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Beverly Bragg
October 1, 2014
Textbook Review / English 5301
Word Count: 1366

Meta-reflective - I chose this textbook review for


my portfolio because I had to really concentrate
and follow directions. And, having never written a
textbook review before, I was quite happy with the
way it turned out.

The textbook Everyones an Author: with Readings begins with an introduction that introduces
the authors as teachers, and discusses the changes they have collectively seen take place in
writing over the past decade. The authors contend that historically, the term author is most
associated with the rise of print and the ability of a writer to claim what he or she has written as
property (Lunsford, Brody, et al xxx). In the early eighteenth century, the first copyright act
gave authors primary rights to their work. Although anyone could be considered a writer, an
author was a published writer. The internet, however, changed this distinction between writers
and authors by giving almost anyone the opportunity to publish what they write (Lunsford,
Brody et al xxx). Due to the use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media
sites, authorship is no longer relegated to a small, elite group (made up mostly of men), but is
instead comprised of ordinary people who are now able to get their voices out there for others to
hear (Lunsford, Brody et al viii). As to why students write, the authors contend that the focus
has shifted. Students no longer write just in response to a traditional assignment given by a
teacher in class, but instead write in response to what is taking place in the world around them.
Additionally, they write and research reports, persuasive papers, and narratives not just to
report or analyze but to join conversations (Lunsford, Brody et al vii).

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There are two versions available of Everyones an Author; one with a selection of
readings that relate to specific chapter topics and discussions (used for this textbook review) and
one without. Ancillary resources are also available; including a teaching guide (used for this
textbook review) which contains a sample syllabi, worksheets and handouts, and ideas for
teaching Everyones an Author, as well an interactive website (everyonesanauthor.tumblr.com)
that contains articles, essays, and interviews and allows readers to post comments, questions and
their own writing. The text is also available as an eBook with a feature that allows students to
search the text for key words and phrases. The topic of rhetoric is discussed in the front of the
book and the readings are presented in the back of the book. Part one of the text contains six
chapters which define and discuss the need for rhetoric and its relationship to the writing process,
as well as discussions on rhetoric as a field of study and the use of rhetoric in the workplace.
Part two examines genres of writing such as the argumentative essay, the narrative, and a review,
and offers what the authors term characteristic features of each. Part three focuses on the role
of an argument and how to analyze arguments presented to the reader and by the reader, and
strategies for arguing. The fourth section of the text is specific to research and explains how a
writer may join the conversation of existing criticism in regard to a particular topic and how a
reader may incorporate his or her own ideas into these conversations. It also offers practical
advice on searching for and evaluating sources, time management techniques, how to write a
project proposal and how to construct an annotated bibliography. MLA style and APA style are
also discussed. The final section encourages writers to formulate their own style of writing by
connecting to their audience, providing context and sharing information. This section also
includes a chapter that discusses how to assemble a portfolio, and the benefits of utilizing a
writing center.

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Everyones an Author is a collaborative text written by a group of teachers who state the
purpose of the textbook is to guide student writers as they take on the responsibilities,
challenges, and joys of authorship (Lunsford, Brody et al ix). The authors imply that while
social media has made it possible for almost anyone to be an author, a successful author is on
that understands "every rhetorical situation presents its own unique constraints and opportunities,
and as authors, we need to think strategically about our own situation" (Lunsford, Brody et al
19) and what we are trying to accomplish with our writing. In regard to the text's audience, the
phrase "student writers" suggests the authors' audience is comprised of college students or high
school students who plan to attend college in the near future, and the teachers and / or professors
who instruct these students, and indeed, much of the text is dedicated to discussing scenarios that
involve writing at the college level. However, a more detailed review of the text reveals
discussions by the authors on how to continue to be a successful writer once a student graduates
from college, officially becomes an adult and enters the workplace, and this theme is carried
through to the readings in the back of the book, where adult authors discuss everything from
biology (The Egg and the Sperm by anthropologist Emily Martin) to pizza (American Pie by
food historian Hanna Miller).
Two major theoretical underpinnings brought forth in this text are expressive writing and
cognitive writing. The text itself suggests that the image of the romantic writer, or the
expressive writer, who writes down his or her original expressive thoughts has been replaced
in the twenty first century by the cognitive writer who responds to the ideas or writings of others
and writes for an audience. So, unlike expressionist Peter Elbow ("Some Thoughts on
Expressive Discourse: A Review Essay") who discusses the benefit of asking students to write
expressively, for no immediate audience, the authors of Everyone's an Author imply that

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expressive writing is outdated, and that writers today must learn to focus on a rhetorical
situation, as suggested by Linda Flower and John R. Hayes ("The Cognition of Discovery") and
learn as writers to "work . . .the audience and the assignment" (The Norton Book of Composition
Studies 471).
The main strength of Everyone's an Author is the amount of ancillary material that
accompanies the book. The website and the additional readings help facilitate the points the
authors discuss in the text. Additionally, the text contains varied writing activities and prompts
designed to help students with specific writing projects. A major limitation of the text is that it
does not promote the benefits of expressive writing and instead focuses heavily on a writer's
immediate audience and the rhetorical voice the writer needs to use to reach that audience.
The authors address the role of the social in the text by suggesting that writing today is
often a collaborative activity shared by teams of students, office workers, and professors who
work together to create and presents projects they share with an audience, each contributing their
knowledge to create a final result. They discuss the need for collaborative writing and explain
that two of the authors of the text "have been arguing for nearly thirty years now, and this book
itself is a product of collaboration (Lundsford, Brody et al / A Guide to Teaching 44).
However, unlike Kenneth Bruffee ("Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'
"), who discusses the need to understand knowledge and the benefits of peer-to-peer interaction,
the authors of the text see collaborative learning as a means to finish a writing or work project,
and they suggest that collaborative groups include a task manager, a recorder and an editor.
While their approach is useful to encourage accountability, it also encourages the formation of
elite groups and creates power struggles with these groups, a practice which they discouraged in
the introduction of the text. Finally, although the textbook is titled Everyone's an Author, the

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authors refer to students as writers throughout most of the text, not as authors, and in
Chapter 27, they provide ways for teachers / instructors to move students away from social
media writing and steer them toward academic writing. This suggests that a Twitter or blog post
may not make you an author, or that the audience you are writing for may not be as important as
an academic audience who seeks out a textbook, which tends to contradict the title of the text.