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Rhetorical exigencies: Essays at the intersections of rhetoric and composition, creative nonfiction, and critical pedagogy

Rochelle L Harris, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


A central question of my research is, “What is the work of writing?” Critical and contemporary writing pedagogies conceive of the work of writing in the academy to be, simultaneously, the potential for cultural critique and reform as well as the practice of privileged discourses. Similarly, current reflections on and analyses of creative nonfiction describe the “work” of these writers as articulating the tensions and disjunctions—often from a first-person perspective—of society and culture. I locate my dissertation inquiry in these compelling disciplinary conversations, specifically at the intersections of what I name the personal-critical-rhetorical : an attention to the “I,” its relationship to cultural systems, and the ways in which these are composed, both in specific texts, like a student essay, and in our heteroglossic roles in society. These are the rich layers at work in an emergent moment, those moments of choice and agency critical educators facilitate in the classroom. Students in our classes have the means to transform the very culture in which they participate when the work of the writer is not only to compose but also to become successful users of language and study the ways in which she composes as a means of becoming a more engaged citizen. ^ To support my argument to encourage such emergent moments, I enter into and reframe disciplinary debates surrounding the “personal”; offer a critical theory of the “essay”; provide an in-depth study of three pedagogical practices, emergent moments, rhetorical analysis, and teacher-response to student writing; and argue for a critical composition pedagogy which draws from creative nonfiction and recast “praxis” and “intertextuality” as critical practices. I make these arguments by rhetorically and critically analyzing student and published texts, personal experience, and theories of writing, rhetoric, and pedagogy. My research continues the interdisciplinary work of scholars like bell hooks, Ellen Cushman, Paul Heilker, Malea Powell, and Victor Villanueva. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Language, Rhetoric and Composition

Recommended Citation

Harris, Rochelle L, "Rhetorical exigencies: Essays at the intersections of rhetoric and composition, creative nonfiction, and critical pedagogy" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3163990.