Keywords in Composition Studies is the first systematic inquiry into the vocabulary of writing teachers and theorists. In brief yet heavily researched essays, contributors explore the development of and interconnections among fifty-five of the most consequential words in the field. It is with these critical terms that the contemporary field of composition has been composed, and in this sense, Keywords in Composition Studies is an introduction to the principal ideas and ideals of compositionists.

Yet this book is neither a dictionary nor an encyclopedia; it does not attempt to capture the established knowledge of a unified discipline through its vocabulary but rather explores the multiple layers of meaning inhabiting the words writing teachers and theorists have depended and continue to depend on most. Each essay begins with the assumption that its central term is important precisely because its meaning is open, overdetermined. The purpose of each essay is to foreground a range of meaning signified by its central term rather than to pinpoint a meaning. In this sense, Keywords in Composition Studies is a practical model for reading the texts of an expanding and unsettled field.