Audience and Authority in the Professional Writing of Teacher- Authors

Anne Elrod A.E. Whitney, Christine M Dawson, Katie L. Anderson, Suyoung Kang, Nicole R Olcese, Michael Ridgeman, Elsie L. Olan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the ways issues of audience and authority are encountered and addressed by classroom teachers who write journal articles for publication. Drawing on an interview study of K-12 classroom teachers who have published articles in NCTE's journals Language Arts, Voices from the Middle, and English Journal, we show that teachers developed and deployed strikingly different conceptions of audience at different points in their composing process. Before and after writing, they acknowledged the wide and mixed readership of those journals, including university-based scholars; however, while drafting their articles they thought about a much more limited group of "teachers like them." In doing so, these teacher-authors found a concrete way to navigate the contested place of classroom teachers in wider education discourses. We highlight two major implications of this work. First, it complicates the standard advice to writers to "know your audience," showing instead how considerations of audience are closely linked to questions of one's status relative to members of that audience. Second, our work might complicate understandings of legitimate peripheral participation and how members of communities of practice are positioned relative to one another vis-à-vis authority: teacher-authors manipulated notions of authority, temporarily redefining some readers as more central and others as more peripheral, in ways that shifted according to the authority stances those definitions allowed them to take in composing. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-419
Number of pages30
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


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