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In this ethnographic study of the teaching of writing, Karen Surman Paley reveals the social significance of first-person writing and the limitations of a popular taxonomy of composition studies. Paley looks critically at the way social constructionists have created an Other in the field of composition studies and named it expressivist.
Paley demonstrates the complexity of approaches to teaching writing through an ethnographic study of two composition faculty at Boston College, a programthat some would say is expressivist. She prompts her colleagues to consider how family experiences shape the way students feel about and treat people of races, religions, genders, and sexual preferences other than their own. Finally, she suggests to the field of composition that practitioners spend less time shoring up taxonomies of the field and more time sharing pedagogies.