What Matters Who Writes?
What Matters Who Responds?
Issues of Ownership in the Writing Classroom


This text, originally the keynote address given by Andrea Lunsford to the NCTE conference at Colgate University in August 1995, questions our assumptions about ownership of text. Who owns a text? And why do we believe in this relationship between text and author? Raising this issue introduces ontologically charged questions: just who writes  the text in question? Lunsford, in her work with Lisa Ede, has proposed that there is no single, originary "genius" of authorship. Rather, the text is socially constructed, a product of discourse, and no one single individual can claim to own that text.

This postmodern view, when juxtaposed with our romantic notions of individual ownership, reveals the history of copyright. Notions of ownership arose simultaneously with the need to protect intellectual property. As the rights of the individual producer outweigh those of the reader in our litigious society, how can the rights of the reader be reasserted? Although this hypertext retains the use of an "I" that can be associated with the voice of "Andrea Lunsford," three other voices have joined in the creation of this text, while maintaining some conventions of solitary authorship. Who owns this  text?

Author Bios

Andrea A. Lunsford is a distinguished professor and Vice Chair for Rhetoric and Composition at The Ohio State University. She was the past Chair for the Conference on College Composition and Communication and is currently a member of the MLA Executive Council. Her most recent publication is an edited volume Reclaiming Rhetorica,  published in 1995 by the University of P ittsburg Press. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of writing as a technology and has a long-standing interest in electronic literacies.

Rebecca Rickly is an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University, an active member of Rhetnet, the Alliance for Computers and Writing (ACW), and the Instructional Technology Committee of NCTE.

Michael J. Salvo is currently a graduate student at Texas Tech University in the Technical Communication and Rhetoric Concentration in the English Department; he is primarily interested in CMP (Computer Mediated Pedagogy).

Susan West is currently finishing her dissertation,From Owning to Owning Up: 'Authorial' Rights and Rhetorical Responsibilities,  at The Ohio State University under the direction of Andrea Lunsford.

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