Question: For you, what is the most pressing or important issue that the field of Writing Studies is currently facing?
Amanda Presswood: Often in composition studies, we speak about the enterprise of “making meaning.” For me, composition studies is most interesting when we take up the study of imperfect meaning. In Disability Rhetoric Jay Dolmage argues that all meaning is imperfect, and when we encounter a breakdown in meaning, we should not “address it with correction or seamless substitution but with something else.” With Dolmage I find that educators should educators should use this breakdown in meaning to engage the writer in meaningful discussions about language and language use. Educators should also seek to understand what these breaks in meaning can teach us or what they reveal about writer and readerly intent. My interest in studying scholarship that grapples with the imperfect meaning comes from two key experiences in my life. In elementary school I was diagnosed with a learning disability, and as a “special needs student,” I was sent outside the classroom for separate instruction. My frustration with not being allowed to stay with “normal” students engendered my inquiry about the ways that educators can better understand and recast the needs of students who have been seen as “nonstandard”. What I see as one of the greatest concerns in our field today is how we as graduate students respond to all students work in ethical ways.
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