Some of the essays investigate theoretical and historical issues. Others show the bearing of classical rhetoric on contemporary problems in composition, thus blending theory and practice. Common to the varied approaches and viewpoints expressed in this volume is one central theme: the 20th-century revival of rhetoric entails a recovery of the classical tradition, with its marriage of a rich and fully articulated theory with an equally efficacious practice. A preface demonstrates the contribution of Edward P. J. Corbett to the 20th-century revival, and a last chapter includes a bibliography of his works.
Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford challenge the assumption that writing is a solitary act. That challenge is grounded in their own personal experience as long-term collaborators and in their extensive research, including a three-stage study of collaborative writing supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.
The authors urge a fundamental change in our institutions to accommodate collaboration by radically resituating power in the classroom and by instituting rewards for collaborative work that equal rewards for single-authored work. They conclude with the injunction: "Today and in the twenty-first century, our data suggest, writers must be able to work together. They must, in short, be able to collaborate."
For two fields that have so much in common, very little dialogue exists between them. Crossing Borderlands attempts to establish such an exchange in the hopes of creating a productive “borderland” where they can work together to realize common goals.
Lunsford is a celebrated scholar of rhetoric and composition, and many undergraduates taking courses in those subjects have used her textbooks. Here she helps us see that writing is not just a mode of communication, persuasion, and expression, but a web of meanings and practices that shape our lives. Lunsford tells how she gained a new respect for our digital culture's three v's--vocal, visual, verbal--while helping design and teach a course in multimedia writing. On the importance of having a linguistically pluralistic society, Lunsford draws links between such varied topics as the English Only movement, language extinction, Ebonics, and the text messaging shorthand "l33t."
Lunsford has seen how words, writing, and language enforce unfair power relationships in the academy. Most classroom settings, she writes, are authority based and stress "individualism, ranking, hierarchy, and therefore--we have belatedly come to understand--exclusion." Concerned about the paucity--still--of tenured women and minority faculty, she urges schools to revisit admission and retention practices. These are tough and divisive problems, Lunsford acknowledges. Yet if we can see that writing has the power to help prolong or solve them--that writing matters--then we have a common ground.