Rhetorics for Community Action

Rhetorics for Community Action : Public Writing and Writing Publics

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Offering both theoretical analysis and classroom advice, Rhetorics for Community Action: Public Writing and Writing Publics, by Phyllis Mentzell Ryder, is a guide to studying and teaching public writing. The book shows how public groups embed competing democratic ideals into the rhetorical structures of their texts, how they work with and against traditional media to spread those ideals, and how teachers can partner with community organizations and support students as they practice public writing in all its complexity.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 325 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 680.39g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739137662
  • 9780739137666
  • 1,712,653

Review quote

Rhetorics for Community Action is uniquely positioned in the untapped intellectual space between public-writing theory and service learning pedagogy. It is the only book I know of that offers such a cogent and detailed analysis of nonprofit community organizations-and their acts of public writing-as sites of rhetorical and ideological struggle. The many connections between community and classroom in this book are seamless and utterly essential. Rhetorics for Community Action keeps at its core a desire to make the many 'publics' in which Phyllis Mentzell Ryder and her students work better places. It is that clear but quiet sense of justice-along with its theoretical sharpness-that makes this book vital for anyone involved in public rhetoric, public writing or service learning. I think anyone contemplating a service-learning connection in a writing course should be required to read it. -- Paula Mathieu, Boston College An imporant reminder-and nuanced analysis-of the possibilities and pitfalls of what can happen when we take public writing as the central mission of our pedagogy and profession. -- Steve Parks, Syracuse University There aren't many times I could honestly say that I had trouble putting an academic book down, but that has been the case with Rhetorics for Community Action. In it, Ryder asks us to rethink both how we talk about public rhetoric and what we mean when we say we are preparing writers for an active role in a democratic society. Whose democracy? Which public? What action? Ryder does not offer simple answers. Instead she asks readers to re-examine their own reasons for and uses of public rhetoric in the writing class. Hers is an important book, one I believe every scholar of Public Rhetoric needs to read. -- Diana George, Virginia Tech Ryder is an astute guide to the theory and politics of public writing. First she gives us an intellectual framework for locating our own pedagogy within competing visions of democracy and the discourse of public work each privileges. Then she demonstrates a new way to read the public discourse of nonprofits, counterpublics, journalism, and new media-from the grounded perspective of community action and the rhetorical challenges of the homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and youth centers where students volunteer. In Phyllis Ryder's engaged pedagogy, it is asking why that leads a writer to how as she draws us into this expansive, unruly world of public writing. -- Linda Flower, Carnegie Mellon After looking at this book's table of contents, this reviewer headed straight for the appendixes, which offer practical guidelines and writing assignments, to see whether Ryder (George Washington Univ.) attaches to her theories surrounding the politics of public writing something the public can actually use. Answer: yes!--and not just in that supplemental material at the back of the book. To be sure, Ryder's explorations of some issues could be more succinct, but one is not likely to protest because she brings a range of experiences and resources to her analysis of the rhetorical challenges inherent in the leap from academic to public writing. Ryder urges her readers to think carefully about how they approach public action, and her suggestions about how to do that make sense. Throughout, she is articulate and engaging. The argument is not for everyone, though. For the most part, the author aims her rationale and methodology for preparing students in the classroom to communicate with the community at those who direct service-learning programs, certainly a growing audience but a relatively targeted one nonetheless. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, professionals. CHOICE Ryder undertakes to offer a "useful theory of how people come together to form publics and the rhetorical moves they draw on in their public writing" (12), with "writing" defined broadly to include not just articles and speeches but, for example, tweets and social protests, both of which are specifically addressed in the book. Rhetoric Review Rhetorics for Community Action is for the "activist educators" teaching university service-learning courses and more generally for people wanting to teach, practice, and promote "public writing". Ryder lays a foundation for analyzing and producing public writing and public writing pedagogy by creating a matrix of theories on democracy. Ryder's book goes farther than to take exception to the idealization. It unfolds the way we may think more usefully about a concept like "the public" by exploring the rhetoric of subpublics, smaller publics whose values align with the idealized public sphere. A particular significant contribution of this book, in our view, is how gracefully and skillfully it models an authorial voice and stance not often to be found in academic writing. It is a voice not of the one-who-knows-and-is-demonstrating-the-point but instead the voice, we might say, of praxis-the voice of someone who is posing problems for herself and with her readers that have arisen from her actions and experiences in the world and her reflection upon them. It is the voice of one not content to offer "findings" or to unfold theory for others to "apply". It is the voice of the living committed teacher in action. Ryder seamlessly moves from sophisticated, yet clear, theoretical discussion to implications for pedagogy, ending nearly each chapter with a section titled "What Does This Mean For a Public Writing Course?" To provide her readers with tools to enact this change, the book ends not with calls for further research but with materials that have practical pertinence...the materials are clearly to be taken not as an ending but as a platform for further conversation about what we must, or might, do Rhetoric Reviewshow more

About Phyllis Mentzell Ryder

Phyllis Mentzell Ryder is associate professor of writing at the George Washington University.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Dedication Chapter 2 Acknowledgments Chapter 3 Table of Contents Chapter 4 List of Figures Chapter 5 Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 6 Chapter 2: Publics Worth Studying Chapter 7 Chapter 3: Public Writing with Community Organizations Chapter 8 Chapter 4: The Public of Traditional Media: Circulating Deliberative Conversations Chapter 9 Chapter 5: Counterpublics: Beyond Deliberative Conversation Chapter 10 Chapter 6: Circulating Counterpublic Rhetoric Chapter 11 Chapter 7: Publics 2.0: Public Formation through Social Networking Chapter 12 Chapter 8: Teaching Public Writing in Academic Settings Chapter 13 Appendix 1: Some Practical Guidelines Chapter 14 Appendix 2: Sample Writing Assignments Chapter 15 Appendix 3: Sample Community Partner Profiles Chapter 16 Referencesshow more

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