As I went through this week’s reading, “Rhetoric and Composition” by Janice Lauer, I kept considering that although rhetoric and composition reemergence is a relatively recent, beginning in the 1960s, the study of how we communicate and why is not.
I found it interesting in the reading that although there has been this tension between writing for the individual and writing for the social when it comes to rhetoric and composition studies, the way we teach these subjects (at least in my experience in American schools) hasn’t much changed from the writing as a product perspective. As a substitute teacher, I try to pick up days where I will be covering either an ELA or literacy class, and I still see the focus on the five-paragraph essay, or the 6-7 sentence paragraph, or the ability to deconstruct sentences (with the intention of students’ ability to “test” better – so writing is still very much considered a product). I also questioned this tension between the individual and the social in the reading. Society is made up of individuals, so wouldn’t trying to understand each individual’s experience when it comes to writing help us to understand the social? In the same vein, an individual belongs to many societies, and as much as someone’s purpose for writing may be individualistic, the social will emerge from the writing because that individual, whether it is a student, writer, or teacher, belongs to their respective discourses.
I also recognize in this week’s reading that there is so much I do not know or understand yet in the field of writing studies. I had the impression that a lot happened in the discipline from the 1960s until now, and much of it was in answer to what came before or what was happening during those time periods, either challenging or qualifying previous theories or arguments.