Composition is the ethical negotiation of fantastical selves

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6 Scopus citations


This article addresses an impasse between rhetoric and composition practice and theory. On one hand, from the poststructural through the posthuman, our most vigorous theories challenge classical notions of selfhood and agency. On the other hand, from institutional assessment through writing about writing, composition’s most vigorous practices entail fairly traditional ideas about selfhood and agency. This piece crosses over the impasse by suggesting that “self ” and “agency” are vital fantasies for composition, and that negotiating these fantasies is an ethical process. At its heart, I argue, composition is any ethical, collective working out of these fantastical concepts that helps adaptive individuals more freely emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-194
Number of pages26
JournalCollege Composition and Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Agency
  • Composition studies
  • Ethics
  • The self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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