Offers an extended critique of key assumptions in composition theory and a new paradigm for thinking about writing in an increasingly globalized and textualized world.
How can theory improve our knowledge of writing? Raúl Sánchez answers this question by examining dominant theoretical trends in composition studies over the last fifteen years, citing their common origins in a narrow, representational metatheory of writing. He argues that this adherence actually leads the field away from its objects of study: writing and the writing subject. Through this extended critique, he elaborates an alternative metatheory, one that restores writing to the conceptual center of composition studies by emphasizing its generativerather than its representationalcharacteristics, particularly in increasingly networked and textualized cultures.
“Sánchez’s critique of the status of knowledge in composition studies is thought-provoking. For in problematizing knowledge in the manner he does, and thus a constellation of related terms, Sánchez destabilizes the very ground upon which contemporary composition is built.” — JAC
"Given the huge wave of theory that flowed through composition and rhetoric beginning in the 1980s, it is important now to take stock of what the changes wrought by theory will have meant for us. Sánchez shows us how our conceptions of knowledge and theory have in some senses not come along as far as we might have thought, and thereby opens up a space for thinking anew about these issues beyond interpretive/hermeneutic frameworks that are still predominant. He makes an interesting, innovative argument, one that I think will be good for the field to hear. And, he helps supply further rationale for the centrality of writing in university curriculums, if not life in general." Thomas J. Rickert, Purdue University
"I am continually dumbfounded at our field's resistance to theory, by its reluctance to answer toor even to explorethe challenges that critical theory has posed to our discipline's foundations, including writer, text, communication. Sánchez, on the contrary, not only addresses theory in composition studies, and by so doing, attends to that minority of scholars in the field who are taking theoretical challenges seriously, but he also attempts to theorize, as the title suggests, how theory functions in composition studies." Michelle Ballif, coeditor of Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources
Raúl Sánchez is Associate Professor of English at the University of Florida.