Revolution Lullabye

November 11, 2010

Yood, Revising the Dream

Yood, Jessica. “Revising the Dream: Graduate Students, Independent Writing Programs, and the Future of English Studies.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 170-185. Print.

Yood uses reception theory – the idea that different constituencies in a single system process and understand change in different ways – to explain how the construction of an independent writing program has a different effect on graduate student identities and their perceptions of the field than it has on full-time faculty in the program. She uses her experiences and those of fellow graduate students at SUNY Stony Brook during the removal of composition from the English Department into an independent Program in Writing and Rhetoric, a move that was opposed by several writing faculty and English PhD graduate students because how it would fracture their integrated studies and research in literature and composition, reading and writing.  She shows the effect of the departmental split – which questioned the relationship between literature and composition – on her dissertation writing process and the dissertations of two of her fellow students, showing how they are reshaping knowledge and synthesizing what the discipline(s) of English Studies are about.

Notes and Quotes

Uses Niklas Luhmann (systems theorist) and E. Doyle McCarthy (1996) for theoretical framework: sociology of knowledge, systems theory.

“Our historical moment is characterized by a level of complexity that makes observing, recording, theorizing, or narrativizing especially difficult” (171). How to we understand change? How to we express that change?

“In order to understand how knowledge is made in a transforming cultural and disciplinary matrix, we need a dynamic reception-response approach that integrates experience and observation” (172).

Uses Farris and Anson to detail the shift in the mid-1990s in composition: PhD programs started, tenure-track jobs created, WAC programs, writing centers, technology programs.

Anson, Who Wants Composition

Anson, Chris. “Who Wants Composition: Reflections on the Rise and Fall of an Independent Program.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 153-169. Print.

Anson describes the history of the stand-alone Program in Composition and Communication at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, which was created in the early 1980s, and explains how, because of struggles and moves for power and money within the English Department and university structure, that program was suddenly re-absorbed by the English Department in the summer of 1996 (who then removed Anson from the director’s position.) The Program had no major and had no tenure lines; the faculty and director of the Program had tenure lines in other departments. Anson argues that the implementation of a Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budget system at the university gave the English Department incentive to take back the Program in Composition because the Program’s large number of student tuition dollars and low teaching costs gave them a favorable budget, while the English Department’s low number of students and high teaching costs put them in a precarious situation.

Notes and Quotes

A WPA’s job can no longer be seen as “a hobby, to be set aside whenever the stacks of nineteenth-century literary criticism or the latest PMLA beckon. Composition is embracing new, burgeoning areas strongly connected to learning and literacy: innovations in technology, service learning, and multifaceted forms of assessment; advances in faculty development, such as reflective practice and the scholarship of teaching; analyses of increasingly diverse writing communities; college/high school articulation. To be a WPA means to be passionate and devote time to these connected areas” (166-167).

“In spite of the politics nad hierarchies in which we work as administrators of writing programs, it is the human moments, the connections we make and the lives we touch and improve, the ways we live and work in and through our places in higher education, that really matter.” People, not programs (168).

Maid, Creating Two Departments of Writing

Maid, Barry M. “Creating Two Departments of Writing: One Past and One Future.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 130-149. Print.

Maid explains the difficulties and pitfalls in creating independent writing departments, using his experiences at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arizona State University East, where he helped develop stand-alone writing and rhetoric departments.

 Notes and Quotes

3 independent departments of writing in spring 1993: University of Texas at Austin, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and San Diego State University (w/ Shirly Rose and Sherry Little, discussed in Hindman’s article in this same collection.)

Methodology: insider account, was the WPA from 1982-1987; chair of the huge English Department from 1987-1993.

Warns that every story is individual to the institution, must be taken into context.

“In many ways, it’s easier to start a new program from scratch than to try to piece together remnants of other programs” (147).

Heartache, in-fighting, anger, ugliness

position of non-tenure-track instructors in the governance of a department

Hindman, Learning as We G(r)o(w)

Hindman, Jane E. “Learning as We G(r)o(w): Strategizing the Lessons of a Fledging Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 107-129. Print.

Hindman argues that stand-alone departments of writing will not resolve the deep labor issues present in the teaching of undergraduate composition. The hierarchal structures present in the university which separate classes of workers through binaries (teaching v. research; practice v. theory) are pervasive throughout the entire institution. Only institutional practices can resolve material issues, which she argues should include creating a class of full-time, teaching-intensive positions that would replace the part-time lecturer and adjunct positions that form the bulk of the underpaid labor at universities.  HIndman warns that a stand-alone department is not a utopian condition for either the full-time composition and rhetoric faculty or the part-time instructors and graduate assistants who work in it. Hindman uses her own stand-alone Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University to explain strategies and ways an independent writing program can challenge the hierarchal structure that the institution is framed around. This stand-alone department was established in the fall of 1993, through a merger of the composition faculty from English with the Academic Skills Center program, and consisted of one chair, four full-time faculty, thirty lecturers, and sixty graduate assistants. Hindman claims that the administrative load of running a university-wide writing program – and developing an independent department’s own programs – results in a change for the worst in working conditions for full-time composition faculty and for the lecturers because, with how the program was structured by upper administration, the lecturers did not have the same kind of job security as they had previously.

Notes and Quotes

“A proposal that includes a specific labor plan for lecturing faculty – addressing such issues as renewable contracts and permanent status, opportunity for merit awards, adequate office space – has a better chance to counteract the rigid and entrenched hierarchy of the academy’s work force” (126).

 “Neither English departments nor “MLA-like” power structures nor our own individual ambition for job security or position is solely or even collectively responsible for academia’s persistent caste system and co-optive processes. The multitiered work force, as indeed the process of co-option itself, is a predictable outcome of the academy’s institutionally sanctioned hierarchy” (109).

“In actuality, however, this dream of independence has been less than liberating for many. Some argue that the status of the profession has improved at the expense of the material working conditions of many professionals. While the discipline of composition studies has apparently survived its legitimation crises, the expertise and authority of a majority of its practitioners are persistently and willfully ignored on a massive, institutional scale” (107).

Uses Joseph Harris (2000) to talk about “comp droids” and James Sledd to talk about “boss compositionist”

She addresses the argument that the Wyoming Resolution has been co-opted by CCCC to focus on improving the status of the discipline, create tenure-track jobs for PhD holders – stepped away from the non-tenure-track labor issue.

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