Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm

Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm

Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm

Post-Process Theory: Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm

Synopsis

Breaking with the still-dominant process tradition in composition studies, post-process theory -- or at least the different incarnations of post-process theory discussed by the contributors represented in this collection of original essays -- endorses the fundamental idea that no codifiable or generalizable writing process exists or could exist. Post-process theorists hold that the practice of writing cannot be captured by a generalized process or a "big" theory.

Most post-process theorist hold three assumption about the act of writing: writing is public; writing is interpretive; and writing is situated. The first assumption is the commonsensical claim that writing constitutes a public interchange. By "interpretive act, " post process theorists generally mean something as broad "making sense of" and not exclusively the ability to move from one code to another. To interpret means more than merely to paraphrase; it means to enter in a relationship of understanding with other language users. And finally, because writing is a public act that requires interpretive interaction with others, writers always write from some position or some place. Writer are never nowhere; they are "situated."

Leading theorists and widely published scholars the field, contributors are Nancy Blyler, John Clifford Barbara Couture, Nancy C. DeJoy, Sidney I. Dobrin, Elizabeth Ervin, Helen Ewald, David Foster, Debra Journet, Thomas Kent, Gary A. Olson, Joseph Petragl George Pullman, David Russell, and John Schilb.

Excerpt

I suspect that the readers of this volume already know the central tenets of the writing-process movement about as well as they know the letters of the English alphabet. In our training as composition teachers, most of us cut our teeth on the claims that writing constitutes a process of some sort and that this process is generalizable, at least to the extent that we know when someone is being "recursive" or to the extent that we know when to intervene in someone's writing process or to the extent that we know the process that experienced or "expert" writers employ as they write. However, the central assumptions that inform what has come to be called "post- process" theory may not be so well understood. Breaking with the still-dominant process tradition in composition studies, post-process theory--or at least the different incarnations of post-process theory discussed by many of the authors represented in this collection-- endorses the fundamental idea that no codifiable or generalizable writing process exists or could exist. Post-process theorists hold--for all sorts of different reasons--that writing is a practice that cannot be captured by a generalized process or a Big Theory. Yet if writing is not a generalizable process, what do post-process theorists think it is?

Most post-process theorists hold three assumptions about the act of writing: (1) writing is public; (2) writing is interpretive; and (3) writing is situated. The first assumption makes the commonsensical claim that writing constitutes a public interchange. By "public," post- process theorists generally mean that the writing act, as a kind of communicative interaction, automatically includes other language users, as well as the writer. If writing is a public act--if what we write must be accessible to others--then the possibility for a "private" writing evaporates. We are never alone; we write always in a relation with others. In fact, some post-process theorists expand this claim and argue, in a Davidsonian fashion, that we could not write at all if it were not for other language users and a world we share with others. So when post-process theorists claim that writing is a public act, they mean that writing constitutes a specific communicative interaction oc-

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