1st Edition

Writing/Disciplinarity A Sociohistoric Account of Literate Activity in the Academy

By Paul Prior Copyright 1999
    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    Over the past century, the explosive growth of scientific, technical, and cultural disciplines has profoundly affected our daily lives. However, processes of enculturation in sites such as graduate education that have helped to form these disciplines have received very limited research attention. In those sites, graduate students write diverse documents, including course papers, departmental examinations, theses and dissertations, grant and fellowship applications, and disciplinary publications. Thus, writing is one of the central domains of enculturation--an activity through which graduate students and professors display and negotiate disciplinary knowledge, genres, identities, and institutional contexts. This volume explores this intersection of writing and disciplinary enculturation through a series of ethnographic case studies. These case studies provide the most thorough descriptions available today of the lived experience of graduate seminars, combining analysis of classroom talk, students' texts and professor's written responses, institutional contexts, students' representations of their writing and its contexts, and professors' representations of their tasks and their students.

    Given the complexities that the ethnographic data displayed, the author found that conventional notions of writing as a process of transcription and of disciplines as unified discourse communities were inadequate. As such, this book also offers an in-depth exploration of sociohistoric theory in relation to writing and disciplinary enculturation. Specific case studies introduce, apply, and further elaborate notions of:
    * writing as literate activity,
    * authorship as mediated by other people and artifacts,
    * classroom tasks as speech genres,
    * enculturation as the interplay of authoritative and internally persuasive discourses, and
    * disciplinarity as a deeply heterogeneous, laminated, and dialogic process.

    This blend of research and theory should be of interest to scholars and students in such fields as writing studies, rhetoric, writing across the curriculum, applied linguistics, English for academic purposes, science and technology studies, higher education, and the ethnography of communication.

    Contents: C. Bazerman, Editor's Introduction. Preface. Part I: Introduction. Resituating the Discourse Community: A Sociohistoric Perspective. Part II: Situated Explorations of Academic Writing Tasks. Multiple Exposures: Tracing a Microhistory of Academic Writing Tasks. Making Semiotic Genres: Topics, Contextualizations, and Literate Activity in Two Seminars. Trajectories of Participation: Two Paths to the MA. Part III: Literate Activity and Mediated Authorship. Literate Activity, Scenes of Writing, and Mediated Authorship. Images of Authorship in a Sociology Research Team. Voices in the Networks: Distributed Agency in Streams of Activity. A Microhistory of Mediated Authorship and Disciplinary Enculturation: Tracing Authoritative and Internally Persuasive Discourses. Part IV: Redrawing the Maps of Writing and Disciplinarity. Laminations of Activity: Chronotopes and Lilah. Writing/Disciplinarity: A Sociohistoric Approach. Appendices: Situating the Research: Multiple Exposures of a Methodology. Conventions of Data Representation.


    Paul Prior

    "Not only is it an academic inquiry into academic enculturation, but also the author, Paul Prior, devotes a good deal of his energies to explaining his methodology....While Prior offers eight qualitative case studies of graduate students, his more significant contribution is an articulation of how writing researchers might think beyond the now familiar notion of the 'discourse community.'"
    Technical Communication Quarterly