Professional Writing and Rhetoric: Readings from the Field, 1st edition

  • Tim Peeples

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Professional Writing and Rhetoric is a disciplinary reader that introduces students to professional writing by inviting them into conversations about the field by people in the field.


Intended for undergraduates and entry-level masters students who are majoring, minoring, or getting certificates in professional writing studies, Professional Writing and Rhetoric is an edited reader that makes the field's theoretical discussions accessible to these students. Addressing a growing need as the field expands “up” from service-oriented courses and “down” from advanced graduate programs, it fills an important gap in the books currently available within professional writing studies.


This text guides students into the discussions that continue to form this relatively young field by (1) organizing readings rhetorically, (2) including several readings that are regularly cited in the field's literatures, (3) selecting readings that are accessible to students, and (4) offering pedagogical devices that aid comprehension and encourage critical reflection. The aim is not to present a “greatest hits of the field,” nor to direct students' thinking and practice toward the hottest new theories, nor to challenge the thinking of those already comfortably in the field. Instead, older and newer selections are intermixed within a rhetorical framework to encourage students to make connections across readings, promote reflective rhetorical practice, stimulate discussion, and encourage students to become co-inquirers within the discipline.

Table of contents

Each chapter begins with “Introduction” and concludes with “Projects.”


1. What Is Rhetoric?

Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp. “Perspectives on the Study of Rhetoric.”

Aristotle. On Rhetoric, Book 1, Chapters 1-3. Trans. George A. Kennedy.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, excerpts from Book VI. Trans. David Ross.

[Cicero]. Rhetorica Ad Herennium, excerpts from Book I. Trans. Harry Caplan.

2. What Is the Relationship Between Professional Writing and Rhetoric?

Lester Faigley. “Nonacademic Writing: The Social Perspective.”

Carolyn Miller. “What's Practical About Technical Writing?”

Susan Harkness Regli. “Whose Ideas?: The Technical Writer's Expertise in Invention.”

J. Slack et al. “The Technical Communicator as Author: Meaning, Power, Authority.”


3. Professional Writing as Organizationally Situated Action.

Linda Driskell. “Understanding the Writing Context in Organizations.”

Susan M. Katz. “Writing Review as an Opportunity for Individuation.”

Rachel Spilka. “Orality and Literacy in the Workplace: Process- and Text-Based Strategies for Multiple-Audience Adaptation.”

4. Professional Writing as Ethical Action.

Cezar M. Ornatowski. “Between Efficiency and Politics: Rhetoric and Ethics in Technical Writing.”

Steven B. Katz. “The Ethic of Expediency: Classical Rhetoric, Technology, and the Holocaust.”

James E. Porter. “Framing Postmodern Commitment and Solidarity.”

5. Professional Writing as Technologically Situated Action.

James R. Kalmbach. “Publishing Before Computers.”

Stephen A. Bernhardt. “The Shape of Texts to Come: The Texture of Print on Screens.”

Tharon W. Howard. “Who 'Owns' Electronic Texts?”


6. Professional Writers Produce User-Centered Documents.

Charles Kostelnick. “A Systemic Approach to Visual Language in Business Communication.”

Robert J. Johnson. “When All Else Fails, Use the Instructions: Local Knowledge, Negotiation, and the Construction of User-Centered Computer Documentation.”

Michael J. Floreak. “Designing for the Real World: Using Research to Turn a 'Target Audience' into Real People.”

7. Professional Writers Produce Social Space.

M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Betsy G. Jones. “Division of Labor or Integrated Teams: A Crux in the Management of Technical Communication?”

Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. “After Automation: Hypertext and Corporate Structures.”

Jeffrey T. Grabill and Michele W. Simmons. “Toward a Critical Rhetoric of Risk Communication: Producing Citizens and the Role of Technical Communicators.”


8. Writing Yourself into Professional Writing and Rhetoric.

Chris M. Anson and L. Lee Forsberg. “Moving Beyond the Academic Community: Transitional Stages in Professional Writing.”

Jamie MacKinnon. “Becoming a Rhetor: Developing Writing Ability in a Mature, Writing-Intensive Organization.”

Patrick Dias, et al. “Virtual Realities: Transitions from University to Workplace Writing.”

Published by Pearson (November 21st 2019) - Copyright © 2003