Nystrand's writing research examines the role of reciprocity between writers and readers as the semiotic basis shaping their communication and the process of learning to write (The Structure of Written Communication: Studies in Reciprocity between Writers and Readers, 1986). In critical historical work, most notably, "Where Did Composition Studies Come From?" (Nystrand, Greene, and Wiemelt, 1993), he examined contrasts of ideas about writing, text, and meaning in composition studies, literature studies, and linguistics. More recently, he has investigated the social and cultural contexts which supported the emergence and development of these perspectives and the resulting ideas about writing. This research will be found in Towards a Rhetoric of Everyday Life: New Directions in Research on Writing, Text, and Discourse (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) co-edited with John Duffy. Currently, he is working on The Semiotics of Influence: On the Emergence of the New Discourse about Writing ca. 1970, a monograph examining influence as a sociocultural and dialogic process of social change.
The Structure of Written Communication: Studies in Reciprocity between Writers and Readers (1986):
History of ideas about writing; history of research on writing: