Revolution Lullabye

July 6, 2009

Berlin, Rhetoric and Reality

Berlin, James A. Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900-1985. Carbondale, Southern Illinois UP, 1987.

Berlin traces the history of writing instruction in American colleges through three epistemological categories that have dominated rhetorical theory and practice since 1900: objective, subjective, and transactional. There is no one rhetoric – the rhetoric that informs a particular practice instructs students with a particular epistemology, a way of knowing and understanding the world. He surveys the dominant rhetorics in chapters that span twenty years (1900-1920; 1920-1940; 1940-1960), concluding with two chapters (1960-1975; 1975-1985) that try to capture the state of the emerging field of composition and rhetoric. His last chapter argues that all three epistemologies are present in composition and rhetoric research, but transactional rhetorics – ones that take into consideration the interplay between subject and object, the individual and society – lead the field.

Notable Notes

Objective – reality is in the external world and material objects, positivistic, current-traditional, language distorts truth, Scottish Common Sense realism, arrangement and correctness in writing, science

Subjective – truth exists within the subject and is discovered within, Plato, Emerson, Freud, cognitive psychology, romanticism, idealism, private, peer editing, therapist, voice, personal vision

Transactional – truth is at the intersection of subject and object, mediated by audience and language. Three kinds: classical (concerned with speaker, audience); cognitive (concerned with mind and nature, development); epistemic (concerned with speaker, audience, language, material reality; rhetoric is in all human behavior)

his history is written through articles, texts on rhetorical instruction history, textbooks

North, The Making of Knowledge in Composition

North, Stephen M. The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook, 1987.

Through his description of the major methodologies used by composition and rhetoric scholars, North argues that the future of Composition depends on two things: Composition’s break with literary studies and Composition’s ability to retain its plurality of methodologies, not allowing for one to overpower and prevent others from flourishing. North rejects that Composition is undergoing a Kuhn paradigm shift because he claims that the field is so diverse that it never had a paradigmatic structure. North divides the field into three branches of inquiry: the practicioners (who ask “what do we do?”); the scholars (who ask “what does it mean?”) and the researchers (who ask “what happened (or happens)?)  His book lays out a map through which to see and understand the field, noting interdisciplinary influences (humanities and science) and the influence of public policy and politics.

Notable Notes

dates the beginning of Composition to 1963 – Kitzhaber’s address to CCCC “4C and Freshman English” – move beyond just practicioner knowledge to a field, profession

what’s needed to maintain plurality of methodologies? 1. methodological consciousness 2. methodological egalitarianism 3. practice as inquiry 4. recognition and appreciation of lore

scholars include historians, philosophers, and critics

researchers include experimentalists, clinicians, formalists, and ethnographers

Gold, Rhetoric at the Margins

Gold, David. Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2008.

Gold researches the rhetorical education that took place at three Texas institutions during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to challenge and complicate master narratives of current-traditional pedagogy and the history of rhetorical education, hoping to draw connections between past the past and present to develop pedagogies to serve underrepresented student populations. The three colleges – Wiley College (an classics-oriented HBCU), Texas Women’s University (residential college for women with vocational training), and East Texas Normal College (independent teacher-training school) – each employed a rhetorical education that was nuanced and spoke directly to the liberatory needs of their marginalized student populations. Gold’s introduction and conclusion explains his methodology of historiography and archival research, arguing that the future of the discipline lies in understanding its diverse pedagogical and theoretical (progressive movement) past. American higher education is decentralized, so local histories are necessary for understanding what happened in rhetorical education.

Quotable Quotes

“We cannot make broad claims about the development of rhetorical education without examining the diverse range of student bodies and institutions that participated in such education” … “It is often in provincial regions where demographic and social changes are first felt and where innovation and progressive change may first take place” (7).

“When it comes to rhetoric and composition studies, schools that have traditionally formed the basis for historical study may be among the least productive places to look” (7)

Current-traditional pedagogy is actually a collection of many practices: “both conservative and radical, liberatory and disciplining, and subject to wide-ranging local and institutional variation” (5).

Notable Notes

his study validates vocational, practical education – it is liberatory for some students

Cooper, The Ecology of Writing

Cooper, Marilyn. “The Ecology of Writing.” College English. 48:4 (April 1986): 364-375.

Cooper critiques the process movement for focusing on the individual, ahistorical and context-free writer and advocates for a new way to understand and research writing: by considering writing as a social act that takes place within ecologies of overlapping systems. She names five systems through which people interact with each other through writing: the system of ideas, of purposes, of interpersonal interactions, of cultural norms, and of textual forms. Cooper argues that writing is more than a way of thinking; it is an action and a social act.

Quotable Quotes

“The belief on which [process] is based – that writing is thinking, and, thus, essentially a cognitive process – obscures many aspects of writing we have come to see as not peripheral.” (365).

Systems “are made and remade by writers in the act of writing…writing changes social reality” (368).

Notable Notes

full understanding of the process movement? was it all about isolated individual writers?

post-process

June 29, 2009

Hult, et al, The Portland Resolution

Hult, Christine, et al. “The Portland Resolution: Guidelines for Writing Prorgam Administrator Positions.” WPA 16 1/2 (Fall/Winter 1992): 88-94.

This position statement outlines the guidelines the Council of WPA are necessary for both ensuring ethical working conditions of writing program administrators and developing WPA job descriptions. Working conditions include having a written job description (who you supervise, who supervises you,  load and tenure stipulations); having a full-time position with job security, benefits, and travel equal to a faculty member; having access to other units and higher university administrators; and having adequate resouces and budget to fund the program. A WPA should have training in the field of rhetoric and composition and can be responsible for any of the following duties: scholarship of administration; faculty development (TA training); writing program development (curriculum, hiring, WAC); assessment at all levels; registration and scheduling; office management; counseling and advising; and coordinating with other university programs (ESL, education, academic support, remedial.)

CCCC, Students’ Right to Their Own Language

Conference on College Composition and Communication. “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.” CCC 25 (Fall 1974).

This publication of the CCCC’s position statement on students’ right to use their own language in their composition classes contains background information and a bibliography about the sociolinguistics research the committee used to create the statement. The statement asserts that there is no one standard dominant American dialect, and to require students to conform to one and abandon their home dialects is discriminatory and assimilationist. The statement also argues that teachers of writing need to be given the training they need to allow them to teach students who bring a wide variety of dialects and languages into the classroom. The statement does allow for the teaching of EAE (educated American English) to help students prepare to get jobs after college, but that instruction of EAE must be done in a way that respects and validates their home langauge. College writing and composition courses should be a place where students learn about code-switching, not abandoning their culture and heritage, which is intrinsic to their language use. English teachers must take the lead in public debates about language use and educate the public through research in and knowledge of modern linguistics.

Quotable Quotes

“A nation proud of its diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects. We affirm strongly that teachers must have the experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of students to their own language.”

Notable Notes

extensive bibliography of resources that led to the statement

background information contains basic linguistics information that every English teacher should know (what they said)

Writing Majors at a Glance

“Writing Majors at a Glance.” Committee on the Major in Rhetoric and Composition. NCTE. 9 January 2009. <http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Groups/CCCC/Committees/Writing_Majors_Final.pdf> 13 April 2009.

This is a list, compiled by the CCCC Committee on the Major in Rhetoric and Composition, of the 62 institutions (mostly US – one from Canada and one from Australia) that reported to have a major within the field of rhetoric and composition. Few are from independent writing or rhetoric departments. The list does not include creative writing majors or associate or graduate programs. The majors (both BA and BS) fall into several categories: general writing studies (often combined with literature in some way), technical writing, professional writing & publishing, multimedia writing, rhetoric and writing, and broader writing and communication majors. The list contains the name of the institution, deparatment, and degree; a description of the major; required courses for the major; and contact information.

Veysey, The Emergence of the American University

Veysey, Laurence R. The Emergence of the American University. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1965.

Veysey’s history of the American university, which he tries to write on a middle level (not about one institution, but not oversimplified) is divided into two parts: 1. the competiting academic philosophies that shaped the American university in the second half of the 19th century and 2. the development of the university’s structure, a bureaucratic administration and the administration’s relationship to the faculty and students of the emerging university. The American university was in a crisis immediately after the Civil War: it was not a place young men went to move up the social ladder (they went to the cities to learn business, law, and medicine), and it was seen to many as an archiac institution. The available conditions at the time – the promise and potential of European universities, the presence of new capital and philanthropic giving, and a desire to keep the university as an important part of American life – helped turn the university around, so that by the 20th century, it was as influential as the Church was in the 1700s. The modern American university is a distinct system, not directly modeled after the German research university. It is an institution that is not coherent or cohesive, but its tensions allow for constant negotiation, flexibility, and vitality.

Quotable Quotes

The university administrators “might almost as easily have promoted any other sort of American enterprise.” (443).

for the faculty: “the university offered a convenient intermediate pattern of behavior, somewhere between a business career and exile” (443).

Notable Notes

four educational philosophies that competed in the late 19th century:

  1. Discipline and Piety – the old college model, concerned with the soul, manly character, mental powers, Chirstianity, study the ancient classics, discipline and codes for students, little academic freedom. This died out and was replaced by the other three models.
  2. Utility – practical education for a wide variety of fields, workshops, connection to the outside world, democracy, vocations, John Dewey, elective system, secular, applied science, Morrill Act, civil service and civic duty, progressive era
  3. Reseach – experimentation, labs, German research model (Americans changes this into specialized disciplines), professional autonomy, research for its own sake, pursuit of knowledge, skeptism, science, not concerned with undergraduate teaching.
  4. Liberal Culture – humanities in the new university, new modern classics, culture, taste, unity of all life, breadth, cultivation, character, aesthetics, Oxford and Cambridge, English models, philosophy and literature, well-rounded, humanity, Western Civ, rescue the boorish American, charismatic lecturer, successful in small colleges with research or graduate programs.

academic administrators were bureaucrats, businessmen who planned and managed the university

academic freedom – progressive era reform that allows for flexibility – move towards tolerance, a blended university that allows for eccentric intellectuals

June 24, 2009

Tobin and Newkirk, Taking Stock

Tobin, Lad and Thomas Newkirk, eds. Taking Stock: The Writing Process Movement in the 90s. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 1994.

This collection comes from a 1992 conference, “The Writing Process: Prospect and Retrospect,” held at UNH and designed both to look at the process movement’s past and where it might go in the future. In his introduction to the edited collection, Tobin predicts that the writing process movement will change in the 90s due to three factors: the influence of gender, race, class, and culture on the teaching and theorizing about writing; the effect of new technologies on the teaching and theorizing of writing (PCs, online teaching, popular media); and the effect of research on teacher and reader response. These three trends will expand the scope of the process movement beyond the individual expressivist writer, giving larger social and political context to writing. The book has five sections: Reading the Writing Process Movement, Teaching the Writing Process, Institutionalizing the Writing Process, Deconstructing the Writing Process, and Narrating the Writing Process.

Quotable Quotes & Notable Notes

Lisa Ede “Reading the Writing Process.” 31-43

The writing process movement should stop being labeled “good” or “bad” – it was a rhetorically situated movement, created due a particular time and place (the literacy crisis of the 1970s led to the theory if we understand how students write we can teach them better and composition asserting itself as a discipline.) The problem is that all that research was oversimplified into a “process” that was only taught in one course; the British theories of growth and education were ignored as process was mechanized and the diversity of students was eliminated. Process is actually a conglomerate of lots of contradictory pedagogies and methods: freewriting, formal heuristics, sentence combining, protocol analysis, case studies, and theory. Ede argues that the field must look at writing beyond the classroom, especially those kinds of workplace writing that don’t follow our idea of process; abandon the individual writer focus and look at collaboration; and question our models and metaphors in our research. The focus, she argues, needs to be on doing what needs to be done in regards to teaching and understanding writing – not focusing on being a discipline.

James Marshall, “Of What Skill Does Writing Really Consist?” 45-55

“In our youth as a movement we were rebels, or tried to be. We did inhale. We self-consciously set ourselves up as outsiders, and then we gloried in it” (48).

“The one serious mistake we could make, I think, would be to maintain the rhetorical and political positions that we took in our youth. They worked then; I don’t think they can work today. We are facing a different set of problems, and we are working now from the center and not from the margins.” (54)

Three things to do:

  1. deal with our authority and our disciplinary place in the academy – no longer rebels. We’re established.
  2. search for theoretical roots in education and the progressive movement to have models and understand what we do.
  3. open up larger contexts and sites to study and teach writing.

Thomas Newkirk “The Politics of Intimacy.” 115-131.

Looks at how Barrett Wendell’s English 12 course at Harvard was not a course in what we think as current-traditional rhetoric. Rather, Wendell tried to open up relations with his students, talk with them as emerging writers, read student writing aloud in class as models, encouraged critique of the course, and gave them choices for topics. His curriculum, though, was doomed because it never received institutional support and was defeated by a heavy, impossible teaching load that made current-traditional pedagogy the only viable way to teach.

Mary Minock. “The Bad Marriage: A Revisionist View of James Britton’s Expressive-Writing Hypothesis in American Practice.” 153-175.

James Britton argued that expressive writing will naturally lead to other forms of writing over time, as a student grows and matures through years of schooling. American writing educators took that hypothesis and combined it with the American ideal of linear progress. What results is a one-semester course in writing that tries to bring college students from expressive writing to academic argument in fifteen short weeks. When this fails (as it often does, because the important quotient of time is left out), students and teachers alike feel like failures. Writing teachers need to stop trying to formalize and speed up the process of learning how to write: a student might do well on one paper and bomb the next, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t growing and learning. Instead of using expressive writing as an end to itself(which the British do), we use it as a means to an end, an end of academic discourse.

Harris, A Teaching Subject

Harris, Joseph. A Teaching Subject: Composition Since 1966. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Harris traces the history of the teaching of writing and how the teaching of writing was talked about through five key terms: growth, voice, process, error, and community. His account begins with the 1966 Dartmouth Conference, and it relies on published articles, books, and textbooks in the field for historical evidence, debates over the terms, and trends. He does not present an argument for composition as a theoretical field of inquiry; rather, he sees composition’s inherent ties to education and the classroom as important and needing to be asserted and validated. He traces the process movement through the 1960s and 1970s, and then uses community as the key term to organize his history about the social and political turn in composition. The last chapter is a reprint of his CCC article “The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing,” in which he problematizes the term, saying that it posits an ideal, homongenous, warm and happy view of a community. Instead, Harris argues that we need to move even beyond contact zones – which give people fixed cultural identies and affinities – to recognizing the multiple identites and voices that writers and students negotiate at all times.

Notable Notes

Dartmouth Conference: British (K-12) interested in growth and teaching; Americans (university) were interested in professionalization of the field, research, becoming recognized academics

two different ideas of voice: that of the individual writer, emerging from inside (expressivist movement, Elbow, Murray) v. voices that are outside the writer that the writer must learn to orchestrate and control (Barthes, Bakhtin, Derrida, Bartholomae, influenced by Theodore Baird at Amherst)

goal of composition, process: critical thinking, habits of mind, arete (virtues necessary for democracy)

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