Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1991




This article examines Mina Shaughnessy's Errors and Expectations in light of current discourse theories which posit language as a site of struggle among competing discourses. It finds Shaughnessy's analyses and recommended pedagogies dominated by a view of language as a politically innocent vehicle of meaning. The author argues that this view of language leads Shaughnessy to overlook basic writers' need to confront the dissonance they experience between academic and other discourses, which might undercut her goal of helping students achieve the "freedom of deciding how and when and where to use which language." The author further argues that to pursue Shaughnessy's goal of countering unequal social conditions through education, we need to abandon the limitations of the essentialist view of language informing our pedagogy.


Original Publication Information

Lu, Min-Zhan. "Redefining the Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy: A Critique of the Politics of Linguistic Innocence." 1991. Journal of Basic Writing 10(1): 26-40.