Composing Citizens: Epistemic Work in the Interstices of Comprehensive-Planning Genres

Dylan Dryer


As cities like “Portstown” comply with statutory mandates to involve citizens in the drafting of their comprehensive plans, community-literacy workers should pay careful attention to the reading and writing opportunities that emerge.  This case-study examines how Portstown planners surveyed citizens’ experience of their city and illustrates how citizens translated and resisted the assumptions that infused the survey. I argue that in our efforts to understand the coercive properties of institutional documents, we must not efface the epistemic qualities of the work of composition.  Recognizing these qualities, I conclude, means seeing more opportunities to intervene strategically in the development and reception of “public” writing opportunities.

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