Writing Research

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):

  • Ch 2: Reciprocity as a Principle of Discourse [pdf]
  • Ch. 3: What Writers Do [pdf]
  • Ch. 8: Learning to Write By Talking About Writing [pdf]
  • Dialogic Analysis of Thomas Szasz [PowerPoint] (Firefox or Internet Explorer, not Netscape)

    Olson-Nystrand Debate:

  • Nystrand, The Role of Context in Written Communication (1983)
  • Olson, Text and Talk/Review of Nystrand's The Structure of Written Composition (1989)
  • Olson, Children's understanding of interpretation and the autonomy of written texts (1991)
  • Orality and Literacy: RTE Symposium (2006)
  • History of ideas about writing; history of research on writing:

  • Where Did Comp Studies From? (1993)
  • The Social and Historical Context for Writing Research (2006)
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    Classroom discourse