Revolution Lullabye

November 15, 2010

Enos, Keeping (in) Our Places, Keeping Our Two Faces

Enos, Theresa. “Keeping (in) Our Places, Keeping Our Two Faces.” .” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 247-252. Print.

Enos questions whether creating stand-alone departments of writing is really beneficial to the people in the field and the place of the discipline at the institution. She argues that the independent programs that seem to be emerging focus primarily on the more practical, career-oriented aspects of composition instead of on the histories, theories, and practices of rhetoric, a move she argues both hurts composition and rhetoric’s place in the university (perpetuates its identity as a skills-based discipline instead of a “metadiscipline” with both theory and methodology) and does not prepare undergraduates for graduate level work in rhetoric and composition. She wonders if the departmentalization of independent writing departments might further marginalize writing at the university.

Notes and Quotes

She points out that most independent programs and departments are housed in small liberal arts colleges and some 4-year universities; there are very few in comprehensive or research universities (she notes Syracuse as a primary exception to this, and also Syracuse, she points out, is one of the few stand-alone departments that houses a PhD program.)

Will PhDs in rhetoric/composition – or “composition specialists” as they’ll no doubt be named – be turned out only to become permanent non-tenure-track instructors?” (252)


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 8, 2009

Logie, Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion

Logie, John. Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2006.

Logie addresses through rhetorical historicism five terms used to describe sharing in the peer-to-peer debates (hacking, theft, piracy, sharing, and war), arguing that in order to understand the basis of the arguments on both sides of the debate, we must throughly investigate the language through which those arguments are being made. He believes that current copyright restrictions, including DMCA and the TEACH Act, are limiting the potential of people to create new culture and ideas. Logie argues that the composition classroom, where students are taught about the social nature of composition, plagiarism, individual authorship, and intellectual property, is an important place to talk with students about the rhetoric, language, and arguments behind these debates and to teach them how they might argue for a copyright law that allows for the creative potential the Internet promises.

Quotable Quotes

“And while the stakes of intellectual property debates ultimately devolve to who gets paid how much and when, the mechanism for assuring fair compensation—a limited monopoly right—has profound consequences for the circulation and availability of cultural artifacts.”(8)

“Digital media offer opportunities to efficiently archive and access the bulk of artistic and intellectual work created since the dawn of humanity.

This is not an overstatement. The potential intellectual and social utility of these now-hypothetical archives is staggering. Our challenge is to engage in a principled argument about how best to achieve this goal. ” (21)

“[RIAA and other big media corporations] had persuaded most Americans that the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet—whatever the context and purpose—was illegal. This victory was achieved in large part because of the successful rhetorical strategies of the content industries. And once these industries had persuaded Americans that downloading was criminal, the logical next step was to ensure that it was perceived as

violent crime.” (66)

“The past decade’s major legislative amendments to copyright—in particular the Copyright Term Extension Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the No Electronic Theft Act, and the TEACH Act—collectively constitute a disastrous appropriation of rights, privileges, and opportunities formerly understood to belong to the public at large. At the very moment that the most powerful cultural tool in human history—the networked personal computer—has become both widely available and largely affordable, the U.S. is busily drafting laws that reinforce a copyright model optimized long ago for the circulation of print-based media.” (141)

Notable Notes

how ethos and pathos play into both sides of the debate, Burkean identification

no statistical significance on the economic effect of P2P sharing on record companies…Napster failed to show how most of its activity was not the theft of protected commercial property, but rather sharing of free culture for the public good

piracy = theft by force, kidnapping, murdering, violence

Napster, P2P file sharers aren’t targetted for downloading but for uploading – for distribution

sound quality of MP3 and CD – two different purposes

limits ability of cut and pasting with purchased Adobe e-books

February 23, 2009

Phelps, Composing Administration as a Writer

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Composing Administration as a Writer.” CCCC 1996.

The theories and practices of writing, the expertise of a composition and rhetoric scholar, can be the source for a WPA’s administrative strategies in four distinctive ways: the WPA can use her own writing to complete the intellectual and bureuacratic tasks of administration; the WPA can foster a writing community in the program; the WPA can make writing a root metaphor the work that happens in the program, transforming the program jargon and thinking; and the WPA can write scholarship about administrative practice and reflection. A WPA who uses writing in these ways is using writing in its many functions simulataneously. Those functions of writing include institutional invention, performative, framing, contact, and identity formation. Being delberate about using writing to administrate bridges the gap between author and agency, showing that administrative structures do have human faces and are, like all humans, adaptive creatures able to change.

Quotable Quotes

.”Most people mean by administration “whatever the administrator does,” but my analysis demonstrates that the functions and genres of administration are simultaneously something an individual “composes” and also a widespread, diverse set of cultural activities and structures mediated by texts and socially produced genres. Unfortunately, the ambiguity of agency and action in administration does not show up in our usage of the word. When we look at writing as a surrogate for “administration,” though, we discover that what administrators do best is to orchestrate and respond to this complex activity. Administration is all the work that gets done. Administration is the organizational structures and processes and roles—and the genres—in terms of what happens.  It is not simply what the administrator does, or autonomously composes” (12-13)

“I’m suggesting that the administrator who employs writing as a preferred tool for problem-solving and conducting daily business is likely to find herself on a slippery slope, the relationship between writing and administration sliding constantly from the instrumental use of writing as a practical tool toward the metaphoric identification of administration with writing and rhetoric. This prospect is enhanced when the administrator’s strategies and metaphoric resources for practicing administration derive not only from personal experience as an academic, technical, or creative writer and a literate person, but also from the scholarly investigation of written language.” (2)

Notable Notes

framing is managing meaning by putting one metaphor, one way to view reality, over other through metaphors, stories, spin, etc.

genres and administrative writing are multifunctional. The same document can have many purposes.

February 19, 2009

Scott, “The Practice of Usability”

Scott, J. Blake. “The Practice of Usability: Teaching User Engagement through Service-Learning.” Technical Communication Quarterly 17.4 381-412.

Teaching about user-centered design and usability is different from practicing it. This article, categorized as teacher research by the author, centers on the author’s introductory technical writing students, who are asked to enact user-centered design principles in their service learning projects at an Orlando-area HIV planning council (which distributes services to HIV patients in the area.) The students demonstrate knowledge of user-centered design principles, which (like participatory design) integrate the user in the process of design, treating the user(s) not as clients but rather as collaborators. This kind of design process is complex, messy, and complicated, and the author finds that even though students intellectually understand the merits and values of the process, they do not succeed in enacting it. Scott concludes that more time is needed in the classroom – and in the scholarship of the field – dedicated to discussing and talking about the practices of user-centered design. These practical issues, which he describes as metis (flexible intelligence) are breezed over, but they (how to gain access to users, how to communicate with them, how to set deadlines, how to research the institution and the potential users) are the key to implementing a user-centered design and having a successful service-learning experience for both the students and the community organization.

Quotable Quotes

The study shows how his students “gradually came to understand usability as a situated, dynamic, messy, and difficult process and set of practices involving various user-engagement challenges and requiring the flexible adaptation of usability methods” (384).

Our scholarship on user-centered design or service learning “often stop short of foregrounding or even addressing practice-level issues” (406). We need to make “such practices visible” (406)

“By foregrounding the context-specific, complex, difficult, and dynamic practice of usability for students, we can help them develop a flexible intelligence that can serve them as technical communicators and rhetors more generally” (406).

Notable Notes

Cited works: Spinuzzi, Robert Johnson (user-centered design), Huckin (service-learning and technical writing), Linda Flower, JT Grabill

connection between participatory design and user-centered design

data included student assignments, interviews with the students, and pre-and post-course questionnaires, coding responses

25 students from two sections of introductory technical writing in Spring 2005 (research done the following semester)

best to introduce concept of usability in advanced technical writing class or as part of a two-semester sequence because of how much time a complicated service project takes incorportating user-centered design.

ease-based v. user-based design (401)

focusing on practice-level issues is like the classical pedagogical technique of imitation (mimesis) – not straight imitation but rather “a creative process of rearranging and reconstructing rhetorical elements in light of kairos” (404)

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