Rhetoric & Writing Studies is . . .

As a discipline, Rhetoric & Writing Studies (RWS) is interested in such issues as

  • all semiotic systems, e.g., situated discourse, used purposefully

  • materiality, relationships, and people's discursive and non-discursively constructed realities

  • processes of knowledge construction

  • interpretation and meaning-making

  • histories of rhetoric, writing, and/or pedagogy

  • constructed communities, institutions, cultures and their interactions, or lack thereof

  • social, political, local, and global action

  • difference as asset

  • justice, power relations, and how people are simultaneously subjects and subjected

  • persuasion, argument, silence, deliberation, and negotiation

  • technology and media

  • writing (composing and composition), in all senses of the word

  • world Englishes

  • students, learning, and teachers

Rhetoric & Writing Studies is effectively a metadiscipline. Its subsequent advantages point to the breadth of potential in objects of study. But this can also be a disadvantage, particularly for initiates to the discipline, who may enter with the belief that they can "plug" any interest they have into RWS and have it fly, so to speak. That is, they may fail to understand that the discipline must be studied and learned, so that the particular interest can be effectively situated within the RWS domain.


As a metadiscipline, RWS scholarship is also pertinent for many other domains, in that the very nature of our disciplinary domain often has us investigating questions also asked in these other domains. We also look afield to the scholarship of other disciplines when we believe that such scholarship can enrich our perspective. This point was elegantly argued many years ago by Janice Lauer in her seminal article, "Dappled Discipline" (Rhetoric Review, 3.1, 1984).