Revolution Lullabye

November 17, 2010

Kearns and Turner, Negotiated Independence

Kearns, Judith, and Brian Turner. “Negotiated Independence: How a Canadian Writing Program Became a Centre.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 21.1 (Fall 1997): 31-45. Print.

The authors explain the transition of the University of Winnipeg’s writing program (housed in English) to a stand-alone interdisciplinary Centre for Academic Writing. There are some interesting connections to Syracuse: this move to create a stand-alone writing program/department was happening at the same time (late 1980s, early 1990s), the importance of internal and external reviews to define the necessity of a stand-alone program, making writing a more visible, all-university affair. They argue that the development of independent writing programs depends on some sort of faculty and administrative support at a time where there is a perceived need and available funding.

Notes and Quotes 

on methodology, the use of case study in WPA scholarship: “Readers of Writing Program Administration will be acquainted with histories of new and emerging writing programs (Kirsch; Little) and with accounts of changes to existing programs (Bean and Ramage, Howard, Little and Rose, Rankin). Reading evaluations of program effectiveness (Olds; McMullen and Wellman) and more theoretical articles (Gale, Carson, Gunner), many of us have focused particular attention on the case studies used as illustrations. Each of these narratives gives WPAs an opportunity not merely to place our own experiences in a broader context but also to learn strategies for strengthening programs and improving their institutional status. As Carol Hartzog has pointed out, these accounts also make a formative contribution to the field as a whole, insofar as efforts to develop sound programs parallel the larger effort to consolidate the identity of composition as a field…In a sense, then, histories of particular programs help to construct an emerging discipline” (31).

Canadian context: virtually no PhDs in rhet/comp, tough immigration laws for Americans to come on over.

Before becoming independent: They explain the difficulties both of implementing a common curriculum using instructors with no background in composition and rhetoric pedagogy and of running the program without formal administrative or voting procedures: things were done on an ad hoc basis by committee.

Went through a five-year review, begun by a self-study (connections to the Syracuse WP). This was happening at the same time as Syracuse (five-year review was in 1993). Had both an internal review and an external review. Both recommended that the program be made autonomous.

The review – conducted internally by the university who were not aware of composition pedagogy and theory – focused only on practical matters, but did note that a common curriculum stifled instructors and allowing students to opt out of writing made writing seem punitive (36).

The faculty from the Centre are in a precarious position for tenure because they are not in a traditional department.


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