Microhistories of Composition
Writing studies has been dominated throughout its history by grand narratives of the discipline, but in this volume Bruce McComiskey begins to explore microhistory as a way to understand, enrich, and complicate how the field relates to its past. Microhistory investigates the dialectical interaction of social history and cultural history, enabling historians to examine uncommon sites, objects, and agents of historical significance overlooked by social history and restricted to local effects by cultural history. This approach to historical scholarship is ideally suited for exploring the complexities of a discipline like composition.
Through an introduction and eleven chapters, McComiskey and his contributors—including major figures in the historical research of writing studies, such as Louise Wetherbee Phelps, Kelly Ritter, and Neal Lerner—develop focused narratives of particular significant moments or themes in disciplinary history. They introduce microhistorical methodologies and illustrate their application and value for composition historians, contributing to the complexity and adding momentum to the emerging trend within writing studies toward a richer reading of the field’s past and future. Scholars and historians of both composition and rhetoric will appreciate the fresh perspectives on institutional and disciplinary histories and larger issues of rhetorical agency and engagement enacted in writing classrooms that are found in Microhistories of Composition.
Other contributors include Cheryl E. Ball, Suzanne Bordelon, Jacob Craig, Matt Davis, Douglas Eyman, Brian Gogan, David Gold, Christine Martorana, Bruce McComiskey, Josh Mehler, Annie S. Mendenhall, Kendra Mitchell, Antony N. Ricks, David Stock, Kathleen Blake Yancey, Bret Zawilski, and James T. Zebroski.
It’s good. Really good . . . A valuable addition to the modern history of the field.'
—Carol Berkenkotter, University of Minnesota
'[Continues] the work of complicating grand narratives and opening up new possibilities for approaches, methodologies, and sites of study. . . . complicate[s] our understandings of composition and open[s] up new possibilities for historical research. . . . would make [a] good [model] for composition researchers writing revisionist histories, as well as for teachers seeking to provide students with an expansive understanding of disciplinary origins.'
Bruce McComiskey specializes in rhetoric and composition, classical rhetoric, and professional writing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His publications include Microhistories of Composition, Dialectical Rhetoric, Teaching Composition as a Social Process, Gorgias and the New Sophistic Rhetoric, and the edited collection English Studies: An Introduction to the Disciplines.
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