Writing Matters
Rhetoric in Public and Private Lives

Andrea A. Lunsford
Foreword by Caren Town

Thoughts on words, writing, and language from a leading scholar of rhetoric


"This small book delivers big ideas. The essays perturb and unsettle and spark fresh thought on a range of topics from the meaning of authority to the definition of literacy. Writing Matters is vintage Lunsford."
—Mike Rose, author of An Open Language: Selected Writings on Literacy, Learning, and Opportunities

"In Writing Matters, a set of palm-of-the-hand essays, Lunsford cogently engages the status of contemporary writing and writing instruction. Her keen insights into new rhetorics, language wars, and classroom dynamics makes for a very smart read—indeed, a must read for teachers, students, and legislators."
—Cheryl Glenn, coauthor of The Writer's Harbrace Handbook, third edition

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Anyone who laments the demise of print text would find a sympathetic listener in Andrea A. Lunsford. Anyone who bemoans the lack of respect for blogs, graphic novels, and other new media would find her no less understanding. Lunsford is at home in both camps because she sees beyond writing's ever-changing forms to the constancy of its power to "make space for human agency—or to radically limit such agency."

Lunsford is a celebrated scholar of rhetoric and composition, and many undergraduates taking courses in those subjects have used her textbooks. Here she helps us see that writing is not just a mode of communication, persuasion, and expression, but a web of meanings and practices that shape our lives. Lunsford tells how she gained a new respect for our digital culture's three v's—vocal, visual, verbal—while helping design and teach a course in multimedia writing. On the importance of having a linguistically pluralistic society, Lunsford draws links between such varied topics as the English Only movement, language extinction, Ebonics, and the text messaging shorthand "l33t."

Lunsford has seen how words, writing, and language enforce unfair power relationships in the academy. Most classroom settings, she writes, are authority based and stress "individualism, ranking, hierarchy, and therefore—we have belatedly come to understand—exclusion." Concerned about the paucity—still—of tenured women and minority faculty, she urges schools to revisit admission and retention practices. These are tough and divisive problems, Lunsford acknowledges. Yet if we can see that writing has the power to help prolong or solve them—that writing matters—then we have a common ground.

Georgia Southern University Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Lecture Series

Page count: 112 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $29.95

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Andrea A. Lunsford is Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of English and director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. She has written or coauthored fourteen books, most recently The St. Martin's Handbook, fifth edition, and Everything's an Argument.