Resisting Writings (and the Boundaries of Composition)

Southern Methodist University Press, 1994

My first book for an audience of compositionists grew out of my dissertation. While dated in some respects (the internet had yet to redesign our psyches when I wrote it; we were still talking about hypertext then), I stand by the general premise in this volume: that the teaching of writing ought to be deeply cross-cultural, multimedia, and above all, experimental. The book ends with a series of proposals for new curricula that, as a doctoral student in the late 80s, I was eager to see realized in the University.


(from the jacket blurb:)

What do H.D., John Cage, Gertrude Stein, Susan Howe, Howlin' Wolf, Public Enemy, and the French Oulipo movement have to do with the teaching of writing? Everything, Derek Owens argues in this ambitious and eclectic rethinking of composition studies. This timely analysis will be of interest not only to those involved with the teaching of composition, but also to those interested in rhetoric, literature, and creative writing, as well as in feminist and cross-cultural studies. Rather than condemning either academic or "expressive" discourse, Owens proposes to overlap the worlds of composition and poetics and to teach writing from a perspective inclusive of feminist, non-Eurocentric, and experimental ways of making discourse. Owens advocates a pluralistic tolerance for radically conflicting writing philosophies throughout the university. This pragmatic work begins with analyses of experimental expository prose (H.D., William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, John Cage, Alan Davies), avant-garde feminist poetics (Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Susan Howe, Madeline Gins, Nicole Brossard), African American discourse ("nommo" to blues, jazz to rap), hypertext, and other innovative discourse influences, ending with a series of proposals intended for teachers, theorists, graduate students, and administrators concerned with the teaching of writing and literature, as well as with writing program and writing across the curriculum design. "No one who reads this book will ever return to teaching composition in the same old way without at least a twinge of guilt." -- Gary Tate. Southern Methodist University Press, 1994.