This book articulates an ethics for reading that places primary responsibility for the social influences of a text on the response of its readers.
We write and read as participants in a process through which we negotiate with others whom we must live or work with and with whom we share values, beliefs, and actions. Clark draws on current literary theory, rhetoric, philosophy, communication theory, and composition studies as he builds on this argument.
Because reading and writing are public actions that address and direct matters of shared belief, values, and action, reading and writing should be taught as public discourse. We should teach not writing or reading so much as the larger practice of public discourse—a discourse that sustains the many important communities of which students are and will be active members.