Revolution Lullabye

June 12, 2009

Cooper and Odell, Research on Composing

Cooper, Charles R. and Lee Odell. Research on Composing: Points of Departure. Urbana: NCTE, 1978.

This collection, from the 1975 Buffalo Conference on Researching Composing, wants to expand the nature and scope of research on the writing process. The editors argue that to do so, scholars in composition need to question their basic assumptions about how writing happens and be open to changing and revising their theories. Writing researchers, they argue, need to look at writers, not written products of published writers, for models of composing, and should look beyond English for answers to research questions – to rhetorical theory, developmental and cognitive psychology, education, and discourse theory. The essays – including those written by Britton, Young, Emig, and Murray – are therefore speculative and broad in scope, trying out new theories and ideas to open the door for further research and questioning in the composing process.

Quotable Quotes

purpose: “redirecting and revitalizing research in written composition” (xiii)

Notable Notes

value of teacher-research

Advertisements

Sommers, Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers

Sommers, Nancy. “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers.” CCC 31:4 (Dec 1980) 378-388.

Sommers argues that the field needs to focus and research how writers revise, and offers her case study of twenty students and 20 adult writers (from Boston and Oklahoma City) as a starting point. Each writer wrote three essays, revised them twice, and sat for interviews with Sommers about their revision strategies. Sommers found that students often focus on the word level when revising – they have what she deems a “thesaurus philosophy of writing” (381) – while the adults saw revision as an opportunity to shape their thoughts and discover the direction and meaning of their writing. Sommers stressed that the truncated view of writing students have – one in which they have a thesis before they even begin writing – does not allow them to engage in writing as a process of discovery or learning, and that teachers of writing need to show students that good writing allows for a holistic and recursive revision process, one that seeks dissonance and wrestles with meaning.

June 11, 2009

Schell and Stock, Moving a Mountain

Schell, Eileen E. and Pamela Lambert Stock. Moving a Mountain: Transforming the Role of Contingent Faculty in Composition Studies and Higher Education. Urbana: NCTE, 2001.

Schell and Stock have two main purposes for this collection of essays about contingent labor in composition: 1. to inform others in the field, especially WPAs, about the issues of contingent labor in composition teaching in the context of the changing 21st century university structure; and 2. to show the strategies some in the field are using to try to change the working conditions of contingent faculty (unionization, collective bargaining) with the hopes that these local changes can be the beginning of national policies. The collection consists of case studies from which guidelines can be extracted for working with contingent, non-tenure track faculty, including hiring practices, orientation, contracts, salaries and benefits, evalations, and professional development. Their collection concludes with essays that explain how non-tenure track faculty, who have become a staple labor force for the university, are instrumental to the 21st century university institutions want to become because of their willingness to take risks with new technology, to teach distance education online, and to engage in the scholarship of teaching.

Notable Notes

Schell’s essay – the 4 Cs: compensation, contracts, conditions, and coalition building. Turn to a “rhetoric of responsibility” between faculty, institutions, and students.

unions legitimize labor

advocate a proactive approach to the ethical problem of contingent labor

review of literature about contingent labor in the introduction, spans the 1980s (focus on social science and on the quality of teaching) through the 1990s (disciplinary attention and on working conditions, Wyoming Resolution)

lots of qualified people to fill non-tenure track contingent roles because of the explosion in MAs and PhDs

O’Neill, Crow, and Burton, Field of Dreams

O’Neill, Peggy, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002.

This collection focuses on independent writing programs, writing programs, majors, and graduate programs that have split off from traditonal English literary studies. The various case studies in the book show the challenges of independence: how the new program situates itself theoretically, politically, and institutionally, taking on questions of identity while trying to maintain daily operations. The editors hope that this collection, and the trend of independent writing programs, will help the field begin to define itself positively, by what they do, instead of in opposition to what they don’t do (traditional English studies.) The book is divided into three parts: 1. local case studies and their problems and possibilities 2. connections from local case studies to larger theoretical and ethical issues in the field 3. the future of the discipline and the place of rhetoric and composition in the changing 21st century university.

Quotable Quotes

“The creation of stand-alone writing units – whether programs or departments – provides us with an opportunity to define ourselves in new ways instead of against literature and literary scholarship. It is a chance to begin new and better academic traditions where we can enact what we value instead of spending our energy defending it” (9).

Notable Notes

the challenge of defining a vertical curriculum (a major) when the discipline is still being defined, negotiated

building a program means building a community

variety of ways these independent programs are formed: top-down, bottom-up, slowly, quickly, horizontal v. vertical curriculum

what traditions, values does the independent writing program adopt?

May 31, 2009

Fisher et al, The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age

Fisher, William, et al. “The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age.” Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. 9 August 2006. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2006/The_Digital_Learning_Challenge.

This white paper explores how educational initiatives that use digital technology have been hampered or shut down due to copyright restrictions and common, usually conservative attitudes about  copyright regulations. After explaining some of the many challenges to using copyrighted digital technology in the classroom (TEACH Act restrictions, DRM technology, unclear fair use laws, costly rights or licenses, and cautious gatekeepers), they show how these challenges have specifically held up four different educational initiatives that they treat as case studies. The white paper concludes with some suggestions for reform, including opening up technology restrictions and access, developing educator best-practice guidelines that interpret fair use, and legal reform. The white paper is the end product of a year-long study with scholars, librarians, lawyers, and educators who investigated the relationship between education and copyright law.

Notable Notes

DRM – digital rights management (also TPM – technological protection measures) – technological encypting that allows manufacturers, publishers to control how their digital data is used, reproduced

case studies – 1. network for new history teachers to share lessons & materials (problem with the copyrighted works used in the creation of those lessons) 2. DRM technology interfering with how professors of film studies can use and select scenes from DVDs to screen in their classrooms 3. the creation of a database of American music (New World Records), subscribed to by libraries, meant to increase access and 4. new ways of distributing for public broadcasting stations don’t jive with their copyright allowances, which give them greater freedom to broadcast on TV

for digital technology to transform education, copyright law needs to be revisited.

different zones of the globe have different DRM encryptions so DVDs can’t be watched in other countries, allowing for movies to be released on DVD and in the theaters at the same time in different places.

February 9, 2009

Council of Writing Program Administrators, Evaluating the Intellectual Work of Writing Administration

Council of Writing Program Administrators. “Evaluating the Intellectual Work of Writing Administration.” The Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for Writing Program Administrators. Eds. Irene Ward and William J. Carpenter. New York: Longman, 2002. Appendix F. 366-378.

First published in the 1996 Fall/Winter issue of WPA, this statement builds on the MLA Report “Making Faculty Work Visible” and argues that five specific areas of writing program administration work are intellectual work (dependent on faculty expertise, research, and knowledge, and worthy of tenure and promotion.) The five areas include program creation, curricular design, faculty development, program assessment and evaluation, and program-related textual production. The statement includes guidelines to evaluate this work, pointing out that not all work by every WPA should be considered intellectual work; only work that has produced knowledge which results in activities and products that can be peer-evaluated (whether that knowledge is innovation, improvement, dissemination, or empirical research results) should be considered scholarship. The goal of the Council is to prove how academic service, which consumes a WPA’s daily existence, is just as important, rewardable, and scholarly as faculty research and teaching.

Quotable Quotes

Administration “has for the most part been treated as a management activity that does not produce new knowledge and that neither requires nor demonstrates scholarly expertise and disciplinary knowledge” (366).

Goal: “refiguring writing administration as scholarly and intellectual work,” it is “worthy of tenure and promotion when it advances and enacts disciplinary knowledge within the field of Rhetoric and Composition” (366)

Notable Notes

exchange value and use value of teaching & research v. service

three tenure case studies of faculty who have concentrated in research, teaching, and service

not all service counts as scholarship – just that work that involves disciplinary knowledge (theory informing practice)

Ernest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered

January 27, 2009

Downs and Wardle, “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions”

Downs, Douglas and Elizabeth Wardle. “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning “First-Year Composition” as “Introduction to Writing Studies.” CCC 58.4 (June 2007) 552-585.

The authors argue for transforming the required first-year course, usually taught as a introduction to the skills necessary to write “academic discourse” into a course that introduces students to writing studies as a field, using their own courses at University of Dayton and Utah Valley State College as examples. The generalized first-year course stands in contradiction to many of the established, researched theories in rhetoric and composition: that all writing is content and context-driven, that writing is an area of research and study, that writing is a complex activity that requires more than good luck and “transferable” basic skills, and that experts in writing are needed to teach writing. Such a shift in the curriculum of the first-year course allows for better transitioning to WAC initiatives (because writing, from the very beginning, is grounded in content and context), gives the newly developing majors a cornerstone foundation course, and improves the position of writing at the university from a service discipline to one that is recognized by students and faculty as a field with valuable, relevant, and important research and theoretical knowledge.

Quotable Quotes

“Writing studies has ignored the implications of this research and theory and continued to assure its publics (faculty, administrators, parents, industry) that FYC can do what nonspecialists have always assumed it can: teach, in one or two early courses, “college writing” as a set of basic, fundamental skills that will apply in other college courses and in business and public spheres after college. In making these unsupportable assurances to stakeholders, our field reinforces cultural misconceptions of writing instead of attempting to educate students and publics out of these misconceptions” (1) page numbers are from printed online version

“Students leave the course with increased awareness of writing studies as a discipline, as well as a new outlook on writing as a researchable activity rather than a mysterious talent” (7).

“By employing nonspecialists to teach a specialized body of knowledge, we undermine our own claims as to that specialization and make our detractors’ argument in favor of general writing skills for them. As Debra Dew demonstrates, constructing curricula that require specialization goes a long way toward professionalizing the writing instruction workforce” (21).

Notable Notes

what the first-year course is reflects the whole discipline. Making it more rigorous and centering it on the field of rhet and comp will improve the status of rhet/comp.

category mistake – Gilbert Ryle – academic writing as one category of writing when it really cannot be defined as an umbrella term

problems/consequences of the shift: no textbook that teaches first-year writing in this way, huge labor force that needs to be trained, the research takes a long time and student work won’t be as clean or neat, high schools don’t prepare students for the field, so there’s a huge learning curve that needs to happen, content and expecatation-wise

courses that follow the intro to writing studies model use readings drawn from the research of the field of rhetoric and composition, allows students to explore their own writing practices in juxtaposition, and asks them to do research on writing.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.