Revolution Lullabye

July 6, 2009

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

February 23, 2009

McBeth, Memoranda of Fragile Machinery

McBeth, Mark. “Memoranda of Fragile Machinery: A Portrait of Shaughnessy as Intellectual-Bureaucrat.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 31:1-2, 2007.

McBeth, the WPA for ten years at the City College of New York, reconstructs Shaughnessy’s role as an administrator through both the archived material of the program, containing her published and unpublished administrative documents, and interviews with teachers and administrators who worked with her at CUNY. In this recovery project, McBeth presents an alternate perspective on the work of Shaughnessy, explicitly showing how her administrative work informed her ideas about basic writing, development of writers, and literacy, and how her work in managing a large writing program gave her a place where she could conduct and gather data for her research. McBeth describes the work of WPAs positively, contesting the pessamistic attitude that WPAs are just managers over a large system marked by unfair labor practices. McBeth argues that WPAs are more than just managers: they are intellectual-bureaucrats who use their knowledge and expertise in rhetoric and their understanding of the production of writing to lead effective, educationally sound, and progressive programs.

Quotable Quotes

“The oft-tedious bureaucratic labors we will inevitably face may not deter us from the publish-or-perish work we need to complete, but on the contrary, may lead us to it. Applying our scholarly scrutiny and creativity to the administrative positions we hold may prove to make the WPA’s labors both more fruitful and possibly more rewarding (perhaps even pleasurable.)” (62).

The records “show the intersection between her academic life as a scholar, teacher, and administrator and, additionally, how those roles necessarily coexist and inform one another.” (62).

Notable Notes

shows how Errors and Expectations is more than a pedagogy manual – it is an administrative argument about how to teach basic writing students and structure a program that will meet their needs.

mid-term and end-of-term evaluations were a key resource and research pool for Errors and Expectations

February 9, 2009

Hult, The Scholarship of Administration

Hult, Christine. “The Scholarship of Administration.” In Resituating Writing: Constructing and Administering Writing Programs. Eds. Joseph Janangelo and Kristine Hansen. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. 119-131.

Hult, a longtime member of the Council of Writing Program Administrators and an editor for WPA, argues two things: higher education needs to acknowledge and reward the work of WPAs as scholarship of administration and WPAs need to do a better job of convincing the academy of the scholarly nature of their work. She points out that WPAs do all four kinds of scholarship outlined by Boyer: application, integration, teaching, and discovery. This work is not service; it is intellectual scholarship because the writing and administrative work that WPAs do is rhetorical in nature, informed by disciplinary knowledge, and “published” (and has an impact) on a broad audience. To increase recognition of their work, WPAs should forward department chairs and deans important documents that they create, include administrative work under the “scholarship” section of their tenure and promotion cases instead of under “service,” and work to create an administrative portfolio that highlights their work, much like a teaching portfolio.

Quotable Quotes

“As WPAs, we shouldn’t succumb to the myth of the superhuman professor. Rather we should consciously direct our career paths in the best interest of both ourselves and our campus communities” (127) – can’t be a super-duper researcher, teacher, and administrator all at once

How to achieve recognition: “through agressive public relations, thoughtful publication, and careful documentation of our work” (130) to create systems to evaluate and reward WPA work.

The scholarship of administration: “The systematic, theory-based production and oversight of a dynamic program” – akin to music, theater, dance (126).

Notable Notes

Scholarship of application – creating programs, syllabi, training teachers, WPA is often the only composition scholar leading a teaching staff of non-specialists (different from a department chair administering over faculty)

Scholarship of integration – reading across disciplines, running WAC programs, incorporating technology in writing curriculum

Scholarship of discovery – published or not, informal and formal reseach into the program, working to keep programs reflective of the work in the field

Scholarship of teaching – evaluations, syllabi, course development

Section of the development and history of the journal WPA

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