Revolution Lullabye

April 6, 2009

Horning, Ethics and the jWPA

Horning, Alice. “Ethics and the jWPA.” In Untenured Faculty as Writing Program Administrators: Institutional Practices and Politics. Eds. Dew and Horning. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2007. 40-57.

Horning argues that it is unethical for untenured faculty members to serve as writing program administrators. She defends her claim by using the ethical arguments of W.D. Ross (who draws on Biblical teachings, especially from the Old Testament) and Kant. jWPAs don’t have the expertise and experience that they need to be cross-curricular, all-university faces of writing programs and to do the managerial duties (scheduling, changing curriculum, hiring, firing) that are required of a WPA. Veteran faculty and senior WPAs in the field need to look out for jWPAs – even those who want the challenge of the position – by issuing a national policy statement against it.

Quotable Quotes

“It is unethical with junior faculty without tenure to hold WPA positions.” (40).

Notable Notes

WD Ross – Deuteronomy 22:10 – it is unlawful to yoke an ass and ox together because of the discrepancy in the ability to work.

Ross’s ethics rely on the idea of DUTY: 1st is fidelty – Promise-keeping: A department makes promises to a new hire and needs to give them the space and time to concentrate on teaching and scholarship, which will be what they are evaluated for tenure on (also this focus is repeated in the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics)

Kant – don’t use people as a means to an end

senior faculty allowing eager junior faculty to serve as WPA is wrong – such a position is harmful to health, family life, and career – it’s like allowing a kid to pig out on candy

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March 9, 2009

Wysocki, The Sticky Embrace of Beauty

Wysocki, Anne Frances. “The Sticky Embrace of Beauty: On Some Formal Problems in Teaching about the Visual Aspects of Texts.” In Writing New Media. Eds. Anne Frances Wysocki, et al. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2004. 147-198.

Wyscoki argues for an alternative understanding of beauty, aesthetic, and form that is grounded in the local and the particular rather than universal generalities and maxims that visual designers use for composing images and texts, universal rules that were developed first through Kant’s philosophy. Kant believed that the judgment of beauty is inherent and universal, happening when a person sees and appreciates its structure in terms of its formal relations. This allows the object (or body) deemed beautiful to be made abstract and distanced, a dangerous ethical situation. Wysocki, seeing this tension, argues that composition teachers, instead of just teaching students about design by instructing them in general, accepted rules for visual arrangment, should question the social and cultural practices that deem something efficient, pleasing, or visual, analyzing and creating to make what we take for granted unfamiliar to us so that we might appreciate and understand its particularities. In this way, she shows how form is rhetorical, informed and mediated by choices grounded in history and cultural context.

Quotable Quotes

How can we teach visual communication in such a way “That form does not override content, so that form is, in fact, understood as itself part of content, so that, finally, I better understand how to support students (and myself) be generously and questioningly recipricoal in our designings” (144)

“Form is itself always a set of structuring principles, with different forms growing out of and reproducing different but specific values” (159).

“If we believe that to be human is to be tied to place and time and messiness and complexity, then, by so abstracting us, this desire dehumanizes us and our work and how we see each other. This is dangerous.” (169)

“The web of social and cultural practices in which we move give us the words and concepts, as well as the tastes, for understanding what we sense” (171).

Notable Notes

Kant Critique of Judgment

The New Yorker Peek advertisement – woman’s body

design elements aren’t neutral – design values can’t just be looked at analytically….ours are grounded in industrializaiton, standardization, linear, order, efficiency (Nazi memos)

assignments ask students to learn design principles deductively by gathering designs. Also, redesigning web sites and textbooks

reciprocal relationship – we need “approaches that see form as this kind of recognition, tying us to others and to our times and places” (170)

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