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An institutional critique of writing process

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Language
  • Rhetoric And Composition
  • Education
  • Literature


James Berlin has posited that teachers ought to be able to recognize and justify their own versions of writing process, along with all its significance. So far, what teachers have to accomplish this challenge are varied classification systems such as expressivist, cognitive, and social epistemic. But, enacted versions of writing process are not often so neatly discriminated in the classroom, where instead there are conflations of process types. I maintain that the classification systems, to date, do not offer teachers a sufficiently theoretically articulated tool with which to choose and justify their choices of writing process, particularly, as they relate to broad, cultural considerations. Using institutional critique, I map a cultural field of relations, a rhetorical subjectivity model, with which any writing process is imbricated and I suggest how the model might be particularized to specific teaching contexts. I position on this map the instantiated writing process of the first-year composition textbook, Writing With A Purpose (twelfth edition), to illustrate a specific evaluation of how the articulated elements in the rhetorical subjectivity model might be applied, as well as to imply a general critique of the state of contemporary conceptualizations and applications of writing process. Last, I expand my institutional critique of the writing process field of relations through an analysis of a specific university writing program. Ultimately, I argue that the rhetorical subjectivity model aids teachers in exercising reflexive evaluations of their writing process choices, while also serving as a tool by which to guide future writing process decisions. ^

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