Justin Rademaekers

Rhetoric for the disciplines: A theory of writing and language instruction for students of interdisciplinary and applied sciences

Justin Rademaekers

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2014 pp: 191
  • Advisor: Johnson-Sheehan, Richard
  • Source: DAI-A 76/02(E)
  • Subjects: Language, literature and linguistics; Communication and the arts; Education; Composition pedagogy; Environmental rhetoric; Interdisciplinary; Science writing; Writing across the curriculum; Writing in the disciplines; Pedagogy; Communication; Rhetoric;
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1780338811
  • ISBN: 9781321181364
  • UMI Number: AAT 3636494

Abstract:

As academic disciplines have advanced the integration of disciplines interdisciplinary collaborative structures have become increasingly important and desired. In particular, wholly interdisciplinary disciplines such as environmental science have developed representing a growing class of emergent sciences. Yet interdisciplinary work presents some very real challenges to cherished academic traditions, including the way writing and communication in and across the disciplines are taught. A primary challenge is that interdisciplinary work is entangled in social, political, and public concerns, and greatly distanced from the ideals of an imagined fundamental and apolitical science. This dissertation presents research on some of the common communicative barriers that emerge when professionals from divergent disciplines collaborate to address applied public concerns, such as sustainability. Some of the primary barriers that emerge in interdisciplinary work include discrepancies rooted in divergent disciplinary frameworks, divergent methodological frameworks, divergent beliefs about the social context of research, disagreements regarding disciplinary terminology, and inequities rooted in the design and management of collaborations. A central cause of these communicative barriers that emerge in interdisciplinary work is the absence of a rhetorical dialogue. Without a rhetorical dialogue, this dissertation shows, collaborators act more or less within their own disciplinary framework, which impedes the ability to collaborate effectively. This dissertation contributes to ongoing work in disciplinary writing research by revealing how cherished practices in Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) may serve to reinforce disciplinary assumptions that impede interdisciplinary work. This dissertation concludes with suggestions for utilizing existing rhetorical theories such as activity systems theory, conceptual metaphor theory, genre awareness pedagogy, and the analysis of hybrid forums to provide an improved rhetoric curriculum for professionals that will participate in interdisciplinary work. The dissertation also suggests ways that WPAs can use interest in innovation, leadership, and critical thinking to promote this type of rhetoric curriculum.