Charles Bazerman’s newest book, a selection of both his published and unpublished essays from recent years, ranges from pedagogy to research to theory, exploring how all three levels are motivated by common concerns and how they are integrated through similar concepts and approaches. From this integrative perspective, Bazerman reveals his life-long inquiry into the nature of language—why it exists and what place it holds in the social world.
Presenting a powerful, action-oriented view of language that finds meaning in local circumstances and local uses, Bazerman divides his essays into four parts, beginning with an examination of the classroom experience. In describing the dynamics of the classroom and the relationship of the classroom to surrounding social arrangements, Bazerman notes how reading relates to writing, how interpersonal relations influence and structure acts of reading and writing, and how reading and writing are themselves forms of social action.
Bazerman, in parts 2 and 3, explains how larger forms of social structure are in dialectic with local acts of literacy, how experience of the world influences both everyday writing and empirically driven research, and how individuals conceive of social situations and actions to think about and plan activities. As he admittedly puzzles through conceptual obstacles, Bazerman explores many of the terms and theories evoked in rhetorical studies and provides a critical examination of the theories of James Kinneavy as well as more general thoughts on the nature of rhetorical study.
In part 4, Bazerman reinterprets the classical rhetorical concept of kairos in the light of theory and research in the social sciences, analyzes intertextuality in a scientific text, and offers a rereading of the writings of Adam Smith.
Throughout this book, Bazerman maintains that research into writing is the examination of what people do and have done, what influences what they do, and what texts do to people who write and read them. In addition, he reiterates the importance of literacy as a connecting device, essential to survival, growth, and change. Lack of literacy cuts people off from the institutions and means of life in a society.