Read more about Beyond Argument: Essaying as a Practice of (Ex)Change

Beyond Argument: Essaying as a Practice of (Ex)Change

(8 reviews)

Sarah Allen, University of Northern Colorado

Copyright Year: 2015

ISBN 13: 9781602356474

Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse

Language: English

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Reviewed by Karen Margolis, Adjunct Professor, Portland State University on 3/25/20

I was drawn to this book because I believe that students flourish when they begin to see that writing is a process, one that can be used as a vehicle to explore their own thinking. Like Allen, I believe that there is no other form that models... read more

Reviewed by Tammy Jabin, English Instructor, Chemeketa Community College on 5/26/19

I love the focus of this book on reclaiming the personal essay in first year composition, on discourse communities, voice, and contact zones. I agree that a return to more personal essays will help us to meet our goals for our students. But as... read more

Reviewed by Jennifer Derrick, Instructor, Lake Superior College on 8/2/18

I selected this book because at a recent professional development event a colleague and I were talking about using essays as the primary reading content for an introductory college writing class. Sarah Allen’s text went above and beyond what I... read more

Reviewed by Lance Cummings, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington on 5/21/18

I don't really see this book being a textbook for too many courses. Its purview is very narrow. I imagine this being used for a graduate course in composition theory. Theoretically, it is very comprehensive, but graduate students would also be... read more

Reviewed by Kelsey Kerr, Adjunct Professor, American University on 2/1/18

The book is fairly comprehensive in covering the topic. It especially focuses on voice, how to cultivate that and to reach others, which is so important in crafting any essay that involves the personal. It especially focuses on what students tend... read more

Reviewed by Julie Daniels, Instructor, Century College on 4/11/17

This book, designed for teachers of writing or graduate students preparing to teach, provides a lovely collection of student writing produced in response to the professor's assignments. The range of personal essays is relatively wide. I would have... read more

Reviewed by Jamalieh Haley, Adjunct Professor, Portland Community College on 12/5/16

The book thoroughly explores personal essay writing, drawing on modern philosophy and theory, including Elbow, Bartholomae, Foucault, Montaigne, Bishop, Didion, etc. Allen divides the subject into parts relevant to her argument: real self,... read more

Reviewed by Gianina Coturri Sorenson, Senior Teaching Assistant, University of North Carolina at Greensboro on 12/5/16

Allen's book appropriately covers the theoretical underpinnings of her essay-writing stance. She consistently moves from broad arguments (eg, the schism between academics and "the real world"; essays and poststructuralism) to how those issues... read more

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Meeting the Real Self in the Essay
  • Chapter Two: Meeting the Constructed Self in the Essay
  • Chapter Three: Cultivating a Self in the Essay
  • Chapter Four: Imitation as Meditation
  • Chapter Five: Self Writing in the Classroom
  • Works Cited

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  • About the Book

    Beyond Argument offers an in-depth examination of how current ways of thinking about the writer-page relation in personal essays can be reconceived according to practices in the care of the self — an ethic by which writers such as Seneca, Montaigne, and Nietzsche lived. This approach promises to reinvigorate the form and address many of the concerns expressed by essay scholars and writers regarding the lack of rigorous exploration we see in our students' personal essays — and sometimes, even, in our own. In pursuing this approach, Sarah Allen presents a version of subjectivity that enables productive debate in the essay, among essays, and beyond.

    About the Contributors


    Sarah Allen is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO, where she serves as a Rhetoric and Composition scholar and teacher. Her work has been published in Rhetoric Review and in Educational Philosophy and Theory; she also has book chapters in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing (Parlor Press) and in Research Writing Revisited: A Sourcebook for Teachers (Heinemann). Her scholarship generally explores the ethics of the personal essay, and this work informs her teaching, as she works to discover the most useful and effective ways of assisting students in engaging with difficult, dense material and in generating complex, rigorous writings of their own.

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