Notes: Neal Lerner, “Writing is a Way of Enacting Disciplinarity”

Lerner, Neal. (2015). Writing is a way of enacting disciplinarity. In Linda Adler-Kassner & Elizabeth Wardle (eds.) Naming what we know: Threshold concepts of writing studies. Logan: Utah State University Press, 40-41.


Lerner states that the writing that occurs within a given discipline evokes and invokes a set of disciplinary values and boundaries, and that the writers of that discipline at a given time are (re)creating those values each time they compose. In this way, writing is the enactment of the discipline’s values, both in its communication of ideas within its field and reproducing its values in a given text.

Keywords: citations, composition, disciplinarity, genre, threshold concepts, writing studies


Connors, Robert J. (1999). The rhetoric of citation systems: Part 2, competing epistemic values in citation. Rhetoric Review, 17(2), 219-45.

Hyland, Ken. (1999). Academic attribution: Citation and the construction of disciplinary knowledge. Applied Linguistics, 20(3), 341-67.


“In sum, the relationship between disciplinary knowledge making and the ways writing and other communicative practices create and communicate that knowledge are at the heart of what defines particular disciplines” (40).

“On a larger discursive level, any disciplinary genre speaks to the process by which members of a discipline shape, make distinct, and value its forms and practices of knowledge creation and communication, and these processes, in turn, are shaped by the histories of those genres” (41).


In what ways is the enactment of disciplines in writing performative? How can we make student writers aware of the histories they enact when they write in a given genre to make aware the tacit expectation of the rhetorical situation in which they are writing?

Are disciplinary boundaries only fluid insofar as the (en)actors choose to evoke or communicate within them? Is what is created by this fluidity an evolution of a genre, a hybridity, or a new genre altogether? How might these transgressive texts communicate to their intended disciplines?

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