Complete Story


Summer 2000, pages 92-104

Distinguishing Formative and Receptive Contexts in the Disciplinary Formation of Composition Studies: A Response to Mailloux

Abstract: In his essay "Disciplinary Identities: On the Rhetorical Paths between English and Communication Studies," Steven Mailloux notes that "many compositionists in the seventies and eighties did not find it necessary to claim to be a scientific discipline" (16). I respond to this claim by focusing on the new discourse about writing that emerged in the 1970s in work by Emig, Shaughnessy, Flower & Hayes, and others. Distiniguishing between the "formative" (intellectual) contexts from which this work drew, and the "receptive" contexts in which it came to valued, used, and resonate, I show that whereas the roots of this work were almost exclusively empirical, their effects in the receptive context, including beyond the academy, were deeply rhetorical.