Revisioning Writers' Talk

Gender and Culture in Acts of Composing

By Mary Ann Cain

Subjects: Composition And Rhetoric Studies
Series: SUNY series, Literacy, Culture, and Learning: Theory and Practice
Paperback : 9780791420768, 215 pages, March 1995
Hardcover : 9780791420751, 215 pages, March 1995

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Writing the Subject: Representations of Experiential Knowledge

What is "Social" about Social Constructivism?

Composing Ourselves as Knowers: Women Writers in a Male Tradition

The Academic Class

The Self-Directed Group

Representations of Power

Epilogue: Writing, "That Old Classic"

Works Consulted



Stressing the social dimensions of composing, this book inquires into the problems of interpreting and representing writers' talk in both academic and self directed writing groups, arguing for the value of such talk as a distinct mode of knowing that both complements and criticizes more traditional forms of inquiry. Emphasizing the role of writers' talk in shaping the text that they produce, it discusses the problem of representing and interpreting writers' talk in the context of composition studies, using feminist theoretical perspectives to illuminate the difficulty in representing the writer as a knowing subject, neither essentialist nor totally constructivist.

Revisioning Writers' Talk also investigates the idea of the social in social-constructivist theories of composing, arguing that they maintain rather than demystify hierarchies of discourse and, in turn, the subjects and objects of composing. Cain's own story of composing is told in the context of her educational experiences as a writer. Finally, the book discusses the constructions of power and authority by both academic and self-directed writing groups.

Mary Ann Cain is Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University, South Bend.


"Cain has conducted an original research project, one that made me hold my breath at times as I wondered if she would be able to complete such an unusual narrative in a believable manner. She has impressively explored an underexplored area, looking at the writing workshop to discover what is hidden, covert, or not sanctioned. This book illuminates an area that most of us take for granted, assuming we all know how workshops actually function. Her prose style is quite readable, almost bold, certainly sure." — Wendy Bishop, Florida State University