Revolution Lullabye

November 16, 2010

Maid, More than a Room of Our Own

Maid, Barry M. “More Than a Room of Our Own: Building an Independent Department of Writing.” The Writing Program Administrator’s Handbook: A Guide to Reflective Institutional Change and Practice. Ed. Stuart C. Brown, Theresa Enos, and Catherine Chaput. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002. 453-466. Print.

Maid explains the considerations a WPA must think about when creating an independent writing program or department. He addresses institutional, faculty, and budget issues in creating a stand-alone program. He argues that WPA must always be aware of how their institutional context both constrains them and gives them opportunities, urging WPAs creating stand-alone programs to tap into their institution’s missions, which they could use in an argument for how an independent program could better serve the institution’s mission.

Notes and Quotes

“Far too many faculty in English Departments think that specializing in rhetoric and composition means specializing in First Year students” (460).

“What we can say, I think, is that minimum requirements for teaching FYC be training in rhetoric and composition and continuing professional development” (458).

cites Katherine Adams A History of Professional Instruction in American Colleges (stand-alone programs started from the turn of the century.)

faculty issues: reconstitute what service is, all faculty do administration, rewrite tenure guidelines (like Syracuse did)

institutional issues: what’s in the writing program (WAC, FYC, writing center, other), create and offer upper division courses to extend composition beyond the identity of first-year composition, think about where you place it and name it. Argues for using rhetoric.

budget issue – tap into student service fees for writing center; faculty development for WAC. Don’t build a program on one-time grants.


June 17, 2009

Royster and Williams, History in the Spaces Left

Royster, Jacqueline Jones and Jean C. Williams. “History in the Spaces Left: African American Presence and Narratives of Composition Studies.” CCC 50:4 (June 1999) 563-584.

Any history that is written has important political consequences. Royster and Williams argue that African American contributions to the history of composition and rhetoric, beginning in the 19th century, have been largely ignored by the dominant historical narratives written in the field, which has resulted in a continued representation of African Americans as a marginalized Other, characterized by Open Admissions and basic writing. The research base for understanding the history of the field needs to be broadened, and Royster and Williams showcase this by presenting three cases of African Americans – Alain Locke, Hallie Quinn Brown, and Hugh M. Gloster – who contributed to the theory and practice of rhetoric and composition in the 19th and early 20th century. Royster and Williams also briefly trace the history of African American higher education, highlighting the importance of HBCUs in educating African Americans before the Open Admissions push of the 1960s.

Quotable Quotes

Questions to ask to recover marginalized histories: “For whom is this claim true? For whom is it not true? What else is happening? What are the operating conditions?” (581)

effect of dominant histories: “the other viewpoints are inevitably positioned in non-universal space and peripheralized, and the exclusion of suppressed groups, whether they intend it or not, is silently, systematically reaffirmed.” (565)

Notable Notes

resist primacy

conflation of basic writers with students of color

Morrill Act, HBCUs

students in histories are seen as generic, apolitical, without race or gender or sexuality

review of many of the histories of the field

June 16, 2009

Norman, Emotional Design

Norman, Donald. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 2004.

Designers must account for people’s emotional and cognitive responses to three aspects or levels inherent in  any design: visceral (immediate, automatic, appearance-based); behavioral (function, pleasure and effectiveness of use); and reflective (personal satisfaction through memories, self-image, intellectualization.) The things we like act as symbols to us and have meaning in our lives. Norman describes and shows many examples of designs that successfully tap into a person’s affect – their subconscious value judgments that translate into emotions. Good designs are also rhetorical: they fit a particular context, culture, location, and audience, so no one design can be univerally appealing. Good designers are those who are able to keenly observe people’s behaviors and tap into people’s unarticulated needs, seeing the product not as a decontextualized thing but something that is used by someone.

Quotable Quotes

William Morris: If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  (“The Beauty of Life” 1880)

“The emotional side of design may be more critical to a product’s success than its practical elements” (5)

Notable Notes

cupholders as an unarticulated consumer need

personalization and customization

good designs seduce people – Csikszentmihalyi’s flow

success at the reflective level can outweigh the other two aspects – visceral and behavioral

January 13, 2009

Schwalm, “The Writing Program Administrator in Context”

Schwalm, David E. “The Writing Program Administrator in Context: Where Am I, and Can I Still Behave Like a Faculty Member?” In The Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for Writing Program Administrators. Eds. Irene Ward and William J. Carpenter. New York: Longman, 2002. 9-22.

Schwalm argues that the WPA position is a unique faculty and administrative positition because it requires a faculty member (usually a junior faculty member) to give up part of their independent, autonomous faculty identity and engage in administrative work that they may not have been trained to do. With that in mind, he offers a guide for new WPAs, organized through questions that many WPAs either have (or should have) to understand their new administrative role. His questions include “Where am I” (institutionally situated in what program or school), “Is my job real?”, “What do I direct”, and other questions that get at the structure of the university administration, how your institution is connected to and related to other universities and colleges, and a brief overview of how the budget works. Schwalm strongly suggests that WPAs read higher education administration literature so that they can anticipate trends and participate more fully in adminstration instead of always reacting to directives that they might not fully understand.

Quotable Quotes

“Authority and accountability usually go hand in hand” (14)

Notable Notes

The difference between cost and fund accounting

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