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Over the past ten years the writing curriculum in colleges and universities has been adapted to recognize cultural diversity in the classroom. By studying this changing curriculum, the contributors to this volume attempt to clarify the ways in which issues of authority, audience, and discourse have intersected to create meaning.
Contested Terrain seeks to flesh out the key concepts that mark the field of study when writing is used to infuse cultural diversity into the curriculum. It makes explicit the fact that certain kinds of logical strategies and social conventions are implicit when a writer sets out to convince a reader to adopt a particular viewpoint. Though professors often declare that a student paper is unsuccessful is because citations are incorrect or grammar is poor, contributors to this volume demonstrate that such responses to student writing often mask the deeper problems of personal and social constructs versus socially independent absolutes.
Contested Terrain —like the Writing Across the Curriculum movement—roots itself in the position that reading and writing are political activities. Phyllis Kahaney and Judith Liu, with this collection, call for a new way of creating discourse communities, one that changes the rules about how meaning is made in various academic disciplines by opening discourse to include more voices—voices that reflect the changing American society.