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Rescuing the Subject, 2nd Edition: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer
by Susan Miller
foreword by Thomas P. Miller
Southern Illinois University Press, 2004
eISBN: 978-0-8093-8873-8 | Paper: 978-0-8093-2600-6
Library of Congress Classification PE1404.M554 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 080.0420711


When it was first published in 1989, Susan Miller’s Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer established a landmark pedagogical approach to composition based on the importance of the writer and the act of writing in the history of rhetoric. Widely used as an introduction to rhetoric and composition theory for graduate students, the volume was the first winner of the W. Ross Winterowd Award from JAC and is still one of the most frequently cited books in the field.

This first paperback edition includes a new introductory chapter in which Miller addresses changes in the field since the first edition, outlines new research, and surveys positions she no longer supports. A new foreword by Thomas P. Miller assesses the proven impact of Rescuing the Subject on the field of rhetoric and composition.

Situating modern composition theory in the historical context of rhetoric, Miller notes that throughout the eighteenth century, rhetoric referred to oral, not written, discourse. By contrast, her history of rhetoric contends oral and written discourse were related from the beginning. Taking a thematic rather than chronological approach, she shows how actual acts of writing comment on both rhetoric and composition.

Miller also asserts that contemporary composition study is the necessary cultural outcome of changing conditions for producing discourse, describing the history of rhetoric as the gradual and unstable relocation of discourse in conventions that only written language can create. She maintains teachers and historians of rhetoric must recognize that the contemporary writing they analyze and teach demands their attention to a “textual rhetoric” that allows theorizing the writer as always symbolically a student of situated meanings.

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