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Revising the Essay: Intellectual Arenas and Hybrid Forms

Lockhart, Tara (2008) Revising the Essay: Intellectual Arenas and Hybrid Forms. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation charts the theoretical, pedagogical, and rhetorical possibilities of the essay in order to argue for essay writing as a central intellectual pursuit within the university. Although the term "essay" has often functioned as a placeholder for many types of writing and has been used to promote narrow, sometimes formulaic, writing, I articulate the ways that the essay illustrates thinking on the page and fosters genuine intellectual activity. This study thereby enriches theoretical scholarship on the essay, offers pedagogies that support critical essay-writing, and contends that we imagine both students and scholars as connected through the shared "intellectual arena" the essay creates. I coin the term "essayistic impetus" - an epistemological drive toward critical and reflexive knowledge via thinking in and through writing - to define the essay's guiding principle. The theory of the essay I construct spans several types of materials, all of which have been under-theorized within scholarship on the essay in composition studies: theories of essayistic prose authored by Theodor Adorno and M.M. Bakhtin; new critical textbooks by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren; the hybrid prose essays of Joan Didion and Gloria AnzaldĂșa; the photographic essay After the Last Sky co-authored by Edward Said and Jean Mohr; and, finally, essay films by Chris Marker and Wong Kar-wai. The later chapters of the dissertation focus specifically on hybrid essays - essays which draw on multiple genres and discourses, formal structures, and media. I argue that hybrid essays offer a particularly fruitful understanding of the essay, its goals, and its intellectual possibilities. Since hybrid essays present a range of rhetorical strategies and styles of writing, they can assist students in strengthening their repertoires as both readers and writers capable of sustaining complex, dialogic, reflexive inquiries and projects. Reading and writing hybrid essays, I contend, aids students in developing greater generic, stylistic, and rhetorical awareness, strategies which they can then effectively deploy for their own diverse purposes. Finally, I argue that hybrid essays can serve as a productive heuristic for better confronting and understanding the literacy demands that complex, emerging new media forms demand.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBartholomae, Davidbarth@pitt.eduBARTH
Committee MemberBialostosky, Dondhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberRoyster, Jacqueline
Committee MemberSalvatori,
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduGLAZENER
Date: 30 October 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 12 June 2008
Approval Date: 30 October 2008
Submission Date: 22 July 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: composition theory and pedagogy; essay films; first-year writing; hybrid essays; literacy studies; multi-genre essays; new media composition; photographic essays; reading
Other ID:, etd-07222008-182436
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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