Reflecting a history, charting a future: A rhetorical analysis of Composition anthologies

Date of Completion

January 2009


Language, Rhetoric and Composition




This dissertation is a rhetorical analysis of Composition anthologies, defined as those collections of noncommissioned, previously published articles or book chapters that are compiled and published for teachers and scholars who are new to the discipline of Composition. It argues that Charles Schuster's "'theory/practice' dichotomy" exists in these anthologies despite Composition's efforts to erase such a binary from its literature. While the dichotomy is reinforced by editorial decisions including prefaces, introductions, tables of contents and overall organization, the articles chosen by the editor(s) for inclusion in these anthologies often subvert the theory/practice dichotomy. This tension between the editorial message and the individual authors' messages reinforces perspectives on theory and practice to the detriment of the discipline. As a case study, the dissertation discusses the proliferation of Patrick Hartwell's "Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar" in these anthologies; this author's essay is the most repeatedly reprinted article in the collection of anthologies under study. The dissertation calls for more awareness of the values being transmitted to subsequent generations of Compositionists via these anthologies and for more dialogue concerning binaries in the discipline's scholarship. ^