Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Claude M. Hurlbert, D.A.

Second Advisor

Patrick Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.


This dissertation applies a mixed-methods approach to the question "Where does writing end?" in an academic context, specifically that of college composition classrooms on the developmental and freshman composition levels at a U.S. community college. In this dissertation, I define what an "academic" essay is, and then I use both post-process composition theory and reader-response theory to explore multiple ways to answer the question "Where does writing end?" in a college composition classroom by introducing metaphors such as "writing is an artifact." I challenge compositionists to consider all academic writing as an "artifact," both in the material sense and as a metaphor for writing. I also suggest that any artifact is an unfinished communicative act; this unlimited meaning is a conversation that has potentially unlimited opportunities to continue on in expanded or even new texts. These dual concepts, of academic writing as an artifact and of an artifact's infinite dialogic potential, can work together to allow for compositionists to move the focus back to writing in the composition classroom. Within two differing composition classes I show the proposed application of two different theoretical positionings in a composition classroom: that of post-process composition theory and reader-response theory, as reflected in the potential interactions between professor and student writers. I also test out the metaphor of "writing is an artifact" within both theories in two distinct levels of English composition: Preparing for College Writing 2 and Second Semester College Composition. Finally, I provide suggestions on how the broader composition community might incorporate and support where writing ends and the metaphor of writing as an artifact in the teaching of composition, as well as in the literature and dialogues of our field. I suggest that academic conceptions of "composition" can be understood through a variety of metaphors, and that diversity supports composition much more strongly than a homogenized attempt at creating "one-way" or singular composition content. I finish this dissertation by taking a look at new processes being implemented at Northern Virginia Community College, which will have a drastic and potentially negative effect on the teaching of composition "by committee."