Moving Beyond Academic Discourse: Composition Studies and the Public Sphere / Edition 3

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Moving student writing beyond academic discourse and into larger public spheres is a difficult task, but Christian R. Weisser’s study challenges composition instructors to do just that. This highly accessible book does what no other study has attempted to do: place the most current, cutting-edge theories and pedagogies in rhetoric and composition in their intellectual and historical contexts, while at the same time offering a unique, practical theory and pedagogy of public writing for use both inside and outside of the classroom.

By positing a theory of the public for composition studies, one which envisions the public sphere as a highly contested, historically textured, multilayered, and sometimes contradictory site, Weisser offers a new approach to the roles that compositionists might assume in their attempts to initiate progressive political and social change.

After first providing a historical context that situates composition’s recent interest in public writing, Weisser next examines recent theories in composition studies that consider writing an act of social engagement before outlining a more complex theory of the public based on the work of Jürgen Habermas. The resulting re-envisioning of the public sphere expands current conversations in rhetoric and composition concerning the public.

Weisser concludes with a holistic vision that places greater political and social import on addressing public issues and conversations in the composition classroom and that elucidates the role of the public intellectual as it relates specifically to compositionists in postmodern society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Weisser’s book is a model of clarity. . . . and his treatment of the issue of public writing is the most extensive I have read.”—Patricia Bizzell, College of the Holy Cross 
Weisser (English, U. of Hawaii, Hilo) addresses the issue of how to move writing instruction into the public sphere. Coverage includes the historical background, recent progressive theories in composition studies on writing as a site of political and social engagement, existing theoretical conversations and how they are understood within contemporary social and cultural theory<-->with a focus on the work of J<:u>rgen Habermas, the role of the intellectual in postmodern society, and the degree to which the material conditions of academic life allow for public intellectualism. For theorists, teachers, and writers at all levels. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809324163
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2002
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian R. Weisser is an assistant professor of English at the University of Hawaii (Hilo). He has edited and coauthored several books about writing, including Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Perspectives, Natural Discourse: Toward Ecocomposition,and Electronic Theses and Dissertations: A Sourcebook for Educators, Students, and Librarians.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Public Discourse and the Future of Composition Pedagogy
Preface: Public Writing in Context
1 The Growth of a Discipline: Student-Centered Approaches to Writing Instruction 1
2 Radical Approaches to Composition: The Writing Classroom as a Political and Public Sphere 24
3 Social Theory, Discourse, and the Public Sphere: New Perspectives on Civic Space 57
4 Rethinking Public Writing: Discourse, Civic Life, and Composition Studies 90
5 Activism in the Academy: The Compositionist as Public Intellectual 116
Works Cited 137
Index 143
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