The Ruse Of Clarity

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.