Category Archives: All Papers

This is the parent category for all of my submitted papers in ENGL 810 – Major Debates.

On Being a Rhetorical Narrative Theorist

On November 19, 2014, Ursula Le Guin said in her acceptance speech for the National Book Awards honor of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, “Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art” (“The 2014 Medalist”). These words validate the very study of all literatures because we must continue to hold up literature that challenges our culture beyond its lucrative market appeal and conveys artistry through the articulation of human experience, knowledge, history, culture, and imagination. In the view of this rhetorical narrative theorist, stories act upon us by cultivating language, by examining and critiquing history, by holding up our cultural values to literary scrutiny, and because, most significantly, they are a dialogue between the reader, the author, and the imagination. Rhetorical theorists focus on that relationship because it considers all the ways texts move us, and because an understanding of rhetorical choices by the implied author allows us to share our experiences with a broader audience of readers.

This is very meaningful to me, because of my own personal history. I grew up very poor, sometimes abjectly poor, in a small rural town in Vermont. I don’t remember why or how, but I gravitated to books. I ate up books and they captured my imagination in ways that no real world experience did. I remember our middle school librarian holding onto books for me, when she realized how much I read, and recommending this one or that one. I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn several dozen times. I related to that poor Brooklyn girl. I read Second Star from the Right, a book about anorexia, and understood the need for control (I was not and did not become anorectic) but was really fascinated by the idea that you have enough food to refuse to eat it. What a concept! Without books I surely wouldn’t be here, writing this paper for a doctoral-level course, but would likely have followed the trajectory of most of my family, which is both noble in its focus on survival and ignoble in that survival was really the only goal, not any different from most poor families. I would take any free books offered, and this is how I first read Homer, The Illiad and The Odyssey, when I was twelve. How magical they were, but I didn’t really understand them then. But I learned about gods and goddesses and war and lies and deceit. I learned that there was more. I learned that more wasn’t necessarily better. But I was just a child and it took me a long time to get here, a lot of deliberation of what I could really do as a scholar. I am afraid of being just a scholar.

As such, I see my role as a rhetorical narrative theorist as a researcher of affect, who enables broad categories of audiences to contemplate the affective experience of a work of literature, and to understand it from both a cultural sense of identity and from an individual sense of feeling and experience. This means encouraging a sense of readerly theory and to open discourses on the importance of stories, and their ability to affect rhetorical action, out beyond the halls of academia. As I note in my paper, “Stories that Move Us: Narrative Texts as Rhetorical Objects of Study,” this also means a consideration of “what texts in particular are the focus of rhetorical study, and why,” because genre certainly has been a limiting and exclusive domain of scholars, when we exclude work from outside our field and where lesser studied forms, such as popular literature like romance, science fiction, or fantasy, from the classroom or from literary theory. An example of how exclusive genre can be is discussed in PAB Post #7, as I explore Sarah Copland’s argument that short story theorists tend to exclude all other theoretical approaches because they argue that the short story form is so unique that other methodologies would somehow corrupt its interpretation and analysis. The short story form itself seems to suffer, by correlation, this narrow view of itself, as it is widely acknowledged in publishing markets that short story collections do not sell, especially not for little-known authors. There seems to be a wide chasm between scholarly interpretation and theory and lay audiences (even among the rhetorical theorists I’ve studied, who argue for readerly experience as valuable for narrative mean-making and yet rarely consider them in their research). It is perhaps here where I will find my niche.

Reading a book is much more than a form of escapism, though its value as a creator of worlds and means of communication between authors with a story to tell and reading communities who need stories is certainly important. But more than that, books create meaning, they provide cultural contexts, they imagine possibilities, they open paths to knowing something you wouldn’t otherwise know: science, math, space, love, pain, death, war, poverty…these things are knowable through narratives, the stories we tell. And as we study how they affect us, what intentions the implied author (which is the persona, or second self, that the real author affects as the writer/narrator of the story; the implied author makes the rhetorical choices of the character, the events, the action, progression, and judgments that act upon the reader, they are the teller talking to the told.). But can we trust these texts? Are they real knowledge? Or, as Dr. Heller asked in my interview with her: Do they shape culture, or are they shaped by culture? This is where narrative theorists come in. We analyze the impact of texts through various lenses (including formalist, cognitive, feminist, race/culture, postmodern and more), in an effort to understand their influence, the role of the author and how the author views the world (or mythologizes certain worlds, leaving out the bad and emphasizing the good – Shen). We might accept otherwise unacceptable ideas through literature (thinking of Nabokov’s Lolita) which seeks to investigate moral limits in relationship to real world ethics. Nabokov, as the narrator in his role as implied author, finds Humbert Humbert to be not just disingenuous, but genuinely convinced of the rightness of his relationship with Lolita. Nabokov was following the narrative of a true story, and, by fictionalizing it, was able to question the morality of the actors involved, test the motives of the implied author (as someone who has a story to tell and decides how it must be told), and consider the reaction of his audience, how to manipulate their experience without overt manipulation – a true art. Of course, it was widely rejected as smut, but did eventually find distribution. And why would we read this story, about an older man kidnapping, holding hostage, and raping an eleven-year old girl? Keeping her captive for two years and even maintaining a relationship with her, once she had run off with another older man? Today, this book tops many best books list. It is important as theorists to not just accept it as a piece of fictional material, but as a commentary on morals, on us, on our values, on the vagaries of life. Without thought and analysis, readers may only find the surface of such texts, and not the meaning, like my adolescent self. My interest, and how I see myself, is in bridging these experiences.

With stories, we are able to be genuinely empathetic to others when we can have no way of experiencing their worlds, such as in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Sethe’s choice (if it was a choice) to kill her daughter and the context and consequences of that act would have never been understood as a real event. Morrison rhetorically acts upon us as the implied author, who has designs on our emotions and provides us with the ability to understand a certain moment in time and a certain person’s view of that time, the impossibility of it and yet the reality of it. It becomes real even as it stands as fiction. It also becomes safe. It’s safe to address wrongs, to question things, and to critique ourselves, in fiction. It’s safe, through nonfiction, to remove ourself from our life (as Phelan examines in Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I analyze in PAB Post#8, or, “In Defense of the Implied Author, Intentionality: The Case of the Nonfiction Narrative.”) and examine it. And scholars examine that examination. A reader who affects judgment of Sethe, or Didion, does so through the subtle rhetorical movements of the author. Morrison’s implied author does not judge Sethe, but she sets us up to make up our own minds about Sethe’s story, guides us to certain ways of experiencing the possibilities.

Meredith Privott raised the idea of listening, and having good intentions, especially when you are seeking to penetrate a field of study that belongs to a certain community, in her case, an ethnic community with very embattled history and a very legitimate concern for its representation. In many ways, this is what all of us should remember as we enter our various fields: listening, having good intentions, and respecting that we are conduits that may contribute to how our objects of study are represented. We are not tourists, but purveyors of knowledge. We have to expect to be challenged and to be able to respect alternate positions, like we teach our own students. And in narrative theory, the debates rage as fiercely as they do throughout the academy. In English Studies, there is the sense that we are preserving our disciplinary elbow room, and to allow in other views threatens that space.

So who am I as a scholar, and where do I see myself fitting into the field of narrative theory? Well, in many ways I don’t see myself fitting in as much as figuring out my own space. I recognize that there are conventions of academia and scholarship, and I respect those while also feel frustrated by them. I respect the debates and am not sure at this moment how I will enter them, there are times when I feel that many of the debates seem pedantic, and yet, without debate there would be little progress, especially the question of author intentionality, which I see as still relevant (or at least, still a debate) and which I am interested in as I consider the position of the author/reader relationship. While at times I feel the debates can muddy the waters for those who are outside the academy, and lend credibility to those who are critical of our internal bickering. Necessarily though, debate leads us to consider new and critical ways of seeing, and had not largely New Criticism died out in the 60’s, we wouldn’t be stridently defending and appreciating (implied) author intentionality today.

Who is questioning our legitimacy more loudly than us? And here is where I see clear areas that need to move beyond debate and beyond suggestion and beyond theory, and into practice. To me, this means how we bridge the ivory tower and the real world. Why and to whom does it matter if Kate Chopin is mythologizing white antebellum southern culture as benevolent and gracious in her short story “Desiree’s Baby”? Why and to whom does it matter to the reader, to the student, to a little girl reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, that imagination and experience can be deliberate acts of storytelling? I, or we, understand through stories that life is unfair, that happy endings are more the realm of the imagined than the known, that there is beauty and magic that lives alongside pain and cruelty. This is where we learn ambiguity and complexity, and can embrace them. Here is where I want to be, as the person who studies and articulates the meaning of stories for the world, who investigates how stories – from ancient folklore, where meaning was truly made, to modern novels, where meaning is too often confined to literary criticism and sometimes the classroom (though one wonders how meaningful these texts are made for our students) – move us, make meaning, are critical to fostering imagination and progress in ways that science and technology could never do alone.

I’ve been thinking of proposing a course, which I mentioned in passing in class a week or so ago, called Investigating the Science in Science Fiction. I love sci-fi and steampunk literature, which has often existed in the literary margins, until perhaps the last decade. It is in the margins where I believe the bridge can be built. Many times the novel has been declared dead, most recently (to my knowledge) by author Will Self, in a lecture give on May 6 of this year at Gulbenkian theatre, St Cross Building, Oxford. He clarifies his obituary of the novel by explaining that “the serious novel will continue to be written and read, but it will be an art form on a par with easel painting or classical music: confined to a defined social and demographic group, requiring a degree of subsidy, a subject for historical scholarship rather than public discourse. The current resistance of a lot of the literate public to difficulty in the form is only a subconscious response to having a moribund message pushed at them” and by this he means that we have taken ourselves too seriously and made the form too fatal to enjoyment: we have lifted the novel and the art of storytelling beyond the simple pleasure it gives, the imaginative experience it could be, to be a form that must be analyzed and probed and understood and lauded in certain ways. This is why our students sigh at Shakespeare, balk at Hawthorne or Woolf or Joyce. This is why affect is critical, to bring literature back to life as something that is experienced, as something felt.


Thank you for reading.

I conclude with the words of Ursula Le Guin, who challenges the idea that literature must prove its legitimacy by this simple statement: “Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.” English studies, and the study of literary texts, offer us the chance to change the world. How stories bring change can be fostered by the work of scholars but I believe we must not forget that without considering readers, non-scholarly readers, our work is illegitimate. This chasm invites an opportunity for all of us, emerging scholars, to take up the challenge of meaning-making beyond academia. What might it take for a new generation of scholars, and I count myself, to revive the study of rhetoric, literature, English Studies, and all the humanities?


Works Cited:

Dalley, Julie. “Aristotle, Redux: Defending and Expanding Neo-Aristotelian Critical Theory.” 7 Oct. 2014. Web.

——–“Rhetorical Narrative Theory and Short Story Theory: Together At Last?” 28 Oct. 2014. Web.

——–“Rise and Fall, and Rise Again: Debating the “Social Turn” in Rhetoric and Composition Studies.” 30 Sept. 2014. Web.

——–“Stories That Move Us: Narrative Texts as Rhetorical Objects of Study.” 23 Oct. 2014. Web.

Le Guin, Ursula. “Acceptance Speech for the 2014 Medalist for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.” National Book Foundation. 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 2 Dec 2014.   <>

Phelan, James. “The Implied Author, Deficient Narration, and Nonfiction Narrative: Or, What’s Off-Kilter in The Year of Magical Thinking and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly?” Style 45.1 (Spring 2011): 119-137. Print.

Self, Will. “The Novel Is Dead (This Time It’s For Real).” Guardian UK. 2 May 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <>

Shen, Dan. “Neo-Aristotelian Rhetorical Narrative Study: Need for Integrating Style, Context, and Intertext. Style 45:4 (Winter 2011): 576-597. Print.Ursula Le Guin Acceptance Speech, November 19, 2014.

Leave a Comment

Filed under All Papers, Final Paper #9

Epistemology and Rhetorical Narrative Theory: Making it Fit

If the definition of rhetoric, at its most simple, is discourse that acts upon its audience in some way (and those ways may be under dispute)[1], then the study of rhetorical narrative theory necessarily involves analyzing narrative texts for the rhetorical effects they have upon their reading audience. What then, add validity and scope to this field, and, my question, what value does this have more broadly, beyond scholarly circles? Some scholars may see the value in rhetorical narrative theory in its ability to generate shared experiences of a text (Phelan), or its value may be understood to place narrative texts within the larger fields of cultural, historical, social, or political knowledge (Shen). Meretoja summarizes these divides between an epistemological understanding of texts, and their onotological value:

[T]heorists have been divided into those who conceive of narrative primarily as a cognitive instrument for imposing meaningful order onto human reality or experience (for example, Hayden White, Louis Mink, Daniel Dennett) and those who consider it to be primarily an ontological category that characterizes the human way of being in the world, that is, something constitutive of human existence. (89)

This then invites the major investigation of rhetoric theory: what is the relationship between the author and narrator (real, implied, reliable, unreliable) and the experience of the readerly audience, and what methods do we use to understand that relationship? How does a text act rhetorically upon its audience? If the implied author, sometimes in the voice of the narrator, has designs upon its audience, how can explicating those designs lead to deeper knowledge of the function of texts in our cultural and social worlds?

To answer these questions, it is necessary for the rhetorical scholar to be knowledgeable of the scope, validity, and methods within the field, however they might argue with each other. Though narrative theory and the rhetorical study of fictional narrative can have many epistemological factors that provide value and knowledge in our understanding of narrative texts, my own interests focus on the epistemological role of the narrator in narrative theory, and rhetorical narrative theory’s interest in the reliability of the narrator, how the narrator knows what she knows[2], and whether the role of the implied author creates critical knowledge in narrative study, or whether its debatable role distracts from more important foci that includes reader response and cultural truths/human experiences. And it may be that these philosophies need not be divided, and indeed many scholars have argued that methodological approaches should be integrated to form a unified field that allows us to “debate the similarities and differences, the commonalities and conflicts, among those methods” (Phelan, “Teaching Narrative” 218).

In attempting to bring together and place knowledge of narrative texts through a study of the debates, applied methodologies, and interpretive value generated by rhetorical narrative theory, I seek to really reveal how stories act upon readers through “the ways that authors use textual (and sometimes intertextual) phenomena to guide their audiences to respond to the communication in one way (or one set of ways) rather than another” (Phelan, “Cognitive Narratology” 310). But even that is not sufficient, as my interest is more deeply concerned with how these interpretations, whatever the methodologies, build knowledge of narrative texts beyond academia, into what Phelan describes as not just “the author’s private intentions but rather in his or her public, textualized intentions” and this “entails locating authorial agency in the implied rather than the actual author” (“The Implied Author, 127). As a pedagogy, this may bridge the academic realms of research and teaching, and allow deeper meaning-making of narrative and its role in our cultural, historical, and political contexts as what Meretoja terms the “complex interconnections between the ontological, epistemological, and ethical dimension of the relation between narrative and human existence” (90).

Debates are part of what generates epistemological value in the disciplines, but in some cases, it may be more valuable to recognize perspectives that may conflict with those reified through a specific critical lens.

Debates are part of what generates epistemological value in the disciplines, but in some cases, it may be more valuable to recognize perspectives that may conflict with those reified through a specific critical lens.

Finally, there remains the epistemology of interpretive methods and what objects of study can realize the author-audience dynamic of interpreting texts, and broader public interpretation of those same texts, or, framed as an academic question, can we experience texts in the same ways and how do those experiences build knowledge, values, and context in historical and modern culture? As we consider texts that range from fictional narrative, to the short story, to poems, and dramas, and nonfictional storytelling[3], we are really asking is if there are intentional actions put upon us as readers, in communication with the author. This casts into question the role of the real author, the implied author, the narrator (reliable or unreliable), the reader and the scholar, and are the major approaches concerned with methodizing our interpretation, both within the academy and beyond. Can a reconciliation of methods and theoretical approaches in rhetorical narrative theory “explain experience and organize knowledge” so that teaching and public discourse of texts addresses issues of cohesiveness and legitimacy in literary studies (Phelan, “Rhetorical Aesthetics,” 86)?


Works Cited:

Bitzer, Lloyd. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric, Vol. 1 (1968): 1-14. Print.

Booth, Wayne C. “How Many Rhetorics?” in The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication. Malden: Blackwell, 2004.

Covino, William A. and David A. Jolliffe. Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries. New York: Longman, 1995. Print.

Heinze, Rueddiger. “Violations of Mimetic Epistemology in First-Person Narrative Fiction.” Narrative 16.3 (October 2008): 279-97. Print.

Meretoja, Hanna. “Narrative and Human Existence: Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics.” New Literary History 45.1 (Winter 2014): 89-109. Print.

Phelan, James. “Cognitive Narratology, Rhetorical Narratology, and Interpretive

Disagreement: A Response to Alan Palmer’s Analysis of Enduring Love.” Style 43.3 (Fall 2009): 309-21. Print.

——–“The Implied Author, Deficient Narration, and Nonfiction Narrative:

Or, What’s Off-Kilter in The Year of Magical Thinking and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Style 45.1 (Spring 2011): 119-37. Print.

——–“Rhetorical Aesthetics and Other Issues in the Study of Literary Narrative.”

Narrative Inquiry 16.1 (2006): 85-93. Print.

——–“Teaching Narrative as Rhetoric: The Example of Time’s Arrow.” Pedagogy:

Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 10.1 (2009): 217-28. Print.

Zerweck, Bruno. “Historicizing Unreliable Narration: Unreliability and Cultural Discourse in Narrative Fiction.” Style 35.1 (Spring 2001): 151-78. Print.


[1] Wayne C. Booth explores the various definitions of rhetoric in his chapter “How Many Rhetorics?” and notes that Aristotle showed that “rhetoric has no specific territory or subject matter of its own, since it is found everywhere” (3). A thorough reading of the many definitions of rhetoric throughout time, premodern to postmodern philosophies, seems to bear up Aristotle’s premise, though Lloyd Bitzer’s definition may most fully give the scope of rhetoric as it acts within diverse domains in modern theory: “rhetoric is a mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but by the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action” (“The Rhetorical Situation,” 4). In addition, Covino and Jolliffe further define rhetoric as “primarily verbal, situationally contingent, epistemic art that is both philosophical and practical and gives rise to potentially active texts” but caution that within this domain there are certain limitations and ambiguities (“What is Rhetoric?” 5).

[2] See Ruediger Heinze’s article “Violations of Mimetic Epistemology in First-Person Narrative Fiction” for a comprehensive articulation of how narrators “know” the story they tell; this rather fascinating approach assumes that narrators of the first-person and the “knowledge they display is temporally, spatially, or cognitively” unknown to them. How, then, do we trust their narration? Phelan further argues that this unreliability is intention by the author, and thus creates a certain response by readers.

[3] See my two PAB Posts #7 and #8, which explores texts and their interpretation using rhetorical narrative theory and especially, authorial intention and narrator reliability.


1 Comment

Filed under All Papers, Paper #5

Rhetorical Narrative Theory: Methods and Debates

When researching rhetorical narrative theory, it seemed at first that most scholarship began with some sort of defense of its efficacy among critics. Narrative theory as a field involves generating knowledge and lending value to literary texts as they intermingle with culture, politics, ethics, and social systems. James Phelan defines the rhetorical methodological approach as,

[S]omebody telling somebody else on some occasion and for some purposes that something happened, and the definition seeks to account for narrative as having a textual dynamics (the telling of something that happened) and a readerly dynamics (the developing responses of the somebody who receives that telling). (“Rhetorical Aesthetics,” 88)

This definition includes the concepts of narrative progression and judgment, which are interested in the “synthesis of textual dynamics and readerly dynamics” because they “directly links textual and readerly dynamics: judgments are communicated by the telling but they are activities of a reader” (89), or as Sheldon Sacks asked, “Do we read the same books?” (qtd. In Phelan Experiencing, ix).


Aside from James Phelan and Dan Shen, few scholars seem to believe that methodologies can live side-by-side in the field.

Now, rhetorical narrative theory lies alongside a range of theoretical lenses[1] that can be applied to the study of literary texts, though its scholars seem to belong a rather narrow field within the broader discipline. Examining the application of rhetorical narrative theory includes not just understanding how it is applied to narrative texts, but also its finer points of study within the field as they continue to be debated, and so, most articles do begin by addressing criticisms. Dan Shen argues that the rhetorical approach “has been shedding significant light on the relation among the implied author, narrator, character, and audience” as it takes its place in narrative theory among other prominent approaches, including feminist, Marxist, formalist, and cognitive (576). And as a major critical theory, one of its most published scholars, James Phelan, argues that, “The rhetorical approach has no a priori commitments to such things as the nature of literary language or the relations between ideology and literature, history and literature, or politics and literature. Indeed, the approach’s only major initial commitment is to the idea that authors design texts as purposive communicative actions” (227). As an object of study within the field itself, the how’s and what’s that question its methods keeps the field fresh and the dialogue lively among its scholars.

The New Criticism, widely adopted throughout the mid-twentieth century, applied a rigorous objectivity to critical theory to literary texts (Yagelski, 300), and New Criticism scholars generally question the legitimacy of critical theory that moves outside “the text itself,” and the instead strive for generating meaning by a close reading of the language, style, and aesthetics of particular texts. Even those scholars who embrace the rhetorical approach to analyzing narrative engage in a vibrant debate of the role and relevancy of the “implied author,” defined as the “author’s second self,” or more fully, “the implied author’s image is one “implied by the text” for readers to infer, an image “the IA wanted them to find,”[2] (Shen “Neo-Aristotelian Criticism,” 583). Though there is much more complexity to the role of the implied author – such as its variable invocations and relationship to the real author, narrator reliability, even a debate about the historical-I of the real author, the narrated-I, the narrating-I, and the ideological-I and the role of the implied author,[3] and the complexity of the depth of analysis when applying rhetorical theory – the debate itself remains an active object of study among rhetorical narrative theorists. Finally, rhetorical narrative theory seems to be combating an ongoing deconstructionalist argument that “seeking to identify an implied author (indeed, the implied author^) of a literary work can surely only appear as a dubious endeavor to reduce the multiplicity of a text’s meanings to the totalizing unity of authorial intention” (Stefanescu 49). Deconstruction is mistrustful of rhetorical theory because it often includes the study of authorial intent, which has raised many criticisms about “intentional fallacy” and whether we can really know intention and whether authorial intention even matters to the reader. Dan Shen attempts to clear up what she terms “decades of misinterpretation” of who the implied author is by offering this definition and clarification: The difference between the “implied author” (second self) and the “real author” (first self) is the difference between the person assuming a certain air or a particular stance when writing the text and the same person in daily life out of the writing process. (“Implied” 142). She further argues that the real author and their historical, cultural, and political contexts, while not primary, enrich the rhetorical study of texts because they “do often exert influence on one’s stance in composing a fictional narrative” and Shen demonstrates this through three studies of a real authors whose historical, biographical, and socio-cultural contexts deepend our understanding of the texts (“Neo-Aristotelian,” 585).

Within rhetorical narrative theory rests the rising influence of affect: the readerly response to texts, the judgments and ethics we apply, and this concept also addresses the question of “Do we read the same books?” Dr. Dana Heller, Chairperson of the Department of English at Old Dominion University, agrees that the understanding the rhetorical effect of certain texts, “[W]ould be appropriate and I think it is appropriate.   But I think we need to look just as closely at the rhetorical effect of cultures on texts. This is a two-way street” (“Personal Interview”). Continuing, she points out the growing field of affect study across the disciplines, exemplified in such works as the omnibus reader The Affect Theory Reader (Duke U. Press 2010), which surveys the “enormous body of work” being performed in affective theory (Heller). Understanding how texts work on us as readers and how we can analyze texts by constructing critical approaches that include the concept that “an author…guides us to experience [the text] one way or another” underpins rhetorical narrative theory (Phelan Experiencing, x). As it is applied to texts of any genre, it addresses the question: can we experience, or read, the same texts the same way?

Approaching literature as a point of study for its rhetorical effect allows scholars to be liberated from strictly genre, language, or historical study, and instead blend narrative literature through its affect over time, in its historical period, and for its place among other texts that resonated emotionally in culture. Studying both the texts under scrutiny for its affective nature and the debates within the field of rhetorical theory as they are waged, allows the rhetoric scholar a very broad field of study as well as the opportunity to participate in relevant and important dialogue in critical theory.


Works Cited

Copland, Sarah. “To Be Continued: The Story of Short Story Theory and Other Narrative Theory.” Narrative 22.1 (Jan.

2014): 132-149. Print.

Heller, Dana. “Personal Interview.” October 3 & 14, 2014. Email.

Phelan, James. Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative. Columbus: Ohio

State University Press, 2007. Print.

——– “The Implied Author, Deficient Narration, and Nonfiction Narrative: Or, What’s Off-Kilter in The Year of Magical Thinking and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly?” Style 45.1 (Spring 2011): 119-137. Print.

Shen, Dan. “Neo-Aristotelian Rhetorical Narrative Study: Need for Integrating Style, Context, and Intertext.” Style 45.4

(Winter 2011): 576-597. Print.

——–“Implied Author, Authorial Audience, and Context: Form and History in Neo-Aristotelian Rhetorical Theory.” Narrative 21.2 (May 2013): 140-158. Print.

Stefanescu, Maria. “Revisiting the Implied Author Yet Again: Why (Still) Bother? Style 45.1 (Spring 2011): 48-66. Print.

Yagelski, Robert P. “English Education.” English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s). Ed. Bruce McComisky.

Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. 275-319. Print.

[1] James Phelan notes in his essay “Rhetorical Aesthetics and Other Issues in the Study of Literary Narrative” that these approaches include: formalist, feminist, cognitive, rhetorical, psychoanalytic, Marxist, and others (86). He also discusses the interplay between these approaches and the issues now current in the field of literary narrative: nonmimetic narrative; digital narrative; the fact/fiction distinction; narrative space; and rhetorical aesthetics (86).

[2] See Dan Shen’s article “Neo-Aristotelian Criticism” for a fuller discussion and definition of the “implied author.” See also Wayne C. Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (U. of Chicago Press 1983) and James Phelan’s Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative (Ohio State Press 2007).

[3] These are the four autobiographical “I’s” as defined by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson in Reading Autobiography (2001).


Filed under All Papers, Paper #4, Uncategorized

Stories that Move Us: Narrative Texts as Rhetorical Objects of Study

Rhetoric may consider any sort of communication as a legitimate area of study: novels and short stories of every genre, communications that encompass speech, professional discourses, digital media, and even the debates that surround the study of rhetoric (what is rhetorical? How do we know? What definitions guide us?). Literary texts are one way of analyzing how rhetoric is applied, by narrowing the field of possible artifacts of study and by the choice of the theorist to work with these mediums.  Naturally, analyzing how and why texts move us rhetorically – through a consideration of their “affective, ethical, and aesthetic” qualities – invites the question of what texts in particular are the focus of rhetorical study, and why (Phelan “Teaching” 219).


Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis.

James Phelan provides an example using Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow, first defining narrative as “somebody telling somebody else on some occasion and for some purpose or purposes that something has happened” (“Teaching” 219). This definition is one that he uses to “direct our attention to tellers, audiences, and purposes as much as to the ‘something that happened’” (ibid). Working through his analysis, it’s clear he choose Time’s Arrow because it offers attributes that supports his argument that “our experience of literature is multilayered — typically involving at the very least our cognitive abilities, our ethical values, and our emotions…[and that] readers are capable of having similar experiences of the same text” (218). This novel, which is told using backward narration, from the death of the protagonist to his birth, explores the narrator’s attempts to consider the moral being of the protagonist, Odilo Unverdorben, who worked as a doctor in Auschwitz during World War II. It’s context alone invites ethical response, which may be a huge factor when selecting a narrative text for study.

Phelan has a large body of scholarship in rhetorically analyzing narrative texts, especially identifying affective texts that can be studied for their rhetorical properties. His book, Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative, analyzes “ten fictions that collectively constitute a very broad range of interpretive challenges and an equally broad sample of the ways in which narratives deploy judgments and progressions to affect (and,indeed, to effect) our experience of them” (xi-xii). These ten fictions are Ambrose Bierce’s “The Crimson Candle,” Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever,” Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Sandra Cisneros’s “Woman Hollering Creek,” Alice Munro’s “Prue” Ann Beattie’s “Janus,” and Robert Frost’s “Home Burial” (xii). One immediately notices that all of these texts are by well-known, established authors and many of these are fairly well-known stories that enjoy popular digestion. Judgments and progressions refer first to how we ethically value the characters (judge them) and how the narrative “influences significantly our hopes and desires;” that is, what we hope will happen and our willingness to follow the progression, or “paying attention to movement of a narrative from beginning to middle through ending,” in order to find out what happens (Experiencing xii, 2). These judgments extend to the author and narrator, and become more sophisticated as we become more advanced readers, so that “good guys” and “bad guys” are no longer sufficient as narrative devices, but our ethical judgments of more ambiguously moral characters remains. It would seem up to the teacher and scholar to be broadly familiar with a diverse field of narrative fiction in order to select texts that have these elements, or have some part of these elements, in order to successfully apply rhetorical narrative theory. And why would we select this critical approach when teaching or studying rhetoric or literature? Phelan argues that

[A]ttending to the various layers of our experience (especially the intellectual, the emotive, the ethical, and the aesthetic) and recognizing the sources of those experiences in authorial strategy and textual phenomena allow us to understand and value the power of fictional narrative. The reading practice and the associated critical approach ultimately want to give a plausible account of fictional narrative’s ability to reinforce, extend, challenge, or sometimes change what we know, think, believe, and value—and to that extent, its ability to reinforce, challenge, or even change who we are. (Experiencing xiii)


Atonement, by Ian McEwan

In addition to texts listed above, the following texts appear in many other analyses applying rhetorical and affective literary theory: “Desiree’s Baby,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Roman Fever,” Persuasion, and Beloved. In particular, scholars consider the author-audience communication, the norms of the implied author (IA), and, in some cases, the historical, contextual, and biographical means of these texts’ production. Thematically, the narratives analyzed cross genres, represent a diverse body of authors, and address different topics, regions, cultures, and more. The decision-making process behind their selection as objects of study are also diverse. Consider the novel Atonement, considered by some to be one of the ten “devastatingly” saddest novels: James Phelan includes this novel because it “makes judgment itself a major thematic issue, while employing a tour de force progression the effect of which depends heavily on a disclosure that is delayed until almost the ending” (10). He also considers it to employ mimetic and synthetic narrative components that make its analysis a broad survey of narrative forms (13).

What are you talking about?

What are you talking about?

There is seemingly an endless amount of narrative texts that could be analyzed for their rhetorical and affective impact on readers, and, in fact, this particular bounty also creates a sense of incoherence to the field of literary study as well as an abstraction for rhetorical study. What gets included? How do you choose one text over another? As rhetoric, composition, and literature meet in the first year composition classroom, the coherency of each field and what many have argued is a lack of definition and scope, its legitimacy and power within the academy, and the questions of what gets taught and how we assess learning remain prominent and ever-critical for the rhetorical narrative scholar. This reminds us of the criticism that the classroom reveals the instructors’ biases, and certainly text selection is part of that bias. Ultimately we choose, as instructors, texts that move us and that we believe exemplify the characteristics of a narrative that are most worth study. Our choice(s) of theory also play a part, as when I believe reading Amy Bloom’s “Silver Water,” or Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” or David Foster Wallace’s “Incarnations of Burned Children,” will move my students as they moved me[1] and that their reading can lead to concrete rhetorical and affective structural study.

As an argument against the sterile analysis of narrative texts that seek to disregard the lay reader experience while privileging the academic scholar’s interpretation, studying narrative for its affective and rhetorical effect seems to poised to become a more widely recognized literary theory (as it spreads through other disciplines and intersects with many), it is also not touted as the “One True Path to pedagogical salvation for literary critics… [but] the approach has much to recommend it” (Phelan “Teaching” 226). Considering affect is a thing, becoming a major critical theory in many fields today [2]. Affect and the narrative text are analyzed through a close analysis of the implied author, the real author, and the author-audience communication, and is closely related to theoretical origins of studying narrative as rhetoric, the rhetoric of fiction, and shared reader experiences of certain texts.

Reader, what book affected you the most deeply? I’m interested in the fictional literary experiences of others, so please, leave your selection in the comments!


[1] Offered without deep textual analysis of their affective qualities, as I’ve made no formal study of these texts, though each has a poignant narrative to offer that suggests to me isolation, removal, otherness and they always resonant emotionally with my students.

[2] “Doctor: We Should Worry About the Flu, Not Ebola” a story based on public fear and how doctors deal with the emotional fears of patients and emotional epidemiology. The story interviewed Dr. Danielle Ofri, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (Beacon 2013).


Works Cited or Consulted:

Keen, Suzanne. “Introduction: Narrative and the Emotions.” Poetics Today 32.1 (Spring

2011): 1-53. Print

Phelan, James. Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical

Theory of Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007. Print.

—-“Teaching Narrative as Rhetoric: The Example of Time’s Arrow.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 10.1 (2009): 217-28.

Shen, Dan. “Implied Author, Authorial Audience, and Context: Form and History in Neo-

Aristotelian Rhetorical Theory. NARRATIVE 21.2 (May 2013): 140-58. Print.

— “Neo-Aristotelian Rhetorical Narrative Study: Need for Integrating Style, Context, and Intertext. Style 45.4 (Winter 2011): 576-597. Print.

Sprinker, Michael. “ What is Living and What is Dead in Chicago Criticism.” Boundary

2 13.2-3 (Winter/Spring 1985): 189-212. Print.

Stefanescu, Maria. “Revisiting the Implied Author Yet Again: Why (Still) Bother?” Style

54.1 (Spring 2011): 48-66. Print.

Taylor, Richard C. “Literature and Literary Criticism.” English Studies: An Introduction

to the Discipline(s). Ed. Bruce McComisky. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. 199-222. Print.


Filed under All Papers, Paper #3

Rise and Fall, and Rise Again: Debating the “Social Turn” in Rhetoric and Composition Studies.

question marks

So many questions!

A major question in rhetoric and composition (hereafter rhet/comp) studies today  concerns the social turn in rhet/comp methodologies and its effectiveness as a pedagogy. The convening of the annual College Composition and Communication (CCCC) conference in 1964 raised the question of the place rhetoric held in composition instruction, pointing out that “the use of topics (“places” for discovering arguments) and status (finding the type of issue to dispute) helped students raise and investigate compelling questions” and that using rhetorical concepts such as Cicero’s Five Canons, the rhetorical situation, and kairos “encouraged the construction of a full composition curriculum with different aims of writing (Lauer 108). Over the next three decades, the “social turn” in rhet/comp recovered work in the rhetorical writings of women and minorities, previously overlooked or marginalized in rhetorical studies. Lauer describes this as a “rhizomatic spread of theory, research, and new pedagogy” which focused on sociocultural contexts in which students learned the strategies and rhetorical emphases of particular discourse communities, typically investigating their own (121). Scholars such as Lauer, Flower, Friere, Bizzell, LeFevre, hooks, and others argued for the contextual cultural, social, and political concerns of students as entry points for developing effective, empowering, and meaningful rhetorical discourse in rhetoric and composition studies.

If public discourse and civic responsibility were a major concern of colleges and universities in the late 18th and 19th centuries, as S. Michael Halloran argues, why did instruction in classical rhetorical traditions lose its importance? Halloran argues that the emergence of belles lettres as a component of rhetorical studies “distracted the gaze of rhetoricians from their central concern with public discourse,” reframing rhetoric as the art of orating the more aesthetic, or beautiful, elements of speech rather than those that addressed a civic issue (104). As well, the adoption of current-traditional models of rhetoric focused on “products rather than processes” which Halloran argues may be why the creative art of invention with emphasis on substance and content died out in favor of an emphasis on the four modes of the current-traditional model: description, narration, exposition, and argumentation (103). Sharon Crowley also observes that the rise of the current-traditional model led to more formulaic writing processes that emphasized invention and style, and she notes that this formula survived in collegiate texts up through the late eighties and can still be seen today in some writing courses (233). The historical question of why and how emphasis on the social and contextual nature of rhet/comp instruction rose and fell and rose again, has led to increased interest in the theoretical movements of rhet/comp methodologies over time, and whether the social turn has benefited the development of student writing.


Karl Marx.

Jeffrey Zorn openly condemns the practice of privileging student voice and socio-cultural contexts as “garbage,” claiming that is there is no evidence that these methods work to improve student writing (273). Although he doesn’t prove his case either[1] Zorn does seem to be leading the pack on critiquing social-construction as ineffective, or at least, not evidenced as more effective teaching pedagogy in rhet/comp courses. If improved student writing is the desired goal of a first-year composition course, and rhetorical tradition based on classical theories of invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory is a primary approach to teaching writing, then what part do student social and cultural contexts play in achieving those goals? Zorn’s argument is that we have gone too far in encouraging social/cultural studies in the writing classroom, at the expense of more tangible skills like “logic, organization, clarity, third-person exposition, Aristotelian rhetoric, Standard English, literacy itself, education itself, and writing instruction that aspires only to improved writing” (278). This sally invites the question of how rhet/comp instruction is transferred to other courses and the “real world,” as Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) becomes a looming question in rhet/comp studies today. Does raising social consciousness and civic responsibility in first-year writing courses really bear out later in the students’ professional, academic, and social lives?


Betty Friedan.

Paul J. Johnson and Ethan Krase argue that, in their limited study of twelve first-year writing students, a focus on skills – “articulating and supporting claims” and properly supporting their arguments by using documented evidence – seems to be the most transferable to later courses (47). They do not analyze how topics and assignments are constructed in these student’s classes, and so maintain only that specific and direct instruction on articulating claims and providing valid evidence and support is a measurable skill that was transferred from first-year writing courses into later upper-level courses across a variety of genres. This moves us into questioning the relationship between Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and the transfer of writing ability to other courses. WAC questions seem to be appropriately placed in English Studies, since new fields in linguistics, literacy, technical communication, and other domains have integrated new genres that English Studies, and the rhet/comp field in particular, are most readily able to accommodate. In first-year writing, there is a lot of room for instructors to sample many different writing genres with their students, and as Lauer notes, rhetoric and composition scholars in the 1980’s began to argue that “teaching a rhetoric of inquiry in the disciplines helps writers ‘learn how knowledge has been constructed as well as what that knowledge is'” (123). WAC is also connected to how students transfer writing skills outside the classroom (“extracurriculum,” as termed by Anne Ruggles Gere)[2], and most particularly outside academia and in the community. Ellen Cushman notes in her article, “The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change,” that we must encourage students to be active outside of the classroom, especially in their communities, and her own work as a doctoral student involved helping community members write resumes, fill out housing and college applications, and compose business letters (7, 13). Thus, students social contexts and using a social-constructionist pedagogy remains a major question in rhetoric and composition studies, but one I suggest is relevant to developing research in WAC and the transfer of writing skills as applied learning in the “real world.”


Paolo Friere.


Works Cited

Crowley, Sharon. “The Current-Traditional Theory of Style: An Informal History.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 16:4 (Autumn, 1986): 233-250.

Cushman, Ellen. “The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change,” College Composition and Communication 47:1 (Feb. 1996): 7-28. Print.

Halloran, S. Micheal. “Rhetoric in the American College Curriculum: The Decline of Public Discourse.” PRE/TEXT, 3:3 (1982): 93-115. Print.

Johnson, J. Paul and Ethan Krase. “Articulating Claims and Presenting Evidence: A Study of Twelve Student Writers, From First-Year Composition to Writing Across the Curriculum.” The WAC Journal 23 (2012): 31048. Print.

Lauer, Janice. “Rhetoric and Composition.” English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s). Ed. Bruce McComisky. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. 106-152. Print.

Zorn, Jeffrey. “English Compositionism as Fraud and Failure.” Academic Questions 26:3 (2013): 270-284. Print.


[1] Zorn argues that three things must happen in order to teach “remedial, core, advanced, or discipline-specific writing classes”: 1) dissociate composition teaching from literature teaching; 2) dissociate composition teaching from composition studies and composition theory; and 3) put writing instruction in the hands of practitioners – of whatever academic training and political leaning – whose only job is to guide student writers towards proficiency at the level traditionally associated with “higher” education.” (283, 272). Zorn offers no evidence that more traditional teaching practices had a greater learning outcome effect on student writing, and it begs the question that, if traditional forms were so wonderful, why they’ve been sidelined in favor of social-constructionalist approaches. Halloran does discuss this shift in his article, “Rhetoric in the American College Curriculum: The Decline of Public Discourse” (1982), but that only concerns the teaching of rhetoric for “effective communication on public problems, problems that arise in our life in political communities” (94). Johnson and Krase argue that focusing on specific writing skills does seem to produce more measurable transfer in student writing, but their sample is limited to twelve students.

[2] Gere, Anne Ruggles. “Kitchen Tables and Rented Rooms: The Extracurriculum of Composition.” College Composition and Communication 45.1 (1994): 75-92. Print.


Filed under All Papers, Paper #2

A (Very Brief) History of Rhetoric and Composition Studies

Bust of Aristotle.


The study of rhetoric can be traced back to Aristotle’s treatise Rhetoric, developed over several years in the 4th century BC. Wayne Booth notes that Aristotle’s inaugural work on rhetorical discourse first confirmed the multi-disciplinary application of rhetoric within education; it has “no specific territory or subject matter of its own,” but instead can be found everywhere (3). Now primarily living within the parent discipline of English Studies, rhetoric, and its marriage with composition as “the written branch of rhetoric,” is a field that has been historically fraught with a fight for legitimacy and for aligned and coherent methodologies (Lauer 20).

The core strategies of rhetorical discourse have lived through to today, despite its turbulent history throughout the ages. Critics often derided rhetoric for its emphasis on persuasion over truth, and indeed, Plato, transcribing Socrates’s attack on rhetorical oratory in Gorgias (380 BC) both somewhat defines the function of early rhetorical oratory but most pointedly condemns its moral and ethical uses in public speech. Francis Bacon defined rhetoric as “the application of reason to imagination for the better moving of the will. It is not solid reasoning of the kind science exhibits” (Booth 5). As scientific reasoning and knowledge blossomed in the Enlightenment, rhetorical studies and practice became a lesser area of study, regarded as artificial knowledge that is informed only by the work in other fields. John Locke, writing in 1690, reduced rhetoric to a deceptive art that promoted “wrong ideas,” and was performed by “perfect cheats,” whose only goal was to misdirect and misinform men (7). He allows that rhetorical arts are only effective because “men find pleasure to be deceived” (7). It is against this backdrop that we consider the standing of rhetoric and composition today in modern higher education institutions.

Faigley, Lester. “Competing Theories of Process: A Critique and a Proposal.” College  English, 48.6 (October 1986): 527-542. Print.

ref. Lester Faigley

Modern first-year composition courses in American higher education institutions emerged at Harvard in 1885, after a long period of neglect in American higher education[1] (Bamberg 7). Scholars Sharon Crowley, James Berlin, and others who studied its entrance into colleges across the U.S. argue that its adoption was borne more from institutional goals to increase enrollments and reach new populations of students than from meeting specific learning goals (Skinnell 95). Thomas Miller observes that institutional imperatives drove much of the adoption of more pragmatic programmatic moves that “emerge at junctures where expanding disciplinary trends connect with social and technological shifts in literacy,” and where a focus on addressing the “literacy crisis” became an institutional duty (6). Due to a perceived lack of both rigor and clear and unified methodology, English studies, and composition studies in particular, was scorned from within the academy, because of its reputation of being “un-disciplined” (McComisky 10). With a renewed focus on first-year composition in the 1960’s, rhetoric and composition studies gained some ground because of accreditation requirements and its ability to “pay the bills” (19). Beyond simply addressing larger social and institutional needs, the early sixties ushered in new areas of study for composition scholars, as they considered the wealth of pedagogical literature, but lamented rhet/comp’s dearth of theoretical studies (Faigley 527). Theory became a legitimate research area in composition studies, especially theory that moved it beyond instruction in “grammar and usage” and into sound pedagogical processes (529). These early debates about the theory and practice underpinning rhetoric and composition studies have roiled at critical points throughout time, most notably in the seventies and eighties, [2] and bring us now to considering what remains as critical questions within the discipline.

Janice Lauer poses several concerns troubling modern day rhet/comp studies, pointing out that primary and secondary audiences serve two different functions within the field. She notes that the primary audience is scholars forwarding new theories and who have a rhetorical purpose; they are the “epistemic field of experts” (24). However, the secondary audience of writing instructors, who do not necessarily contribute new theory or research in the field, problematize current debates because “very little consensus can be attributed to” new claims in the field (24). This means that instructors are unified in teaching rhet/com, nor knowledgeable about the same composition theories, thus, are not acting as an epistemic body of experts who can determine value. Lauer further notes that there can be validation of discourse theory when new knowledge is widely adopted in the classroom, while other scholarly theories, however critical to the field, may disappear without much notice if they never influence instructional methods (24). This exchange between theorists and instructors is both beneficial to composition studies as we agree to processes and ideas that have merit, as well as potentially detrimental because some theory becomes gospel in writing instruction, despite the fallibility of its effect or truth.

Pull out quote - practice as lore. What’s compelling today about the continuing debate in rhetoric and composition, as well as English Studies as its parent discipline, is that, over time, little seems to have been resolved, but more conflict has arisen. These debates happen in the theoretical space, and thus, what gets adopted would be what gets more broad attention and becomes “lore,”[3] (Lauer 24, 26). It is unclear from the scholarship whether classroom instructors, many of them not elbow deep in research in the field, have access to emerging theories and experimental processes other than what is passed down as lore. Bamberg, studying the historical arguments against first-year composition,[4] presents the debate as having moved from external criticisms to internal issues, such as what gets taught (content) and how knowledge is transferred. More positively, studying the debates in composition as well as in English studies has brought about a new disciplinary focus, one that is based on historical analysis and comparative discourse that informs research and instruction today (Mclemee). And unlike English Studies, which continues to contest its position as an ever-alienated collection of language and communication fields, over time composition studies has enjoyed a more positive sense of community and aligned pedagogical goals (Lauer 27).

Works Cited:

Bamberg, Betty. “Alternative Models of First-Year Composition: Possibilities and Problems.” Writing Program Administrators, 21:1 (Fall 1997):

7-18. Print.

Booth, Wayne C. “How Many ‘Rhetorics’?” The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. Print.

Faigley, Lester. “Competing Theories of Process: A Critique and a Proposal.” College English, 48.6 (October 1986): 527-542. Print.

Lauer, Janice M. “Composition Studies: Dappled Discipline.” Rhetoric Review, 3.1 (1984): 20-29. Print.

McComiskey, Bruce, Ed. “Introduction.” English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. Print.

Mclemee, Scott. “Deconstructing Composition.” Chronicle Of Higher Education 49.28 (2003): A16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Aug. 2014.

Miller, Thomas P. “Introduction.” The Evolution of College English: Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns, Pittsburgh: U. of

Pittsburgh Press, 2010. Print.

Skinnell, Ryan. “Harvard, Again: Considering Articulation and Accreditation in Rhetoric and Composition’s History.” Rhetoric Review, 33.2 (2014): 95-112. Print.


[1] There is growing debate about whether rhetoric truly suffered at the hands of the Romantics. See Christopher Diller’s article “The Art of Rhetoric: Aesthetics and Rhetoric in the American Renaissance, or Ryan Skinnell’s “Harvard, Again: Considering Articulation and Accreditation in Rhetoric and Composition’s History.”

[2] See Lester Faigley’s article “Competing Theories of Process: A Critique and a Proposal,” as well as Richard Fulkerson’s “Composition at the Turn of the Century,” for two comprehensive analyses of the theoretical debates in composition studies during the seventies and eighties.

[3] Mclemee defines “lore” as “a body of methods and rules of thumb passed down by generations of writing instructors.” See also Louise Wetherbee Phelps’s article “Practical Wisdom and the Geography of Knowledge in Composition,” (College English 53:8, Dec. 1991) and her discussion of practical wisdom and community sharing in composition studies.

[4] She references Sharon Crowley’s call to eliminate first-year composition in her 1991 Pretext article, as well as many responses to Crowley. Bamberg also cites Robert J. Connors as quoted by Charles Schuster as calling first-year composition the “Third World of English Studies” (8).


Filed under All Papers, Paper #1, Uncategorized