Revolution Lullabye

July 6, 2009

North, The Making of Knowledge in Composition

North, Stephen M. The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1987.

Through his description of the major methodologies used by composition and rhetoric scholars, North argues that the future of Composition depends on two things: Composition’s break with literary studies and Composition’s ability to retain its plurality of methodologies, not allowing for one to overpower and prevent others from flourishing. North rejects that Composition is undergoing a Kuhn paradigm shift because he claims that the field is so diverse that it never had a paradigmatic structure. North divides the field into three branches of inquiry: the practicioners (who ask “what do we do?”); the scholars (who ask “what does it mean?”) and the researchers (who ask “what happened (or happens)?)  His book lays out a map through which to see and understand the field, noting interdisciplinary influences (humanities and science) and the influence of public policy and politics.

Notable Notes

dates the beginning of Composition to 1963 – Kitzhaber’s address to CCCC “4C and Freshman English” – move beyond just practicioner knowledge to a field, profession

what’s needed to maintain plurality of methodologies? 1. methodological consciousness 2. methodological egalitarianism 3. practice as inquiry 4. recognition and appreciation of lore

scholars include historians, philosophers, and critics

researchers include experimentalists, clinicians, formalists, and ethnographers

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