Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures



First Advisor

John Muckelbauer


Over the last two decades, composition scholars have increasingly drawn on the discipline of Ecology and related “green” theories to suggest new topics for writing courses, new analogies or models for thinking about the teaching of writing, and new curricular goals. My contribution is to suggest the benefits of adapting a poststructural understanding of ecology that consequently calls our attention back to the material and conceptual (and otherwise institutional) conditions of possibility for the teaching of writing. After examining how composition scholars have conceptualized ecology following the so-called ecological turn in composition studies, I begin tracing the possibilities for a divergent poststructural formulation of ecology. Next, I explore that poststructural trajectory by reorienting the question of ecology into one of place and offer a series of three conceptual maps that allow a fuller articulation of the revised sense of ecology. After that, I trace a converging path, working through the familiar figure of Kenneth Burke to argue for a conception of ecology as rhetorical style. Finally, I turn my attention more explicitly onto the institutional scene of composition pedagogy in the form of an analysis of labor, which relies in part on a case study of a mid-sized comprehensive university. Ultimately, I argue that ecology, rhetorically conceived, has the potential not only for provoking thinking about the topical content or disciplinary affiliations of writing courses, but also, more broadly, for calling attention to the ways institutional practices writ large compose postsecondary institutions.


© 2010, Brian Robert Henderson