The Categories We Keep: Writing Center Forms and the _Topoi_ of Writing

Christopher LeCluyse


Rather than being mundane artifacts of daily practice, writing center forms reveal our fundamental assumptions about writing. Particularly instructive are forms that categorize writing into a series of checkboxes. Analysis of such forms from twenty-two writing centers demonstrates a disciplinary consensus about which aspects of writing are most salient and the pedagogies that underlie them. Seen as examples of Aristotle’s topoi, these checkbox categories play an important role in passing expert-defined concepts of writing on to writing tutors and the writers they serve.


writing center; forms; writing pedagogy; classical rhetoric; Aristotle; topoi


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