor of reading as eating in nineteenth century debates over adolescent education and juvenile delinquency. Mailloux concludes by calling for increased attention to rhetoric in English studies and by describing what happened when he attempted to persuade his colleagues to structure the major around his approach at Syracuse University.


Miller, Richard E. "Fault Lines in the Contact Zone." CE (April 1994): 389408.

How should teachers handle student work that attacks the institution of schooling or that expresses virulently prejudiced views? This question was posed dramatically by a student paper submitted to openly gay teacher Scott Lankford, which he first shared at an MLA workshop in 1991. The writer describes an evening out with drunken friends during which they harass gay men on the street and severely beat a homeless man. Should such a student writer be reported to the police or referred for psychological counseling? That response risks treating as fact an account that may be fictional. On the other hand, responding to the paper solely as a work of fiction and commenting only on its structural and stylistic features, as Lankford did, ignores content that the student may have meant to be provocative and thus silences this kind of resistance to the classroom agenda. A third approach might ask Lankford's student to write another version of the evening from the perspective of one of the victims, but this risks eliciting work that insincerely reproduces the teacher's views. Needed, instead, is a pedagogy that responds to the kinds of parodic, oppositional, and/or inflammatory texts that are likely to be produced in a course that emphasizes addressing cultural differences, as often recommended in work that builds on Mary Louise Pratt's concept of the "contact zone" [see 212]. Needed is a pedagogy that examines the cultural forces that produce papers like Lankford's, and that encourages students to evaluate a range of written responses to situations of cultural conflict, including some that may be hateful to the teacher or to some class members.


Miller, Susan. Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1989.

The story of instruction in language use must be liberated from the traditional major-texts approach. Premodern rhetoric cannot provide an adequate theoretical base for modern composition studies, first, because it focuses on oratory and neglects intertextuality, and second, because it focuses on officially sanctioned forms of language use and neglects adventitious and popular uses. We need a textual rhetoric that highlights intertextuality while avoiding the social and historical decontextualization of writing that besets contemporary literary studies. This approach includes a complex view of the writing subject that avoids both the naive classical definition of the rhetor as a "good man speaking well" and the postmodern reduction of the person to a discursive position.


Miller, Susan. Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1991.

Composition teachers submit to the continuing subordination of composition to literature and even unwittingly reinforce the perception of composition as a merely practical art without disciplinary status or intellectual rigor. Like other groups marginalized by race, gender, or class, composition teachers have created self-images of sacrifice and rebellion that actually maintain their inequality, reproduce the received history of composition's inferiority, and hide the institutional agendas that stigmatize it. To change the story told about composition requires a close examination of the connections between it and literature, a critique of received history, and an effort to "endow agency and dignity" on the protagonists of the story: students, teachers (like the "sad women in the basement"), and program administrators. Includes an appendix, "The Status of Composition: A Survey of How Its Professionals See It." Winner of the CCCC Outstanding Book Award for 1992.


Mountford, Roxanne. "On Gender and Rhetorical Space." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 31.1 (2001): 4171.

Rhetorical space becomes a useful concept if it accounts for the effect of physical spaces on a communicative event, including the cultural and material arrangement of space. The pulpit, an embodiment of clerical authority, is a gendered location so constructed as to make women's presence "metonymically problematic." Literary images of the pulpit have located women preachers in natural settings (meadows or front porches), where the sermons develop from the setting, and women preachers must continually reimagine the space of the traditional pulpit because, as architecture, pulpits participate in the "social imaginary" or the cultural dimension of space. Gender hierarchies, persistently associated with geography, emphasize that status in the social imaginary must be marked by geographical exclusions, sometimes resulting in symbolic trespasses upon sacred ground. Rhetorical spaces carry the residue of history and the physical representation of relationships and ideas; thus, the complex relationship of gender and rhetorical space in the art of preaching can be traced through the history of church architecture and its functions in producing meaning.


Neel, Jasper. Plato, Derrida, and Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1988.

Plato and Derrida launch much the same attack on writing, denying that the process of writing can generate transcendent truth. Plato argued that the rhetor must find truth by philosophical means before attempting to convey it and should convey it by speech rather than writing, because interlocutors cannot interrogate a text about its method. Derrida denies Plato's contentions that philosophy can attain transcendent truth and that dialogue gives access to the philosophical method. Instead, says Derrida, we have only the fictions constructed by writing, a web of texts accumulating over time, allusively linked. Derrida argues correctly that transcendent truth does not exist (or at least that such truth is unknowable), but he is mistaken when he concludes that no usable truth exists. There is sufficient truth to serve as a basis for decisions about social action in the "strong discourse" of Sophists—be they Isocrates and Gorgias or the leaders of modern democracies. The strong discourse of probabilistic rhetoric is not mere propaganda, as Plato argued, if only because such discourse tends to generate competing discourses that test its claims. Composition studies can work to free rhetoric from the strictures of philosophy so that it can fulfill its political mission.


Ohmann, Richard. English in America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1976.

The professional, institutional, and economic structures within which we teach severely constrain the efficacy of liberalizing curricular reforms. Universities continue to serve the needs of government and industry for efficient, docile communicators, while teachers resist acknowledging the political implications of their control of knowledge. This book includes a chapter by Wallace Douglas on English education in America in the 1800s, focusing on the influence of Channing of Harvard.


Olson, Gary A., ed. Philosophy, Rhetoric, Literary Criticism: (Inter)views. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1994.

Six interviews with scholars outside of composition—philosopher Donald Davidson, literary theorists Stanley Fish, bell hooks, J. Hillis Miller, and Jane Tompkins, and philosopher Stephen Toulmin—are each followed by two response essays by composition scholars. The responses explore the applications of "outside" theories to composition and sometimes react contentiously to them. Response essays are by Susan Wells, Reed Way Dasenbrock, Patricia Bizzell, John Trimbur, Joyce Irene Middleton, Tom Fox, Patricia Harkin, Jasper Neel, Susan Jarratt, Elizabeth Flynn, Arabella Lyon, and C. Jan Swearingen. Includes a foreword by Clifford Geertz, introduction by Patricia Bizzell, and commentary by David Bleich.


Olson, Gary A., ed. Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2002.

Rhetoric and composition is engaged in an ongoing disciplinary debate about whether it should be an intellectual as well as a service discipline. Organized in five parts (Disciplinary Concerns, Historical Inquiry, Ideological Inquiry, Philosophical Inquiry, and New Directions), nineteen chapters include Jasper Neel, "Reclaiming Our Theoretical Heritage: A Big Fish Tale"; Charles Bazerman, "The Case for Writing Studies as an Intellectual Discipline"; Susan Wells, "Claiming the Archive for Rhetoric and Composition"; Gary A. Olson, "Ideological Critique in Rhetoric and Composition"; Keith Gilyard, "Holdin It Down: Students' Right and the Struggle over Language Diversity"; Steven Mailloux, "From Segregated Schools to Dimpled Chads: Rhetorical Hermeneutics and the Suasive Work of Theory"; Victor J. Vitanza, "Seeing in Third Sophistic Ways"; Sharon Crowley, "Body Studies in Rhetoric and Composition"; John Trimbur, "Delivering the Message: Typography and the Materiality of Writing"; and Cynthia L. Selfe and Richard J. Selfe, "The Intellectual Work of Computers and Composition Studies."


Olson, Gary A., and Sidney I. Dobrin, eds. Composition Theory for the Postmodern Classroom. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1995.

Twenty-two essays originally published in the Journal of Advanced Composition [9], including James Kinneavy, "The Process of Writing: A Philosophical Base in Hermeneutics"; Jasper Neel, "Dichotomy, Consubstantiality, Technical Writing, Literary Theory: The Double Orthodox Curse"; Patricia Sullivan, "Writing in the Graduate Curriculum: Literary Criticism as Composition"; David Smit, "Some Difficulties with Collaborative Writing"; Thomas Fox, "Repositioning the Profession: Teaching Writing to African American Students"; W. Ross Winterowd, "Rediscovering the Essay"; Robert Wood, "The Dialectic Suppression of Feminist Thought in Radical Pedagogy"; Henry Giroux, "Paulo Freire and the Politics of Postcolonialism"; Joseph Harris, "The Other Reader"; John Trimbur, "Articulation Theory and the Problem of Determination: A Reading of Lives on the Boundary"; J. Hillis Miller, "Nietzsche in Basel: Writing Reading"; and Richard Coe, "Defining Rhetoric—and Us: A Meditation on Burke's Definitions."


Olson, Gary A., and Irene Gale, eds. (Inter)views: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Rhetoric and Literacy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1991.

Seven interviews with scholars outside of composition—Mary Field Belenky, Noam Chomsky, Jacques Derrida, Paulo Freire, Clifford Geertz, Richard Rorty, and Gayatri Spivak—each followed by two response essays by composition scholars. The responses explore and criticize the applications of their theories to composition. Response essays are by Elizabeth Flynn, Marilyn Cooper, James Sledd, Sharon Crowley, Jasper Neel, James Berlin, C. H. Knoblauch, Linda Brodkey, Kenneth Bruffee, and Thomas Kent. Includes a foreword by David Bleich and an afterword by Andrea Lunsford.


Owens, Derek. Resisting Writings (and the Boundaries of Composition). Dallas: Southern Methodist Univ. Press, 1994.

Composition courses that teach only academic discourse or the personal essay are ethnocentric. Rather, the introductory course should survey kinds of writing produced in different cultures, in feminist work, and in experimental writing inspired by electronic media in which fiction and nonfiction are often blurred. Upper-division courses could be devoted to each of these kinds. Additionally, academics should push for a wider variety of writing to be acceptable in all undergraduate and graduate courses and in scholarly publications. Only this way will American education's "process of rigid mechanization and self-effacement" be resisted creatively by students and teachers alike, with healthy results for social justice.


Perelman, Chaim. The Realm of Rhetoric. Trans. William Kluback. Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1982. Trans. of L'Empire Rhetorique. 1977.

A summary of The New Rhetoric [210].


Perelman, Chaim, and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca. The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation. Trans. John Wilkinson and Purcell Weaver. 1958. Rpt. Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1969. Excerpted in Bizzell and Herzberg [41].

Rhetoric is the art of gaining adherents to propositions that cannot be verified through calculations. All rhetorical discourse, then, is argumentation. Some arguments aim to convince only a particular audience, whereas others try to persuade all rational people—the imagined "universal audience." Arguments can be evaluated rationally and good reasons given for or against adherence to them, both for particular and for "universal" audiences. Such evaluations, though rational, are conditioned by the culture of the evaluator's discourse community—its traditions, language-using conventions, and beliefs. This book exhaustively catalogs the kinds of arguments that can be used in most Western discourse communities, with numerous examples from canonical works in philosophy, literature, history, and other fields. A seminal work in discourse theory.


Petraglia, Joseph, ed. Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995.

Should general-skills first-year writing programs be abolished? Most programs claim to inculcate a set of abilities that can be transferred to any other writing situation. The idea that such skills could be taught, however, flies in the face of much current research on writing. Yet the profession has ignored this contradiction and diverted scholarly attention to areas not directly relevant to the classroom. The thirteen essays included here address the "abolition" question: by looking at the history of attempts to abolish first-year general-skills courses (e.g., Robert Connors, "The New Abolitionism: Toward a Historical Background," and Maureen Daly Goggin, "The Disciplinary Instability of Composition"); by exploring the mismatches between pedagogical practices in such courses and current theories of composing (e.g., Joseph Petraglia, "Writing as an Unnatural Act," and Cheryl Geisler, "Writing and Learning at Cross Purposes in the Academy"); and by analyzing the theoretical inadequacies undergirding such courses (e.g., David Jolliffe, "Discourse, Interdis-cursivity, and Composition Instruction").


Pratt, Mary Louise. "Arts of the Contact Zone." Profession 91 (1991): 3340.

Contact zones are social spaces where cultures meet and clash, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical power relations, such as colonialism or its aftermath. In such situations we find examples of texts that subordinate groups produce to describe themselves to the dominant group and engage with representations others have made of them. Such texts selectively use the forms and idioms of the other group (a part of the process of transculturation) and may, as in the case of Inca Guaman Poma's Andean text addressed to the king of Spain, be a marginalized group's entry into literacy. Such texts seem chaotic unless read as expressions of those who live in a contact zone. The utopian image of a unified speech community with shared norms is challenged by such texts. What are we to do when the classroom community, another imagined utopia, is challenged by unsolicited oppositional discourse, as is happening more frequently? Multicultural curricula can and should create contact zones in which all interests are represented, where multiple cultural histories intersect, where there are ground rules for communication across lines of difference and hierarchy, and where there is a systematic approach to cultural mediation.


Ratcliffe, Krista. Anglo-American Feminist Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions: Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1996.

Because of different material and cultural circumstances, women relate to language differently from men. Because these circumstances have usually been oppressive, women need to find ways to liberate their potential for creative language use. Woolf is especially alert to how women's limiting material circumstances are conditioned by social class as well as gender. She advocates both borrowing freely from male traditions of language use, when these can be adapted for women's purposes, and creating new ways of using language that are expressly feminine. She looks for a "woman's sentence" in literature. Daly rejects completely patriarchal ways of using language. Even more aggressively than Woolf, she indicts traditional ways of using language as designed to silence women. She devises her own argumentative forms and polemically punning vocabulary to advance her radical theology and, more, the possibilities of a whole new women's culture. Rich struggles in her poetry to escape the stifling hand of the male tradition and to find ways of using language that speak to and for women's, and especially lesbians', experiences. She advocates a "politics of location" in which the literary artist attempts to account for the complexity of her material and cultural circumstances and to take a stand for social reform in the interests of white women and of people of color. Ratcliffe critically juxtaposes these writers' ideas about language with themes in traditional rhetorical theory, showing both resonances and redefinitions.


Reynolds, Nedra. "Composition's Imagined Geographies: The Politics of Space in the Frontier, City, and Cyberspace." College Composition and Communication 50 (1998): 1235.

A geographic study of composition asks us to confront many of our assumptions about place and space as they influence our conceptions of classrooms, those who occupy them, and ways to control textual space. Socially produced through discourse, the politics of space are often enacted through spatial metaphors and the most powerful of these metaphors tend to mask material conditions or deny material reality. Geographers and spatial theorists demonstrate the impact of time-space compression and transparent space. Both concepts are a result of changing conceptions of space in a late-capitalist economy and both are problematic. Three imagined geographies in the discourses of composition—the frontier, city, and cyberspace—have given composition vision and a sense of mission but also leave unexamined the consequences of the politics of space; in giving composition a sense of disciplinary identity, imagined geographies ignore worn urban classrooms or the increased workloads from electronic technologies. A spatial politics of writing instruction calls for a paradoxical sense of space, resists notions of transparent space, and examines the impact of time-space compression on composition's workers.


Richards, I. A. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1936. Excerpted in Bizzell and Herzberg [41].

All discourse allows multiple meanings, but most interpretations of discourse are based on cultural conventions and the widespread idea that words have single determinate meanings. Rhetoric is the study of the misunderstandings that arise from such interpretations. Rhetoric looks at the "context" of disputed passages—the surrounding text, which constrains the meaning of the passage. Because meaning is determined by context, usage must be based on appropriateness to context rather than on fixed standards. Rhetoric must rely on Coleridge's idea that all language is metaphor and that we understand the world through the resemblances offered by language. See also Berthoff [153].


Roskelly, Hephzibah, and Kate Ronald. Reason to Believe: Romanticism, Pragmatism, and the Teaching of Writing. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1998.

The "social turn" in composition and the influence of postmodern theory in literary studies have undercut teachers' belief in students' abilities to produce powerful language, without which belief teaching is hardly possible. Composition studies must recover "romantic/pragmatic rhetoric," rather than treating "romantic" and "pragmatic" as opposites. American romanticism, best exemplified in the work of Emerson, develops a sustaining vision of human possibility. American pragmatism applies romanticism to action in the world. C. S. Pierce, William James, and others encourage a pragmatic method that inquires into human experience by testing hypotheses, using as varied a range of inquirers and sites of inquiry as possible, and tending to show the relations between opposing ideas and to arrive at contingent truths. Major proponents of a pedagogy devised from romantic/pragmatic thinking are John Dewey and Paulo Freire. Roskelly and Ronald trace the development of romantic/pragmatic ideas from Puritan times, analyze how these ideas became occulted in current theory, and provide accounts of classrooms in which romantic/pragmatic pedagogy functions successfully.

See: Thomas Rosteck, ed., At the Intersection: Cultural Studies and Rhetorical Studies [520].


Schilb, John. Between the Lines: Relating Composition Theory and Literary Theory. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1996.

Literary theory defines rhetoric as irony, while composition theory defines rhetoric as persuasion. Theoretical differences were clear at two seminal conferences. The 1963 CCCC, site of the birth of modern composition studies, was marked by great interest in classical rhetoric, with its stable, unitary subject who could make rational choices about language use. In contrast, the 1966 Johns Hopkins conference, "The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man," introduced Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Lacan to American academics and featured a poststructuralist view of the subject as unstable, fragmented, and determined by texts. Composition studies remained firmly subordinate in English departments of the 1960s so as to protect the elite status of the cultural capital regulated by the literature faculty. Yet both composition studies and literary studies wrongly neglected to attempt to form politically active citizens. Postmodernism has debilitated both fields. Its epistemology can help students understand power relations but oversimplifies politics. Its artistic strategies are not adequate for civic action. Its global cultural trends may be studied usefully, but only if connected to students' everyday lives. Composition studies and literary studies have recently converged in their interest in personal writing, which helps students learn the way self-identities are constructed but which can degenerate into self-indulgence, as practiced, for example, by Jane Tompkins. The fields have also converged in their attention to collaboration, which literary studies should learn from composition studies to value. At the same time, composition studies needs to learn from literary studies to be suspicious of the ethical problems posed by collaboration. The fields have also converged in their questioning of the efficacy of theory, but as a critique of the work of Stanley Fish shows, theories that are tested by pedagogy, as those of composition studies are and those of literary studies should be, do not present the totalizing threats against which Fish inveighs.


Selzer, Jack, ed. Understanding Scientific Prose. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1993.

Thirteen essays analyze a single scientific essay, "The Spandrels of San Marco," by Stephen Jay Gould and R. C. Lewontin. Each analysis uses a different critical method in order to "domesticate new methods of practical criticism," to show their usefulness when applied to scientific discourse, and to reveal the complexities of scientific prose. Essays include Charles Bazerman, "Intertextual Self-Fashioning: Gould and Lewontin's Representations of the Literature"; Susan Wells, "'Spandrels,' Narration, and Modernity"; Carl G. Herndl, "Cultural Studies and Critical Science"; Mary Rosner and Georgia Rhoades, "Science, Gender, and 'The Spandrels of San Marco'"; Carolyn Miller and S. Michael Halloran, "Reading Darwin, Reading Nature; or, On the Ethos of Historical Science"; John Lyne, "Angels in the Architecture: A Burkean Inventional Perspective on 'Spandrels'"; Gay Gragson and Jack Selzer, "The Reader in the Text of 'The Spandrels of San Marco'"; Debra Journet, "Deconstructing 'The Spandrels of San Marco'"; Greg Myers, "Making Enemies: How Gould and Lewontin Criticize"; and Stephen Jay Gould, "Fulfilling the Spandrels of World and Mind." Includes the original article by Gould and Lewontin.


Selzer, Jack and Sharon Crowley, eds. Rhetorical Bodies. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

A product of the Fifteenth Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition in 1997, this book includes sixteen essays on material rhetoric or rhetoric's materiality. Chapters include Jack Selzer, "Habeas Corpus: An Introduction"; Carole Blair, "Contemporary U. S. Memorial Sites as Exemplars of Rhetoric's Materiality"; Karyn Hollis, "Material of Desire: Bodily Rhetoric in Working Women's Poetry at the Bryn Mawr Summer School, 19211938"; Peter Mortensen, "Figuring Illiteracy: Rustic Bodies and Unlettered Minds in Rural America"; Lester Faigley, "Material Literacy and Visual Design"; Christina Haas, "Materializing Public and Private: The Spatialization of Conceptual Categories in Discourses of Abortion"; J. Blake Scott, "Rhetoric and Technoscience: The Case of Confide"; Yameng Liu, "Dick Morris, Ideology, and Regulating the Flow of Rhetorical Resources"; Celeste Condit, "The Materiality of Coding: Rhetoric, Genetics, and the Matter of Life"; Sharon Crowley, "Afterword: The Material of Rhetoric."


Trimbur, John. "Composition and the Circulation of Writing." CCC 52.2 (December 2000): 188219.

College students' writing does not often circulate beyond "trade papers with a partner," yet the circulation of writing, the complex delivery systems through which writing circulates, should figure more prominently in writing instruction. Composition's tendency to figure classroom life as a middle-class family drama foreshortens the delivery system by linking production directly to consumption within the intimate space of the classroom/home. In addition, cultural studies' approaches to teaching writing, by their focus on critique and interpretation, also neglect other moments in the circulation of cultural forms and products while encoding and decoding restrict analysis to production and consumption. Marx's the Grundrisse offers a conceptual model that challenges a linear model of circulation by insisting that the use value of cultural products should not be separated from their exchange value. When exchange value and use value are united dialectially, as they are in Marx's notion of the commodity, we avoid the fallacy that by changing the manner of writing (the style) one can solve the problem of circulation. Delivery is inseparable from the circulation of writing and the widening diffusion of socially useful knowledge. Thus, assignments should problematize expertise from within the process of production and circulation, not erase the materiality of writing or isolate an education in writing from the means of production and delivery.


Villanueva, Victor, Jr., ed. Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997.

Forty-one previously published essays have been chosen to demonstrate generative debates over basic issues in the contemporary field of composition studies. Section One addresses the writing process and includes Janet Emig, "Writing as a Mode of Learning" [291]; Nancy Sommers, "Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers" [320]; Walter Ong, "The Writer's Audience Is Always a Fiction" [312]; and Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford, "Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked: The Role of Audience in Composition Theory and Pedagogy" [308]. Section Two proposes definitions of discourse and advice on its teaching, including James Kinneavy, "The Basic Aims of Discourse" [see 194]; Patrick Hartwell, "Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar" [333]; and Stephen P. Witte and Lester Faigley, "Coherence, Cohesion, and Writing Quality" [301]. Section Three presents work on developmental schemes and writing instruction, including Linda Flower and John R. Hayes, "A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing" [232] and Patricia Bizzell, "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing" [157]. Writing in society is addressed in Section Four, including Kenneth A. Bruffee, "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'" [164] and John Trimbur, "Consensus and Difference in Collaborative Learning" [402]. Section Five looks at controversies over voice, including David Bartholomae, "Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow" [145]; Peter Elbow, "Being a Writer vs. Being an Academic: A Conflict in Goals," [174]; Elizabeth A. Flynn, "Composing as a Woman" [491]; and Lisa D. Delpit, "The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children" [448]. Section Six looks briefly at developing issues, including James A. Berlin, "Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class" [149]; and Patricia Bizzell, "'Contact Zones' and English Studies" [156].


Vitanza, Victor, ed. PRE/TEXT: The First Decade. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1993.

Ten essays from the journal: Paul Kameen, "Rewording the Rhetoric of Composition"; Louise Wetherbee Phelps, "The Dance of Discourse"; Patricia Bizzell, "Cognition, Convention, and Certainty" [157]; S. Michael Halloran, "Rhetoric in the American College Curriculum" [96]; C. Jan Swearingen, "The Rhetor as Eiron"; William Covino, "Thomas De Quincey in a Revisionist Rhetoric"; Charles Bazerman, "The Writing of Scientific Non-Fiction"; Sharon Crowley, "Neo-Romanticism and the History of Rhetoric"; John Schilb, "The History of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of History"; and Susan Jarratt, "Toward a Holistic Historiography." Includes a history of the journal by Vitanza, a comment by James Berlin, and afterwords by David Bartholomae and Steven Mailloux.


Warnick, Barbara. "Rhetorical Criticism of Public Discourse on the Internet: Theoretical Implications." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 28 (Fall 1998): 7384.

Humanists have avoided analyzing computer-mediated communication (CMC), perhaps because it disrupts traditional notions of author and audience, all of whom may be anonymous, and text, which is destabilized by hypertext links. Nevertheless, cyberspace communicators are still trying to persuade, and rhetoricians can analyze their practices. Especially important will be to discern how these practices connect with moral judgments. Rhetorical criticism of hypertext can look for patterns among a large number of texts, whose boundaries are usually blurred. Rhetorical criticism of audience can look at how different groups are characterized or characterize themselves, policing their own online ethos. Ethical questions include whether
computer-simulated political activities affect participation in the real-world public sphere; whether CMC promotes hyperconformity and suppresses dissenting opinions, thus truncating deliberation; and whether access is improved the more technical expertise one claims to possess—often a form of sexist elitism.


Weaver, Richard M. "Language Is Sermonic." Dimensions of Rhetorical Scholarship. Ed. Robert E. Nebergall. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Dept. of Speech, 1963. 4964. Rpt. in Bizzell and Herzberg [41].

Rhetoric should be restored to its once prominent place in the curriculum, for it is "the most humanistic of the humanities," concerned with the intimate details of human feelings, needs, and historical pressures in its attempt to find ways to persuade people to right action. Rhetoric is therefore incompatible with science—the search for universals. To study rhetoric is to evaluate the force of appeals to action—an "existential, not hypothetical" concern. Finally, all speech is rhetorical—intended to persuade, never neutral—and all language is value-laden, a system for making predications and propositions: "We are all of us preachers."


Wells, Susan. "Rogue Cops and Health Care: What Do We Want from Public Writing?" CCC (October 1996): 32541.

The public sphere we want our students to enter is not unitary and must be constructed, as an analysis of Clinton's failed health-care initiative shows. A pre-established national forum where citizens make decisions face to face does not exist. Civic discursive spaces are local, ephemeral, and often crisis-driven. As Jürgen Habermas explains, public discourse comprises a shifting ensemble of practices into which individuals enter and try to make their private experiences intelligible. Access varies with individuals' different social locations. If we want to teach our students to write for this kind of public sphere, assignments that focus on a general topic, such as gun control, or a genre, such as a letter to the (imaginary) editor, are inadequate. Rather, the focus should be on the problem of constructing a public sphere. Students can be given practice negotiating the agreements that allow local public spheres to exist, concentrating on actions to be accomplished, not on the identities of the communicators. Wells suggests four strategies: focus classroom activities on cultural studies and thus make the classroom itself, at least potentially, a public sphere; analyze examples of public discourse, especially those that express resistance to the dominant culture; provide students with internships that require writing that enters a public sphere; and ask students to analyze and produce examples of academic writing that is intended for a public sphere rather than an expert audience.