book cover of Explanation Points

Explanation Points: Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition

Edited by John R. Gallagher and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss

Review by Keaton Lamle

Utah State University Press, 2019.

ISBN: 978-1-60732-882-7.

Publisher Book Page


Small faults aside, Explanation Points is an obsessively helpful, charmingly accessible, and surprisingly affordable collection of pieces targeted equally at newcomers to the process and publishing professionals. Even some of its minor faults spring from virtues; as odd as it may sound, one limitation for this project comes in its discipline-specific title and marketing. The book is presented as a primer for publishing specifically in rhetoric and composition, and while there are certainly a few essays that seem confined to the rhet/comp world, the fact is that even the most explicitly targeted pieces (Bryan Hawk's, "You Can Do That in Rhetoric and Composition" comes to mind) don't contain any impenetrable jargon and would prove helpful not only to scholars across the gradient of English studies but also to those in just about any corner of higher education with a publishing component. After all, the writing and reading process doesn't change that much from discipline to discipline, and most of the collaboration and editorial essays here hew toward big picture concerns, as opposed to issues faced only by rhet/comp professionals.

In fact, I read this book as part of a reading group composed of scholars dispersed across various disciplines traditionally housed in colleges of humanities and social sciences, and the feedback from readers without experience in the formal study of rhetoric skewed predominately positive. My impressions of the takeaways different readers can expect from the text are as follows:

The point is, while Gallagher and DeVoss were probably wise to avoid attempting to speak for all of academia in a single collection, I would not hesitate to recommend this text to colleagues and students across the arts, humanities, social sciences, or even STEM-intensive fields, which probably speaks to one unexpected benefit of writing about rhetoric: it is, after all, the "discipline of disciplines."


Olson, Gary A., & Taylor, Todd W. (Eds.). (1997). Publishing in rhetoric and composition. State University of New York Press.