Laura Gay Andres

The authentic I: A theory of expressive writing

Laura Gay Andres

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1987 pp: 219
  • Advisor: Lauer, Janice M.
  • Source: DAI-A 49/03, p. 447, Sep 1988
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN: 0-493-27871-0
  • UMI Number: AAT 8807581

Abstract:

    • Expressive discourse is probably the most troublesome of Kinneavy’s four aims of discourse, because of disagreement about the definition of expressive writing and about whether it is distinguishable from the other three aims (referential, persuasive, literary). The major goals of the dissertation are to demonstrate that there are pieces of discourse which should be categorized and interpreted as expressive, and to define expression, distinguishing it from the other aims. The authenticity (as defined by Heidegger) of the “I” in the discourse distinguishes expressive writing from other kinds of writing. Evidence of authenticity is provided by the following features: (1) three-part phenomenological self (Being-for-Itself, Being-for-Others, Being-in-the-World); (2) emotionally valued goal; and (3) style features: images, vague referents, superlatives and allness terms, and first-person pronouns. The discourse taxonomies (which include expression) of Kinneavy and Britton are compared and evaluated; Kinneavy’s theory serves as the foundation for the dissertation, because it deals with mature texts, and it is based on a model of the self which corresponds to the definition of authenticity. Ten expressive essays are analyzed with their rhetorical contexts and the three features to determine the authenticity of the “I.” The method of analysis, because it is designed for expressive texts, illuminates such texts better than other methods. Some of the conclusions are as follows: Expression can be rhetorical, finished, and mature, not simply prewriting or immature writing. Authenticity distinguishes expression from the other aims, and the three features reveal the writer’s relationship to her past, present, future; her relationships with herself, others, the world; and her goal or project, its emotional value, and how she is facing and pursuing it. This conception of expression can aid teachers of college composition in assigning, guiding, and evaluating expressive writing.