Disciplinary Identities

Rhetorical Paths of English, Speech, and Composition

  • Author: Steven Mailloux
  • Pages: xi & 165 pp.
  • Published: 2006
  • ISBN: 9780873529747 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873529730 (Cloth)
Disciplinary Identities Cover

“This is an inventive and illuminating study that recontextualizes the postmodern and recovers striking and salient moments from the history of rhetoric and the histories of the now divided fields of English, speech, and composition.”

—Don Bialostosky, University of Pittsburgh

What are the historical relations among academic disciplines focused on oral and written rhetoric? In Disciplinary Identities, Steven Mailloux examines the formation of English literary studies, speech communication, and composition, explaining how these fields came to be shaped and separated as they are today. In so doing, Mailloux illustrates the interpretive power of a technique he calls rhetorical hermeneutics: his critical history of disciplinary formations both describes rhetoric as a topic of study and uses it as a tool for understanding how scholarship is organized professionally and politically.

Mailloux thus traces the paths taken by the topic of rhetoric as it migrates among disciplines. At the same time, he examines the tropes, arguments, narratives, and other pieces of rhetoric used by practitioners to shape disciplinary identities. Mailloux also uses rhetorical hermeneutics to explore the intersections of academic disciplines and nonacademic public spheres, moving from the role of nineteenth-century African American intellectuals in and outside the academy to that of the academic intellectual within post-September 11 cultural politics. Through multidisciplinary inquiry, Disciplinary Identities seeks to engage all teachers and scholars of the language arts in a renewed conversation about our shared history and our mutual devotion to pedagogy, criticism, history, and theory.

Steven Mailloux is professor of English, Chancellor’s Professor of Rhetoric, and director of the Critical Theory Emphasis at the University of California, Irvine. His works include Rhetorical Power (Cornell UP, 1989) and Reception Histories: Rhetoric, Pragmatism, and American Cultural Politics (Cornell UP, 1998).