Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer / Edition 3

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When it was first published in 1989, Susan Miller’s Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer established a landmark pedagogical approach to composition based on the importance of the writer and the act of writing in the history of rhetoric. Widely used as an introduction to rhetoric and composition theory for graduate students, the volume was the first winner of the W. Ross Winterowd Award from JAC and is still one of the most frequently cited books in the field.

This first paperback edition includes a new introductory chapter in which Miller addresses changes in the field since the first edition, outlines new research, and surveys positions she no longer supports. A new foreword by Thomas P. Miller assesses the proven impact of Rescuing the Subject on the field of rhetoric and composition.

Situating modern composition theory in the historical context of rhetoric, Miller notes that throughout the eighteenth century, rhetoric referred to oral, not written, discourse. By contrast, her history of rhetoric contends oral and written discourse were related from the beginning. Taking a thematic rather than chronological approach, she shows how actual acts of writing comment on both rhetoric and composition.


Miller also asserts that contemporary composition study is the necessary cultural outcome of changing conditions for producing discourse, describing the history of rhetoric as the gradual and unstable relocation of discourse in conventions that only written language can create. She maintains teachers and historians of rhetoric must recognize that the contemporary writing they analyze and teach demands their attention to a “textual rhetoric” that allows theorizing the writer as always symbolically a student of situated meanings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Susan Miller has orchestrated a rich interplay of themes from discourses that needed, sooner or later, to come together if the field of composition—alive as it may be with ideological counterpoint—was not to die regardless from intellectual boredom . . . . [D]aring, inventive, and badly needed. What is really rescued here  . . . is the subject of composition studies.”JAC

“This book should stir great interest, perhaps even controversy, among all theorists of twentieth-century rhetoric because it aims to untangle the usually snarled threads of classical oral rhetoric and of modern written composition.”Choice

“Miller’s ability to range across historical traditions and to address contemporary issues through an analysis of the individual writer in the contemporary era provides for an intriguing and creative way of looking at the dimensions and implications of the composing process.”Freshman English News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809326006
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Edition description: 2nd Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 6.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Miller

Susan Miller is a professor of English at the University of Utah. She is the author of Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition, which received the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize from the MLA, the NCTE/CCCC Outstanding Book Award, and the W. Ross Winterowd Award, Assuming the Positions: Cultural Pedagogy and the Politics of Ordinary Writing, which received the NCTE/CCCC Outstanding Book Award and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, Writing: Process and Product; and four other textbooks. 


Susan Miller and her husband Bob enjoy sharing stories of rural life and collecting farming mementos. After some sixty-four combined years in the printing business, the Millers are focusing on writing and collecting. They reside in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
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Table of Contents

Foreword to the paperback edition
Introduction to the paperback edition
1 Contemporary configurations of writing : textual rhetoric 9
2 Historical configurations of writing : the space before the reader 53
3 Philosophy confronts writing : Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus 100
4 Writing confronts rhetoric : changing definitions 127
5 The educational result : rhetoric and composition 149
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