Rhetoric and composition experienced a significant shift away from pedagogy after the mid-1980s as the field immersed itself in social issues and cultural studies. Romantic rhetoric, for example, aims to give students opportunities to engage in self-expressive writing, and as Hillocks (2002) suggested, its pedagogical focus is on getting students to see more clearly the world around them and to describe and share their feelings; there is little attention to audience, rhetoric, or structure because this approach privileges the writer and thereby subordinates standard writing conventions and reader expectations. Moreover, romantic rhetoric commonly demonstrates hostility toward preparing students to perform the writing tasks assigned in college or in the workplace, which anyone concerned with helping students succeed in life must view as a serious shortcoming. Postmodern rhetoric has even less interest in pedagogical issues, rejecting the idea that writing instruction has meaning. Indeed, some advocates of postmodern rhetoric have called for the abolition of composition classes and for a focus on cultural and political issues, a move that can be characterized not only as antieducational but also as antisocial.
The movement away from pedagogy was led primarily by faculty at large research universities who, if they teach composition at all, have very light teaching loads. In most cases, this movement has not addressed or even considered the needs of teachers at smaller universities, community colleges, and public schools, where the teaching loads are heavy and where unparalleled immigration since about 1980 has resulted in classrooms with ESL populations as high as 90% in many