Revolution Lullabye

November 15, 2010

Crow, Wagering Tenure by Signing on with Independent Writing Programs

Crow, Angela. “Wagering Tenure by Signing on with Independent Writing Programs.” .” 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. 213-229. Print.

Crow describes the “tenure wager,” the multiple aspects of tenure – academic freedom, economic security, local v. disciplinary participation and focus – one must consider when choosing what institution to work for and how to prepare oneself for the tenure and promotion decision. She addresses three areas of concern for both tenure-track faculty and their senior faculty colleagues and department chairs: what the general local climate is like (strategic plans, departmental histories, mission, available funding, number of comp scholars to share administrative duties); the expectations for administrative labor (running programs, developing programs, training teachers, how administration will or won’t be counted as publications for scholarship); and the evaluation of administrative labor in tenure and promotion guidelines (get it in writing). She uses her experience at Georgia Southern to explain each of these areas of concern. She warns that creating independent writing programs requires a lot of labor, and argues that the field needs to be open in discussing this because it can have serious implications on junior faculty’s ability to get tenure.

Notes and Quotes

The catch-22: focusing on your scholarship at the expense of your department’s needs in order to gear up for tenure or working on largely invisible administrative tasks at the expense of getting publications – what is rewarded? What is important?

“Tenure is always a wager, and one hopes that a fit exists between the individual and the community, but composition traditions complicate the ability to wager tenure” (228).

She compares the position of a tenure-track professor in a fledging independent writing program or department and in a English program with a strong comp/rhet contingent that values the scholarship and research of composition and rhetoric. Which is really better?

Uses the cosmopolitan/local distinction to describe how a tenure-track professor’s own positioning in the field might be in jeopardy if she is engaged in the necessary administrative work to develop curriculum and an independent program or department.

Interesting conundrum: universities are more and more influenced by economics, market. All of a sudden, undervalued composition has more market value than composition.


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