Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Anne Frances Wysocki

Committee Members

Dennis Lynch, Valerie Laken, Alice Gillam, Donna Pasternak


Access, Arrangement, Composition, Digital, New Media, Pedagogy


Fostering access in our writing classrooms has been a centrally important goal in the field of rhetoric and composition since the social turn in the 1980s. As a means of creating classroom spaces that help students gain access to new identities and ways of being in the world, those in our discipline have long privileged pedagogies that focus on invention. This dissertation traces the work of those in diverse areas of the field in order to show our wide-spread favoring of invention (or creativity, discovery, and the "new"). Unfortunately, I argue that the attention we have paid to invention has come at the expense of attending to other aspects of the composing process in our classes. Namely, I suggest that the increasingly prominent role of invention in writing classrooms has turned our attention away from the conventions and forms of writing (considerations about arrangement, genre, structure, organization, grammar, etc.). While asking students to consider convention has largely fallen out of favor in our field, these are aspects of writing that connect us to others in real, lived communities. I suggest that viewing invention as the primary goal of writing instruction has ironically limited the kinds of access our students can experience beyond our classrooms and in the communities where they live and work. In order to better develop a social and civic sense of composing in our first-year writing classrooms, then, I argue we need to rebalance our attention between invention and convention. My dissertation uses the rhetorical office of arrangement to begin to do such work. I argue that by utilizing classical rhetorical theories of arrangement as well as work on the forms and structures of texts in the field of creative writing, we can craft arrangement-based pedagogies that better meet many of our students' needs. Most importantly, perhaps, the arrangement-based pedagogy that I propose helps us carve out a clearer sense of the social and civic qualities of writing and to foster spaces where our students can consider how writing is fundamentally a tool for responding and communicating with others.