Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
Toward a Post-Process
Composition: Abandoning
the Rhetoric of Assertion
Gary A. Olson

Gary A. Olson is Professor of English and director of the graduate program in rhetoric and composition at the University of South Florida. His most recent book is The Kinneavy Papers: Theory and the Study of Discourse (with Lynn Worsham and Sidney Dobrin). The following article is from PostProcess Theory:Beyond the Writing-Process Paradigm, edited by Thomas Kent (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999).

The process movement in composition served us well. It emphasized that writing is an “activity, ” an act that is itself composed of a variety of activities; that the activities involved in the act of writing are typically recursive rather than linear; that writing is first and foremost a social activity; that the act of writing can be a means of learning and discovery; that experienced writers are often intensely aware of audience, purpose, and context; that experienced writers invest considerable amounts of time in invention and revision activities; that effective instruction in composition provides opportunities for students to practice the kinds of activities involved in the act of writing; that such instruction includes ample opportunities to read and comment on the work of peers and to receive the comments of peers about one's own writing; that effective composition instructors grade a student's work not solely on the finished product but also on the efforts the student has invested in the process of crafting the product; and that successful composition instruction entails finding appropriate occasions to intervene in each student's writing process. In these and other ways, the process orientation helped us to theorize writing in more productive ways than previously and to devise pedagogies that familiarize students with the kinds of activities that writers often engage in when they write. As several “postprocess” scholars have pointed out recently, however, the process orientation has its own limitations. Key among these limitations is the fact that the process orientation, as we have conceived it, imagines that the writing

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