The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Rhetoric and Writing: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Heiman

Second Advisor

Rex Veeder

Third Advisor

Kristian Twombly

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Composition, ideology, cut-up, expressivism, social-epistemic


In 2015, Roeder and Gatto edited and published Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom, which attempts to present a new understanding of expressivism as a viable means of teaching composition in a twenty-first century world. By emphasizing the self as central to the social construction of reality, Critical Expressivism critiques social-epistemic pedagogy and, more specifically, James Berlin. But the self and the social are so intertwined that they are actually one and the same; we are always-already social beings. The distinction between critical expressivist and social-epistemic rhetorics, then, is more semantic than substantial. To build a connection between these two pedagogies, I explore William Burroughs’s and Brion Gysin’s cut-up method and an associated theory of language and ideology: the “word-virus.” The word-virus demonstrates that composition is neither entirely personal nor entirely social. In essence, the social/individual divide is revealed to be a false dichotomy—one that has potential implications for anyone who teaches composition, particularly those who are still learning to become writing teachers.