Post-Process Note (Atkinson)

Atkinson, Dwight. “L2 Writing in the Post-Process Era: Introduction.” The Norton Book of Composition Studies. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2009. 1532-1543. Print.

In this introduction to a special issue on post-process pedagogy and second language (L2) writing instruction, Atkinson elaborates on John Trimbur’s definition of post-process, problematizing process pedagogy from a slightly different cultural and literacy direction. According to his review of literature in both L1 and L2, Atkinson identifies that beyond the social turn and post-cognitivist critiques common to writers such as Trimbur, there are serious problems with an unsocialized model of the writing process; mostly that pedagogies based on FLower and Hayes’ research “assume forms of socialization” (1535) and mistakenly apply progressivism onto groups of students that it they won’t work with and may even reproduce repressive power systems. For Trimbur (and others, as I have written on this blog), the fundamental weakness of the process movement, despite all of the wonderful things it delivered to writing instruction, is its assumed unproblematicality. It’s offered as an oversimplified and a-ideological solution to a problem that has everything to do with institutional power, history, and material conditions–it fails to “deal with questions of power in the classroom” (1535).

Atkinson doesn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater–he calls for “expanding and broadening the domain of L2 writing” and not a fundamental and sweeping paradigm shift. Process writing is useful and powerful, but should be tempered and contextualized by “concerns about production and reproduction of unequal power relationships in and beyond the classroom.” “concerns about cultural mismatches,” and “microscopic concerns” about techniques that just don’t work (1536-1537).


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