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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 387M • Writing Theory and Praxis

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36200 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
BEN 1.124

Course Description

This seminar seeks to ask these questions: Why read writing theory and what theories should be read? How do theories impact practice and what if experience contradicts theory? How has writing theory evolved over time and where is it now? In order to examine these questions and potential answers, students will be looking at work that both lays out historical tracks of writing theory and explores the conflicts within the field. In addition, whether students have taught any subject or whether they have been only the object of teaching practices they will be able to use their experiences so as to better understand their own writing practices, translate what is theorized into any classroom, and theorize practices they observe.

Students will engage theories and praxis through an overview of the cyclical crises in literacy that have stimulated new writing theories throughout the last forty years. They will also look at the sub-genres within the field of writing theory; the evolutionary definition of "writing theory" and the competing claims that have resulted; the influence on and of writing across the curriculum; and the impact of technology, media, and global English. They will have the option of choosing a subfield of interest to study, one which intersects their own specialty (e.g. in literature, rhetoric, writing, communication or education). Students will become aware of the range of perspectives that "writing theory" represents and how their own understanding of what it is to write--and who can and can't "write"--constructs the texts each of us value and produce. While not a methods courses, students will be reading works that demonstrate the various ways in which research is conducted when writing is central to the question at hand.

Students will be asked to participate in the class through reading responses, collaborative and individual discussion and oral presentations of their own research in progress. They will be asked to engage in the current discussions in the field through interviews or observation of the fields listservs; they will examine their own writing and their writing in this course, and position themselves theoretically within the field at large and their sub-field of choice.

Students in any major, but particularly rhetoric and composition, literary studies, speech communication, and education would benefit not only from understanding how theories of writing affect their own communication practices, ways in which they might teach or ways in which they might work with others around the world through email and other technologies of communication.


Materials may include Cross-Talk in Comp Theory, ed. Victor Villaneuva; The Braddock Essays 1975-1998, ed. Lisa Ede; Contending With Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age, eds. Patricia Harkin and John Schilb; Views from the Center: The CCCC Chairs' Addresses 1977-2005, eds. Duane Roen. Selections from Inventing a Discipline: Rhetorical Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Young, ed. Maureen Daly Goggin; Under Construction: Working at the Intersections of Composition Theory, Research and Practice, eds. Christine Farris and Chris Anson; Composition Theory for the Postmodern Classroom, eds. Gary A Olson and Sidney Dobrin; Writing Theory and Critical Theory, eds. John Clifford and John Schilb; WAC for the New Millennium, eds. McLeod, Socen, Miraglia and Thaiss; Writing in Cross National Perspective, eds. David Foster and David Russell; and the journals Kairos, ATD, CCCC and the WPA-List.


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