Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures: Refiguring College English Studies Expanded Edition

SKU: 0-9724772-8-4

James A. Berlin

Lauer Series in Rhetoric and Composition
Edited by Patricia Sullivan, Catherine Hobbs, Thomas Rickert, and Jennifer Bay

Information and Pricing
0-9724772-8-4 (paperback; $27.00; £17.00); © 2003 by Parlor Press. 268 pages, with illustrations, notes, bibliography, and index.

Other Formats Available
0-9724772-9-2 (hardcover; $50.00); 0-9724772-5-X (Adobe eBook; $12.00)

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*Winner of the 1998 CCCC Outstanding Book Award.


Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures is James Berlin’s most comprehensive effort to refigure the field of English Studies. Here, in his last book, Berlin both historically situates and recovers for today the tools and insights of rhetoric—displaced and marginalized, he argues, by the allegedly disinterested study of aesthetic texts in the college English department. Berlin sees rhetoric as offering a unique perspective on the current disciplinary crisis, complementing the challenging perspectives offered by postmodern literary theory and cultural studies. Taking into account the political and intellectual issues at stake and the relation of these issues to economic and social transformations, Berlin argues for a pedagogy that makes the English studies classroom the center of disciplinary activities, the point at which theory, practice, and democratic politics intersect. This new educational approach, organized around text interpretation and production—not one or the other exclusively, as before—prepares students for work, democratic politics, and consumer culture today by providing a revised conception of both reading and writing as acts of textual interpretation; it also gives students tools to critique the socially constructed, politically charged reality of classroom, college, and culture.

This new edition of Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures includes JAC response essays by Linda Brodkey, Patricia Harkin, Susan Miller, John Trimbur, and Victor J. Vitanza, as well as an afterword by Janice M. Lauer. These essays situate Berlin’s work in personal, pedagogical, and political contexts that highlight the continuing importance of his work for understanding contemporary disciplinary practice.

About the Author

James A. Berlin began his teaching career in elementary schools in Flint and Detroit, Michigan. After earning a Ph.D. in Victorian litera-ture at the University of Michigan, he became assistant professor of composition at Wichita State University. While there, he served as first director of the Kansas Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. He next taught at the University of Cincinnati, where he was director of freshman English. From 1987 until his death in 1994, he was professor of English at Purdue University. Professor Berlin was author of Writing Instruction in Nineteenth-Century American Colleges (1984) and Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900-1985 (1987). His subsequent publications included Cultural Studies in the English Classroom (edited with Michael J. Vivion, 1992) as well as a number of essays on the relations of rhetoric, postmodernism, and cultural studies.

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