"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
"In Writing Matters, readers receive a joyous gift, the luxury of experiencing a remarkable mind at work. Lunsford recasts conceptual frameworks in encouraging us to see writing as an enabling technology. She connects important 'performance pieces' from the human landscape (orality, literacy, personal identity, culture) and helps us to think provocatively about what it really means to be human and how important it is to recognize the critical roles that writing as a technology and a tool plays in this process. We journey with her through a curious maze as she interrogates her own pathways as a person who has worked passionately as a teacher, scholar, and mentor in rhetoric, language, and composition. With her guiding hand, we walk away from this text sobered by her thinking and indeed by her conclusion that writing really does matter."
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.
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