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Arguing Academic Merit: Meritocracy and the Rhetoric of the Personal Statement.

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Author(s): Alvarez, Steven

This article presents a pedagogical model for a sequence of first-year composition (FYC) assignments that encourages students' first-hand interpretations as insiders into the workings of educational meritocracy. I focus on how students negotiate the personal statement, an institutionally privileged genre for the discovery and definition of individual differences, characteristics, and aptitudes. I offer a Bourdiesian model of analysis of the rhetorical tactics students use to legitimate their cultural capital as academic merit. The tactics students enact become topoi for their own rhetorical analyses and arguments, which prove significant when competing for institutional resources.

ERIC Descriptors: Governance; Intelligence; Ability; Social Systems; College Freshmen; Writing (Composition); Personal Narratives; Ethnography; Writing Assignments; Essays; Reflection; Planning; Portfolios (Background Materials); Rhetoric; Discourse Modes

Publisher: Kingsborough Community College City University of New York. Available from: Boyd Printing Company, Inc. 49 Sheridan Avenue, Albany, NY 12210. Tel: 800-877-2693; Tel: 518-436-9686; e-mail:; Web site:

Source: Journal of Basic Writing

ERIC Citation: v31 n2 p32-56 Fall 2012

ERIC Number: EJ1053237

Peer reviewed

Record Type: Journal

Pages: 25

Abstractor: As Provided

ISSN: ISSN-0147-1635

Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive

Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education

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Article Details
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Author:Alvarez, Steven
Publication:Journal of Basic Writing
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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