A Pedagogy of Possibility: Bakhtinian Perspectives on Composition Studies

Synopsis

In a book that itself exemplifies the dialogic scholarship it proposes, Kay Halasek reconceives composition studies from a Bakhtinian perspective, focusing on both the discipline's theoretical assumptions and its pedagogies.

Framing her discussions at every level of the discipline -- theoretical, historical, pedagogical -- Halasek provides an overview of portions of the Bakhtinian canon relevant to composition studies, explores the implications of Mikhail Bakhtin's work in the teaching of writing and for current debates about the role of theory in composition studies, and provides a model of scholarship that strives to maintain dialogic balance between practice and theory, between composition studies and Bakhtinian thought.

Halasek's study ranges broadly across the field of composition, painting in wide strokes a new picture of the discipline, focusing on the finer details of the rhetorical situation, and teasing out the implications of Bakhtinian thought for classroom practice by examining the nature of critical reading and writing, the efficacy and ethics of academic discourse, student resistance, and critical and conflict pedagogy. The book ends by setting out a pedagogy of possibility, what Halasek terms elsewhere a "post-critical pedagogy" that redefines and redirects current discussions of home versus academic literacies and discourses.

"No one working in this line of inquiry has yet come close to [Halasek] in articulating Bakhtin's views with those of the authoritative voices in composition studies; no one has recognized and developed the implications of his work across the key topics of the field from disciplinarity to history to theory to pedagogy; no one has managed, asshe has, to shift the ground of conversation in the field into Bakhtinian terrain, forcefully modifying the questions we need to ask and at the same time leaving open spaces for our investigating and debating them. This is o

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