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Working Knowledge: Composition and the Teaching of Professional Writing

Grace, Jean A. (2008) Working Knowledge: Composition and the Teaching of Professional Writing. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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WORKING KNOWLEDGE: COMPOSITION AND THE TEACHING OF PROFESSIONAL WRITINGJean A. Grace, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2008The curricular and research project called professional writing in the academy is currently held at some remove from the institution. This dissertation argues for a reconsideration of professional writing as advanced composition, a move that can invigorate both composition studies and the teaching of professional writing. I argue that professional writing, an area of instruction that developed alongside composition in the 19th and 20th centuries, can benefit from an infusion of the theory that shapes some of the notable trends in composition studies today. Doing so makes possible a professional writing pedagogy that is centered on students and student writing, that offers a rich understanding of the writing process and the ways that writing works, that explores intertextuality, and that allows student writers to connect with what can be at stake for professional writers. In return, the teaching of professional writing offers space to think through some of the current tensions in composition, such as the continuing resistance to teaching what some see as service courses. The teaching of professional writing—as advanced composition rather than as a course that is only connected with preparation for the workforce—is one path toward defining and enacting the relevance of composition studies and can allow the field of composition studies to carve out an interesting and rich area of work and inquiry at the undergraduate level. By offering a study of the textual presence of 19th and 20th century business and technical writing textbooks in the U.S., this dissertation documents the remarkable stability of some moves in the teaching of professional writing. I argue that textbooks are significant artifacts that both represent and shape ways of approaching the teaching of professional writing. This study also discusses persistent tensions in composition studies that tend to marginalize professional writing and explores the ways in which some prominent features of current composition theory and practice can productively inform the teaching of professional writing. Finally, the dissertation explores the implications of the preceding chapters for defining a pedagogy of professional writing and for creating and administering a professional writing program.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Grace, Jean A.jgrace@pitt.eduJGRACE
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCarr, Jean Fergusonjcarr@pitt.eduJCARR
Committee MemberBartholomae, Davidbarth@pitt.eduBARTH
Committee MemberGarman, Noreenngarman@pitt.eduNGARMAN
Committee MemberKameen, Paulpkameen@pitt.eduPKAMEEN
Date: 12 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 31 March 2008
Approval Date: 12 June 2008
Submission Date: 14 February 2008
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: business writing; composition; curriculum; nineteenth and twentieth century textbooks; pedagogy; professional writing; service; technical writing; writing program administration; textual presence
Other ID:, etd-02142008-114628
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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