Revolution Lullabye

November 11, 2010

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).


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