Role of Students in the History of Composition

The first part of this study establishes the economic workings of Composition, (and how student desire for writing and writing instruction is subsumed and made into academic capital) and then proceeds into an extended critique of fours histories of Composition (North, Connors, Harris, and Berlin). It then uses the concept of student desire to explore the four histories. The second part examines the problems of pedagogical eros and how the subject, (like the student) is further disempowered by a dialectical construction of language. The third part illustrates a course the author helped devise, which used student desire as a jump-off point for first year writing courses. This study will be of interest to both scholars and teachers of Composition.


“… offers a compelling critique of composition from a vital, evolving theoretical standpoint that acknowledges and accommodates student desire as a primary cultural force driving the discipline…. He reveals how student desires and voice are sometimes overwritten by academic discourses. Hoogeveen demonstrates how these discourses constitute and perpetuate existing power structures…. The classroom discussion is an important teaching and learning tool in composition…. Hoogeveen offers the composition teacher some enlightening food for thought…. opens a dialogue in the recent history of composition. His disruption to that totalizing narrative is a challenge to the status quo, specifically to those power structures that dislocate student desire and subsume the fundamental aspect of the person that distinguishes good writing – the voice of change.” – John Jacob, West Virginia University

“Dr. Hoogeveen’s history asks fundamental questions about the discipline of Composition, questions that could be asked of any discipline’s history. He inquires into the roles of the field’s leading theorists, daily practitioners, and finally, of students and their connection to culture…. Careful analysis of the economy of Composition shows that it is the errant student, that one who does not fit in or the one who questions the plan, who is brought into the light and interrogated. Out of this questioning, Dr. Hoogeveen shows, knowledge emerges, and as all academics know, such knowledge accrues the individual a certain measure of disciplinary captital.“ – Elizabeth A. Holtry, Mount St. Mary’s College

“Hoogeveen’s history ‘takes off’ in an exciting new direction. The selections are interesting and relevant as they acknowledge students’ desire to express themselves and to explore ideas they hold and ideas they may embrace as they mature. The selections represent current writing as well as few more traditional essays. All selections are designed to encourage students of all abilities to think and to write…. I recommend this groundbreaking anthology to all those who would have their students write meaningful compositions.” – Marie Nigro, Lincoln University

“This is a stimulating book that challenges the self-satisfaction of some of the pet theories and movements in Composition. Hoogeveen points out the complacent pitfalls in accepted methodologies, and reminds us that students should be the center of our pedagogy – not our egos.” – Joseph Zeppetello, Writing Program Director, Marist College

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Part One: An analysis of Recent Texts
1. Susan Wells and the Case of Andrea: An Overview and Analysis of Composition’s Economy
2. Stephen North and the Foundations of Historicization
3. Robert Connors and the concept of Abolitionism
4. Joseph Harris and Internal Concepts
5. James Berlin and Progressivist Suspicion
Part Two: sounding Student Desire
6. Uttering Desire and Power
7. Student Desire and the Problems of Power
8. Disintegrating the (Disciplinary) Dialectic
Part Three: Enacting Desire
9. Desire as a Classroom Practice
Bibliography; Index