Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Megan Foley

Second Advisor

John Muckelbauer


Writing can be unpleasant. And most examples of good writing start from early attempts to identify a partial understanding of complex, complicated concepts that emanated from a willingness to be honest and open and smart about the surrounding world. The inception of a good text—especially when paired with the strength to fulfill an incessant, ridiculous desire to tell a truth—can produce an affected writing sample, one of purpose and presence. In the field of Composition, when instructors ask students to write and suggest they do it well, it is easy to overlook the demand that students take new risks in spite of the looming possibility of communicative failure. Academic writing discredits the personal narrative in favor of the unequivocal and favors objectivity over authorial experience. By the same token, we ask student writers to work outside of comfortable contexts and to write for an academic community to which many have not had much access. We ask them to reach deep for an evolved version of a multi-faceted writing persona that will mesh well with a field now stifled by standardization and dispassion. However, despite the persistence of standardization, content appropriation, and the delineation of proper writing form, revivalist Neo-Platonist concepts of “authentic voice” and the accompanying emphasis on truth-telling have had a resonant effect on the pedagogical practices of Composition, particularly as author-oriented texts can more adequately evolve with changing student demographics. As such, the field of Composition should embrace a return to a more writer-centric pedagogy.


© 2015, Ashley McClary