Revolution Lullabye

December 4, 2006

And More…

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 4:55 am

From Coming of Age…

 Bullock, Richard. “Feathering Our Nest?: A Critical View from Within the Discipline.” 19-24.

Bullock claims that the development of the undergraduate writing major “may have effects we don’t intend” (20). Those effects are “creating programs that prepare teachers of college-level writing in the absence of need, making programs larger despite dismal employment prospects fo our graduates, focusing on self-aggrandizement) often phrased in terms of ‘respect for us as professionals with a field’) rather than on being of use to students” (21). We want to teach students who like to write – is that clouding our mission as writing teachers?

We must be careful of accepting too many students into graduate programs with no chance of eventual employment – that’s unethical (22). Writing/composition and rhetoric tries to distance itself from literature in this fashion, but the major might put us in the same boat that we jumped ship from.

If we join the abolitionist movement, “we risk losing our power base” (23). The first-year course is required at 98% of American colleges and universities. “As we professionalize, as we turn our attention away from first-year comp to more theoretical scholarly pursuits and advanced courses and major programs, we may indeed gain opportunities for enhanced respect, interested students, and vaired teaching opportunities; we may also forfeit the power of our service role” (24). Can we have it both ways?

“Professionalizing – institutionalizing through developing undergraduate majors as well as graduate programs – is risky business, and for us writing folk, the risk inheres in losing sight of our strenghts – being pragmatic, student-centered, experiemntal, even subversive – and taking on the weaknesses of others as we ‘discipline’ ourselves” (24).

Schwegler, Robert A. “Curriculum Development in Composition.” 25-31.

What is a curriculum? “A set of practices and material conditions: catalog descriptions and course proposals shephered through often-contentious committees; catalog text and registration booklets promulgated widely, making binding and nonbinding promises and placing numbered course listings in the semblance of a coherent plan; teaching schedules and general education requirements stated according to course titles and numbers; the content of job announcemetns and tenure/promotion discussions; categories for distributing physical and monetary resources; part of the everyday langauge of students, instructors, adminstrators, and schoalrs,; minds of bureaucrats and politicians usuing their recollections of college to forumlate educational policy and funding” (25-26)

“Curricular formation is competitve” – it decides space, funding, prestige, students, faculty (26).

Composition, as opposed to literature, seems a course of study without any content (26). How do you make a “skill” into a curriculum, then? “Because writing was regarded as a skill – a means to an end – it lacked, in constrast to literary studey, both the variety and a principle of division that could lead to the creation of a curriculum that included numerous specialized courses” (27). How do you divide up a skill? On the stages of composing? On sentences, paragraphs, words, essays? These seem silly and not worthy of full courses.

One way to split up courses in writing is by genre – led to 3-way split of journalism, creative writing, technical writing.

We can focus on “activity fields” or “discursive fields” (30). These would analyze specific discursive communities by “investigate recurring textual and discursive practices; relationships of textual knowledge, resources, and power; and systems of representation – all while stressing discursive participation in a feild and offering opportunities for practice and response” (30).

Instead of “skill,” we should use the term “expertise” (29). Anyone can have the skill to drive, but not everyone can have the expertise to play the piano or compose music.

Activity fields allow for a variety of specialized courses focused on production (31).


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