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This essay interrogates the concept of “clarity” that has become an imperative of effective student writing. I show that clarity is neither axiomatic nor transparent, and that the clear/unclear binary that informs the identification of clarity as a goal of effective student writing is itself unstable precisely because of the ideological baggage that undergirds its construction. I make this argument by finding the traces of composition’s insistence on student writers’ clarity in the attacks on the writing of critical theorists.


This article was originally published in College Composition and Communication, volume 61, issue 3, in 2010.

Peer Reviewed



National Council of Teachers of English



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