A Rhetoric of Literate Action: Literate Action Volume 1
Charles Bazerman, University of California, Santa Barbara
Pub Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-6023547-5-3
Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse
Conditions of Use
The textbook is comprehensive, covering the rhetorical situation in depth. Many textbooks say little or nothing about kairos or intertextuality, for read more
The textbook is comprehensive, covering the rhetorical situation in depth. Many textbooks say little or nothing about kairos or intertextuality, for example, but the book offers useful ways for students to consider these concepts in reading and writing, complicating these concerns in ways composition texts often do not. The book is clearly organized, including a table of contents identifying chapters and subsections. The book includes a bibliography at the end, but an index is missing.
The information is accurate. As other reviewers have noted, many of the citations are dated; however, the book accurately represents the included concepts.
The book mentions online news sources and technology, but it doesn't dwell on the specifics which does leave room for instructors to add supplemental materials so as to extend the conversations from the textbook. Some may see the absence of social media discussions as an omission, but it may also serve as a way, again, for instructors and students to shape the course and apply the book's content to current situations.
The book may challenge first and second year students. I am considering the book for a 300-level rhetoric course, and I anticipate my students will find the textbook accessible. The book clearly imagines students as its audience, and it does offer context and definitions for the more advanced ideas. To its credit, the book also resists the heavy handed lists, charts, etc that sometimes make textbooks cumbersome.
The textbook is consistent throughout. The textbook's organization is important. Many textbooks place editing and local concerns near the end; in this case, those issues are in the end, but writers' concerns, drafting and process discussions, etc are mostly contained in the second half. The first half of the book works through how humans communicate, make meaning, and respond, keeping rhetoric in the foreground.
The book is easily adaptable. Later sections, smaller or chunkier, could be assigned before earlier sections. I see no need to assign whole chapters at a time of necessarily assign them in order. The subheadings work as dividers which could help teachers and students decide on assigned readings. The book could complement a wide variety of courses and assignments.
The book is clearly formatted, and it is organized into chapters with subheadings. Much of the first half is spent explaining making meaning, rhetoric, and so on. Many instructors and students may be used to books leading with some process guidance, but this text places that information after thoroughly exploring the concepts that shape writing.
The books is easy to use. The bolded chapter and subheading titles make navigation simple and straightforward. It is text on a page, so it doesn't contain visuals.
Clean and easy to read. I detect no problems.
The book uses examples of public and "real world" writing. It does not address race or ethnicity directly, so instructors may need to guide students when the book does discuss power structures in bureaucracies and other institutions. This aspect of the book likely needs supplemented with additional resources, readings, and examples. As a strength, the book is unoffensive and should allow for instructors and students to explore rhetoric in many different contexts.
The book is flexible, supporting a wide variety of explorations and assignments, and the coverage is rich enough to support an upper division course. I am excited to test this textbook, paired with some academic and public writing, with students.
The book covers nearly all aspects of writing as a process: the deeply seated psychological and social entanglements of wrestling with language in read more
The book covers nearly all aspects of writing as a process: the deeply seated psychological and social entanglements of wrestling with language in its graphic forms. As such, the chapters on genre, writing's effects, and its uses are key points to help frame the later perspectives about invention and revision. What you won't find, by design, is the standard focus on form. Bazerman looks at the processes of writing resolutely and offers a sort of anti-textbook that eschews the models, forms, and fill-in-the-blank prescriptions of many market publications.
This book is highly accurate and informed by decades of research into the writing process. Again, its accuracy may not make it easy to teach with unless the instructor also has some advanced insight into composition research and theory. However, Bazerman remains highly accurate and can even do so while making the content understandable to an audience of students.
This is cutting-edge stuff for composition teaching, especially for the more advanced composition courses Bazerman signals his book is for. It is highly relevant given its basis in research and its approach to talking with students about advanced ways of thinking about writing. This is the foundation of modern composition since about 1963 and so Bazerman balances that persistent perspective with updated and updatable information out of psychology, sociology, and other areas informing composition research.
One of the most remarkable features of this book is its clarity and attention to its audience. The author clearly has students in mind and finds brilliant metaphors and literate illustrations to make his pedagogical points clear to students. This may throw some instructors who might have learned from and/or expect the more formula- and model-based approaches emphasizing skillful repetition and mastery of form. However, even instructors who might be unfamiliar with Bazerman's approach can find this book useful.
The book does a great job of being consistent, not only because of the design features (subheadings, bullet points, etc.) but also in terms of consistently bridging the gaps between "common parlance" or colloquial understandings and the more technical and appropriate terms. For example, the section on coherence points to real specifics whereas many students (and instructors) might just simply say "my paper doesn't flow."
This is another great feature I may even use myself for some lessons. The subheadings within chapters allow for a great deal of modularity and can explain fundamental concepts quite well in a wide variety of contexts and/or classrooms. Moreover, they aren' overly long, nor are they so short they loose all functional use. They are just right!
The logic and structure seem appropriate. Perhaps it doesn't need to start with the earliest histories of rhetoric, but then those terms do frame the subsequent content and theoretical lenses. This volume ends sort of in the middle with "emergent text" so the second volume may come to a more fitting conclusion.
The interface of this text is quite clear and easy to read. The subheadings are clearly contrasted with the main textual paragraphs and bulleted lists and other design features allow for easy reading and recall as to where to find information.
Impeccable grammar and style is used throughout the book.
The book doesn't go out of its way, like some, to promote a sense of cultural diversity, though it does routinely deal with common civic situations, mentioning CEOs, city council deliberations, and other instances where rhetoric is needed. Even in its short history of rhetoric or its awareness of global communication systems, non-European rhetorics are not treated. While this may be a drawback, it can be easily fixed in a later edition.
I like this book a great deal for a course in advanced writing. It may need some supplement in terms of cultural examples and non-Western perspectives, but it does a great job focusing student attention on and explaining the importance of the processes of writing and how those are not codified, but open to invention each and every time one sits down to write. At first I thought the self-imposed limitation to literate writing was a wrong approach in the 21st century, but as I read through the book, I came to see the wisdom in thinking only on that as a sort of approach that might lead toward digital writing and design later on. In that way, this book is "basic," but only basic for students who want to explore writing more deeply rather than just copy forms and follow prescriptions!
This book takes an expansive look at the function of writing in our lives, encompassing everything from business forms, such as driver's license read more
This book takes an expansive look at the function of writing in our lives, encompassing everything from business forms, such as driver's license applications, to doctoral dissertations.
The content of this book is impeccably accurate, informed by the author's long academic career and consideration of the topic over time.
Because of its sweep, the purview of this book is not bound by technology; it takes in low tech (pen on paper) and high tech (computer aided) composing. Keeping the high-tech component relevant and lively with current examples in such a rapidly evolving environment will require some attention.
This text does depend some on the vocabulary of rhetoric, but is not so heavy handed as to be inaccessible to most writers; it is not bound only to the scholar writing.
Throughout this text, the author weaves threads of concepts and terminology across varied contexts which give it cohesion. It does seem to have two distinctive sections (although not indicated overtly): the first part focuses more theoretically on how language creates meaning; the latter part of the book on more practical matters for the writer--process and revision.
The sectioning in this text lends itself well to short-reading sessions; most titled passages are less than five pages long. Nor would the text necessarily need to be read strictly in the order it is written, although there is a progression of thought which might be missed, especially in the first three quarters of the book, if taken too much out of sequence.
The structure is sensible; it flows from the role of writing in understanding and conveying meaning (the WHAT) to more practical matters of construction (the HOW).
This book is clear. It is easy to jump forward or backwards to specific pages, especially after adjusting to the 10 pages difference in the PDF page number and the printed number on the page. The ability to expand in the size of the font is helpful to the weary-eyed reader.
Very few proofreading errors.
Nothing in this book seems offensive to any particular group of people. It includes examples from a variety of writing situations many of which are faced by most people in everyday life, but doesn't seem to make a particular effort to include a wide range of different socioeconomic scenarios probably because the content does not lend itself to such an approach.
This seems an appropriate text for a graduate, or perhaps even upper division undergraduate, course in rhetoric, as well as for anyone seeking to understand the expanse of influence writing has in meaning making and social interaction.
The text is comprehensive in its coverage of rhetorical situations, including why and how one writes with the emphasis placed on context. However, it read more
The text is comprehensive in its coverage of rhetorical situations, including why and how one writes with the emphasis placed on context. However, it does not include extensive information on rhetorical appeals directly, other than kairos. There is no glossary or index, although the chapter divisions are detailed in the contents pages.
The information presented is accurate, but the references are a little out-of-date. That being said, the information takes a unique, and refreshing look at writing and why one writes that has not been referenced recently. Other than moving writing instruction away from formulaic processes, there is no bias apparent in the text.
The text is greatly relevant to writing studies and helpful to students writing in any academic subject and/or genre. Any necessary updates regarding new information (e.g. digital rhetoric) could easily be made, for example, throughout the chapters on genre and forms.
The text's prose is appropriately written for upper division students. Incoming college freshmen may have difficulty with the language. Any unknown terminology is defined through the author’s context and should not create problems of understanding for higher-level college students.
The focus of and terminology in the text is consistent. The author provides examples of written rhetoric and suggestions on how to rhetorically write in different genres and modes without losing sight of a rhetor’s reason for writing.
The text can easily be adapted to fit into one’s course. The subchapters are relatively short but instructive. There are some moments of self-reference, but they do not hinder the reader’s understandings. There are even some subchapters that are exceptionally useful to first year college students, though some time may have to be taken in explication.
The text begins on a broad, general level and then becomes more specific into reasoning and, finally, practice. It is logical and clear for a text; however, some students may need portions of the final four chapters earlier.
There are no interface problems, largely due to the fact that there are no images, charts, or other interesting visuals and/or formatting.
The text appears to have very few, minor grammar errors.
The text is inclusive of all readerships. The newspaper examples and references to muses may be outdated. Many examples reference corporate environments, political/legal, and/or community based writing.
This is a great text to supplement a broader text with to explain the why behind rhetoric and communication. It provides detailed, logical information about spatial, temporal, and social understandings of writing.
Table of Contents
- Front Matter
- Chapter 1. Rhetorics of Speaking and Writing
- Chapter 2. Knowing Where You Are: Genre
- Chapter 3. When You Are
- Chapter 4. The World of Texts: Intertextuality
- Chapter 5. Changing the Landscape: Kairos, Social Facts, and Speech Acts
- Chapter 6. Emergent Motives, Situations, Forms
- Chapter 7. Text Strategics
- Chapter 8. Emergent Form and the Processes of Forming Meaning
- Chapter 9. Meanings and Representations
- Chapter 10.Spaces and Journeys for Readers: Organization and Movement
- Chapter 11. Style and Revision
- Chapter 12. Managing Writing Processes and the Emergent Text
About the Book
The first in a two-volume set, A Rhetoric of Literate Action is written for "the experienced writer with a substantial repertoire of skills, [who] now would find it useful to think in more fundamental strategic terms about what they want their texts to accomplish, what form the texts might take, how to develop specific contents, and how to arrange the work of writing." The reader is offered a framework for identifying and understanding the situations writing comes out of and is directed toward; a consideration of how a text works to transform a situation and achieve the writer's motives; and advice on how to bring the text to completion and "how to manage the work and one's own emotions and energies so as to accomplish the work most effectively."
About the Contributors
Charles Bazerman, Professor of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of numerous research articles and books on the social role of writing, academic genres, and textual analysis, as well as textbooks on the teaching of writing.