Individualism, academic writing, and ESL writers

Vai Ramanathan, Dwight Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Recent research has pointed to the cultural values implicit in L1-oriented composition pedagogy - a form of pedagogy which is increasingly being encountered by university ESL writers. In this article we examine four principles and practices of L1-oriented composition which appear to tacitly incorporate a U.S. mainstream ideology of individualism: voice, peer review, critical thinking, and textual ownership. We discuss ways in which these principles and practices may not comport well with the cultural approaches taken by many ESL students, depending substantially on past studies to support our discussion. In concluding, we argue that the ideology of individualism described in this article also underlies recent critiques of cross-cultural writing research, and we end by restating the primary rationale of cross-cultural writing research - that sociocultural knowledge regarding our students contributes vitally to knowing who they really are.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-75
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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