Notes: Russel K. Durst, “Writing at the Postsecondary Level”

Durst, Russel K. “Writing at the Postsecondary Level.” In Peter Smagorinsky (ed.) Research on Writing. NY: Teacher College Press, 2006: 78-107.


Durst walks through major methodological/epistemic shifts in writing research from the positivists in the 1950s-1960s through to the “social turn” in composition studies in more recent years.

Keywords: Disciplinarity, Disciplinary History, Composition, Writing Studies, Methodology


Curtis, M. & Herrington, A. “Writing Development in the College Years: By Whose Definition?” CCC 55 (2003): 69-90.

Haggerty, G. C. & Zimmerman, B. Profession of Desire: Lesbian and Gay Studies in Literature. NY: MLA (1995).

Smith, J. “Students’ goals, Gatekeeping, and Some Questions of Ethics.” CCC 48 (1997):299-320.

Spurlin W. (Ed.) Lesbian and Gay Studies and the Teaching of English. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2000.


“These discussions tend to describe the field of composition studies since the early 1980s as moving its focus from a cognitive examination of process to a more social, ethnographic, and political examination of context. This way of discussing “the social turn,” as the move to examine context generally is known in composition studies, is, in my view, an oversimplification” (79).

“These studies position the student in a first-year writing course not as disadvantaged, but rather as a somewhat privileged middle-class person in need of greater awareness about social inequities and improved ways of critiquing dominant discourse for the purpose of uncovering such inequities and helping to effect change” (84).

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