Beyond "Just the Facts": Reading as Rhetorical Action
All English teachers are teachers of reading and of writing. Whether a teacher's scholarship, instruction, and institutional identity lie primarily within literature or within composition, the day-to-day business of English classrooms is inherently bound up in texts: student texts, teacher texts, canonical texts, marginal texts. These texts are read and reread, written and rewritten, as teaching and learning proceed. Despite this fact, a great deal of recent scholarship in English, aimed at understanding the learning that goes on in our classrooms, has focused almost exclusively on writing and writing processes. In a recent "College Composition and Communication" article, Russell Durst points out that fully 62% of the articles cited in the Research in the Teaching of English bibliographies since 1984 have focused on written composition ( Durst, 1990). Although 9% of the articles focused on literature, Durst noted none that specifically dealt with reading or reading processes. Similar results would no doubt be found for other publications written for college teachers of English.
Yet, as teachers and as researchers, we know that reading and writing are closely tied. In a variety of literacy contexts -- within and outside educational settings -- much real writing arises in response to reading, and students' reading is often challenged, enriched, and evaluated by having them write. Further, the trend in language teaching today is toward placing students in rich reading and writing contexts, rather than teaching them isolated skills. In such contexts, the acts of reading and writing are dynamically woven together, as