This timely intervention into composition studies presents a case for the need to teach all students a shared system of communication and logic based on the modern globalizing ideals of universality, neutrality, and empiricism.
Based on a series of close readings of contemporary writing by Stanley Fish, Asao Inoue, Doug Downs and Elizabeth Wardle, Richard Rorty, Slavoj Zizek, and Steven Pinker, this book critiques recent arguments that traditional approaches to teaching writing, grammar, and argumentation foster marginalization, oppression, and the restriction of student agency. Instead, it argues that the best way to educate and empower a diverse global student body is to promote a mode of academic discourse dedicated to the impartial judgment of empirical facts communicated in an open and clear manner. It provides a critical analysis of core topics in composition studies, including the teaching of grammar; notions of objectivity and neutrality; empiricism and pragmatism; identity politics; and postmodernism.
Aimed at graduate students and junior instructors in rhetoric and composition, as well as more seasoned scholars and program administrators, this polemical book provides an accessible staging of key debates that all writing instructors must grapple with.
Robert Samuels teaches writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of 15 books, including Why Public Higher Education Should be Free.
1. Introduction: Reason, Rhetoric, Writing, and Global Progress
2. Should We Teach Grammar?
3. Is the Teaching of Writing Racist?
4. The Rejection of Neutrality
5. The Politics of Reason in Academic Discourse
6. Ethos, Logos, Pathos, and Catharsis
7. Teaching Post-Truth Rhetoric: From South Park to Trump
8. Rorty, Zizek, and Pragmatic Idealism
9. Teaching Reason in the Age of Unreason