“What Does It Mean To Be Able To Write?”


This question, the title of a 1983 essay by the rhetorician Susan Miller, is one that, as a person who teaches writing and who studies writing practices, I think about a lot.     One of the most interesting things about this question is, of course, the fact that the answer necessarily changes over time.  What it meant “to be able to write” in 1850 is not identical to what it means “to be able to write” in 2016.  As a result, methods of and ideas about teaching writing also change.  The rhetoric surrounding the teaching of writing and how the act of writing is conceptualized also change.  In an ongoing attempt to document some of the changes in the rhetoric surrounding conceptions of writing, I plan to post some current and historical artifacts related to that topic.  Today, I am posting an image of the cover for the 2006 Routledge edition of Pierre Machery’s 1966 book A Theory of Literary Production, the cover for the original English edition of the book published in 1978 by Routledge & Kegan Paul, and the cover of an early French edition of the book.