Joseph Harris’s Rewriting

I just finished Joseph Harris’s Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. I want so much to talk with someone about this book but haven’t found anyone yet — so I’ll talk with myself here. Why do I like this book so much? It’s not that it’s stunningly new — Harris references Elbow, for instance, and Harris’s emphasis on social construction of writing and knowledge echoes Bruffee. I guess it’s that it makes stunning turns in thinking — or, that this book is stunningly useful. You get my drift — there’s something stunning about this book, even if I can’t quite fix that stunningness precisely. By rewriting and revising familiar terms (summary becomes “coming to terms,” for instance — although that’s a simplistic take on Harris’s project), Harris helps us re-think what goes on in college writing classrooms. Or, rather, what needs to go on in writing classrooms.

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