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Experimental Writing in Composition

Aesthetics and Pedagogies

Patricia Suzanne Sullivan

Publication Year: 2012

From the outset, experimental writing has been viewed as a means to afford a more creative space for students to express individuality, underrepresented social realities, and criticisms of dominant sociopolitical discourses and their institutions. Yet, the recent trend toward multimedia texts has left many composition instructors with little basis from which to assess these new forms and to formulate pedagogies. In this original study, Patricia Suzanne Sullivan provides a critical history of experimental writing theory and its aesthetic foundations and demonstrates their application to current multimodal writing. Sullivan unpacks the work of major scholars in composition and rhetoric and their theories on aesthetics, particularly avant-gardism. She also relates the dialectics that shape these aesthetics and sheds new light on both the positive and negative aspects of experimental writing and its attempts to redefine the writing disciplines. Additionally, she shows how current debates over the value of multimedia texts echo earlier arguments that pitted experimental writing against traditional models. Sullivan articulates the ways that multimedia is and isn’t changing composition pedagogies and provides insights into resolving these tensions.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

It isn’t possible to thank everyone I need and want to thank, but I will attempt to do so. I would like to thank some of my colleagues and friends who first explicitly welcomed me into the field of composition when they invited me to contribute to proposals for a panel for the Conference on...

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pp. 1-16

In Experimental Writing in Composition: Aesthetics and Pedagogies, I critically examine the role that theories of “aesthetics” (variously defined) play in major composition pedagogies. Scholars in composition and rhetoric such as Peter Elbow, Wendy Bishop, Winston Weathers, Lillian...

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1. Experimental Expressivism: Autonomy and Alienation

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pp. 17-44

Contemporary arguments for experimental writing in composition, with their emphasis on the individual student, echo many of the concerns of expressivist composition of the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, if we want to understand the calls for experimental writing in our time, we need to consider...

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2. Experimental Writing and the Politics of Academic Discourse: Composition’s Institutions

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pp. 45-75

As I showed in the previous chapter, while expressivists who argue for the teaching of experimental writing often critique academic discourse (not only in the forms of current traditionalism but also in the newer cultural studies or rhetorical versions), they are more concerned with the student...

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3. The Crisis of Judgment in Composition: Evaluating Experimental Student Writing

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pp. 76-102

The presence of arguments in composition for experimental writing can be seen both as a response to a crisis of value and judgment in composition and as an attempt to bring about such a crisis. Some teachers of writing are uncertain about the value of teaching academic writing in an...

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4. Collage: Pedagogies, Aesthetics, and Reading Students’ Texts

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pp. 103-146

Numerous cases for the teaching of collage in composition have been made, both explicitly (see Elbow, Weathers, Nies, Owens, Fontaine and Quaas, Ulmer) and by example in textbooks (see assignments in both Text Book [Scholes, Comley, and Ulmer] and Ways of Reading [Bartholomae and...

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5. Postscript: Toward a Multimodal Composition

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pp. 147-159

As with experimental writing, arguments for multimodal composition suggest that especially through the use of new technologies, students may be better allowed to express their individual experiences, articulate marginal or underrepresented social realities, as well as critique the limits...


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pp. 161-174

Works Cited

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pp. 175-183


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pp. 185-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978152
E-ISBN-10: 0822978156
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962083
Print-ISBN-10: 082296208X

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture