Inside out: Getting personal about what's at stake in academic discourse.
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMy dissertation examines issues of authority and authorship in academic discourse by considering questions such as these: How does the discipline of rhetoric and composition authorize texts generated by its classic figures, professionals in the field, and students in those professionals' classrooms? How does that authorization, and the discursive practice involved in authoring and teaching it, inscribe or preserve the dominant hegemony? How might those of us dedicated to counter-hegemonic discursive and pedagogical projects review and revise the discipline's notions of what constitutes authoritative discourse? It argues that denying authors the opportunity to use their positionality and personal convictions to challenge the position and ideology of the detached, dispassionate style of academic discourse is to deny not only the experience and material conditions but also the body of the author. Such denial makes one's professional work insincere. As an antidote to such insincerity, I theorize a revised notion of academic discourse that combines the contextualizing effects of Marxist theory and feminist theories of women's autobiography with the destabilizing, subversive effects of deconstructive practice. Subsequent chapters enact the language and the method that might constitute those new practices. I examine the pedagogical implications of a deconstructive analysis of our discipline's discursive practice and map out a curriculum designed not only to teach authoritative writing but also to empower students to critique rather than reproduce dominant hegemonic discursive practices. Applying my revised notion of discursive practice to classical rhetoric, I present not only a rhetorical analysis of the textual mechanics of one of the discipline's classical texts (Gorgias, but also demonstrate of other non-academic texts and autobiographical responses call into question the authority of that text and its traditions. Finally, I examine the dissonance between academic accounts of the composing process and my own female personal experience with writing as a woman in the academy.