Revolution Lullabye

October 24, 2013

Gubar, Our Brilliant Career: Women in English, 1973-2010

Gubar, Susan. “Our Brilliant Career: Women in English, 1973-2010.” College English 76.1 (September 2013): 12-28.

Gubar uses her own personal career trajectory – her work as a professor in the Indiana University English Department from 1973 through 2010 – to comment on the state of the humanities in 21st century U.S. higher education and the shifting forces that have affected women’s careers in the humanities over this span of 37 years. She calls in her article for women to protect and advocate for the gains they have made in the academy for the sake of future generations of women scholars and their students. She also argues for the necessity of the humanities in 21st century American society, contending that its decreased influence and presence on college campuses today threatens our democratic society and culture. Her article shows in vivid detail the specific challenges women faced in the academy, ranging from professoinal dress to juggling the demands of family and spousal commitments with increased service and administrative expectations as funding and time for research diminished in the 1980s and 1990s.

Notable Notes

“the wives” – juxtaposition of the English faculty gatherings in 1973 and 2010. “The wives” formed a collective, many had just as stellar credentials as their husbands or the newly hired female faculty, but they were relegated to a supporting cast. There was tension between these “wives” and the new female faculty – the “wives” were never able to be, never allowed to be, what the new female faculty were. (contrast to today’s “mommy wars”)

In contrast, the “husbands” and the “partners” of faculty in the 1990s and 2000s never formed the same kind of collective, as the husbands, wives, and partners often had their own careers. What this marks is a shift in departmental culture from 1973 to 2010 – now it is much more disperse.

change in departmental male/female ratio – in 1973, there were 73 faculty (4 women). In 2010, there were 47 faculty (23 women)

the feminization of the humanities (13) – referring to the place of the humanities at institutions of higher education, but how does that term serve to blame women entering the profession for the demise of the humanities? (13)

central question – what has happened to women in English as the humanities have become devalued, and what has happened to feminist criticism in the humanities? (13)

long lists of names of former female colleagues who left IU, left the profession

Gubar was in the first wave of women hires – early 1970s

touches on issues of dress, pregnancy, nursing, having children in the midst of a career, being single v. married in a college town

change in faculty replacement hires: instead of one-for-one or growing the department in the 1970s, less and less tenure-track faculty were hired – cutbacks (18)

When less faculty are hired, the workload remains the same, so the younger (and more female) faculty teach more and larger classes, direct more theses and dissertations, and take on higher service loads (18). At the same time, tenure expectations were raised.

increased specialization leads to less focus on a local institution/department and more attention to research, a national discipline and conversation (and empty department hallways). Problem of faculty retention (20; 22).

as women rose in ranks, woman-woman rivalry increased: women were torn between protecting younger women and giving honest evaluations, increased competition for limited research funds, salary compression and inversion (21).

today’s problems: gulf btwn K-12 and university education, international and multilingual students, tension btwn education and comp/rhet field, online education (26)

Quotable Quotes

“The conjunction of women’s successful integration into the humanities and the attenuation of the humanities is not causal, I believe, but rather concurrent and coincidental” (13).

“In retrospect, I sometimes think of my cohort as ‘the lost generation’; for a variety of reasons, few of them could or would stay the course” (17).

“As the ranks of senior male professors dwindled through retirement, mid-level women often had to become what is called ‘heavy lifters’: they had to staff so many service-oriented activities or engage in so much advising and mentoring that their research tended to suffer” (18).

“People became less grounded in local university business, more active with colleagues around the country who shared their fields of specialization” (19).

“To use a buzzword that encapsulates the situation, the erosion of herteronormativity that began first with the disappearance of ‘the wives,’ and then with the appearance of lesbians on the faculty, gained momentum” (23).

“the contraction or depopulation of the humanities at the present moment” (24) – less students, graduate TAs/PhD candidates, faculty…focus on vocational, job training, sciences, business, etc. More reliance on contingent faculty to teach, fewer tenure lines

“For all our activism inside the academy, feminists have failed to surmount the multiple forces that conspired to marginalize the profession, and therefore we have failed to insure the future of our sucessors or, indeed, of our own benefits and environments” (25).

“How do I honor the equity that women have attained in the beleaguered humanities without worrying that their presence has contributed to the feminization of the profession, driving men from it and thereby further downgrading its prestige and currency in the culture?” (26).

“Never has a democratic culture needed the critical reading, writing, and interpretive skills practiced and taught by our profession more than now” (26).

“We must sustain what we fought so hard to attain” (27).


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.

November 15, 2010

Miller, Managing to Make a Difference

Miller, Thomas P. “Managing to Make a Difference.” 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. 253-267. Print.

Miller argues that the discipline and independent writing programs and departments in particular need to draw on rhetorical theories and concepts to answer some of the challenges that stand-alone writing programs and departments face. He asks and explores the question, “What is rhetoric and what good is it?”, in order to point out the rich theories and ideas available to the field, a comprehensive history of rhetoric as a humanistic, pragmatic discipline. He disagrees with the idea that creating stand-alone departments with tenured faculty will increase the standing of the discipline at the university, questioning why rhetoric and composition would want to buy into a tenure system that privileges insular, specialized conversation separate from the practical outside world which is the place where civic rhetoric occurs. He argues that investing the teaching of writing with the power and practicality of rhetoric could help reverse the unethical treatment of contingent faculty; that the current university structure, with its positioning of writing as a skills-based course, is supported by the continual turnover of teachers. He uses the metaphor of bifocals to argue that independent writing programs need to continue shifting back and forth between attending to the local needs of their students and faculty and the larger moves in the field and the university structure, finding a progressive place where they can do civic rhetorical work.

Notes and Quotes

“Such systems for making the teaching of writing manageable can make it invisible, in part by keeping writing teachers moving on from institution to institution, where they become but fleeting shadows in crowded hallways who can be ignored by ‘regular’ faculty. The invisible men and women of the profession haunt our dreams as we haunt theirs, much like Ellison’s Invisible Man, whose main character looked to a prestigious college to gain professional standing and left with nightmares that his letter of recommendation amounted to a single line: keep this boy running. One way that the higher educational system has kept itself running is by keeping teachers of writing on the move, looking to find a place for themselves in a profession that has depended upon their absence for its sense of itself” (266).

“If rhetoric is to become an aid in negotiating the conflicted goals of writing programs, we must expand our fields of vision to include the domains where it has practical import” (265). Social movements, political movements, state educational systems, institutional reform, labor organizing, organizational communication

“What is rhetoric and what good is it?” – “A rhetorical stance is oriented to purposeful action, not merely criticizing or theorizing, but applying critical understanding to the question of what and how one should act in this situation here and now.” (260).

Some of the concepts he uses – phronesis (practical wisdom as an alternative to scientific inquiry); collapsing the binary of teaching and research by shifting to a third alternative: service (seeing differences as the possibility for a new alternative); rhetoric’s focus on the arts of citizenship (bridging the service orientation of composition with the university’s desire to be seen as an active member of its community); understanding the rhetorical situation and contextual resources of each writing program (designing within rhetorical constraints).

“Writing is everyone’s concern and nobody’s responsibility because prevailing reward systems devalue teaching in general and the teaching of writing in particular. In fairly systematic ways, college faculty have failed to come to terms with the fact that they teach for a living, because they have been rewarded for thinking otherwise” (254).

“I believe that some of the disabling dualisms that constrain our efforts can effectively mediated by rhetoric, if we view it as a pragmatic philosophy of social praxis and not simply a set of techniques for writing. When understood as a civic philosophy of deliberative action, rhetoric can help us bridge the gaps between professional discourses and personal forms of writing, between belletristic and utilitarian value systems, and between research and service missions, if we can put on our bifocals and shift our gaze back and forth between its immediate practical applications and more long-range reflections on the situations, audiences, and purposes that confront us” (256).

“One of the basic challenges that confront independent writing programs is to harness the power of providing an essential service without becoming defined as essentially a service provider” (256).

Bishop, A Rose by Every Other Name

Bishop, Wendy. “A Rose by Every Other Name: The Excellent Problem of Independent Writing Programs.” .” 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. 233-246. Print.

Bishop reviews the other essays in the A Field of Dreams collection from her perspective: a comp/rhet faculty member in a large literature-heavy English department who has tried to maintain her own intellectual and administrative connections with English, only recently beginning to contemplate what it would mean for her and her institution to create an independent writing program. She looks at what is gained in independent programs – an increased respect for the research and teaching of composition (if not better working conditions for contingent faculty) – and what is lost – difficulty in attaining tenure, inability to solve institutional labor issues, bridging faculty whose alliances might be in competing departments, burn-out with the heavy load creating a program brings, affects on grad students and adjunct faculty who are excluded often from the decisions but still must continue their daily work in the middle of it.

Notes and Quotes

Corporate university and its effect on independent programs.


“Just like we claim in our writing classrooms – that a writer can’t write a better draft without learning about the failures of good attempts – so too we can’t learn to design better programs without experiencing problems on the road to improvement” (235).

“Compositionists use their intellect but often in service of action-oriented projects….They strike off across party lines, across class lines; and they fail to communicate primarily (or solely) by the book. Because of this, the field of composition has been misrepresented as anti-intellectual, atheoretical…and lacking in rigor” (237).

February 23, 2009

Porter et al, Institutional Critique

Porter, James E., Patricia Sullivan, Stuart Blythe, Jeffrey T. Grabill, and Libby Miles. “Institutional Critique: A Rhetorical Methodology for Change.” CCC 51.4 (June 2000) 610-642.

Composition and rhetoric scholars need to begin seeing the institution itself, as a rhetorical and spatial entity, as the place where they might critique and enact change. Working with the situated institution prevents composition and rhetoric’s critiques and calls for change from being to global and idealistic or being so local (classroom-level) that it does not effect the institution as a whole. Institutions range from the university to the school, legal, and political system. Institutional critique as a methodolgy draws on postmodern mapping and critical theory, particularily investigating the rhetorical and spatial construction of institutions, the power dynamics at the boundaries, and the multiple historical and social perspectives of those in the institution. This kind of methodology begins to push the gap between research and service and might be one way of validating and rewarding the rich intellectual work that compositionists and rhetoricians do that is all but thrown away with the label of “service.” Rhetoric and composition as a field is uniquely equip to practice institutional critique.

Quotable Quotes

“Our basic claim is this: Though institutions are certainly powerful, they are not monoliths; they are rhetorically constructed human designs (whose power is reinforced by buildings, laws, traditions, and knowledge-making practices) and so are changeable” (611).

“We focus, then, on institutions as rhetorical systems of decision making that exercise power through the design of space (both material and discursive)” (621).

“Institutional critique is, fundamentally, a pragmatic effort to use rhetorical means to improve institutional systems” (625).

Notable Notes

projects like where a writing center is physically situated on campus; how and when during the publishing process a handbook is open for revision & the various stakes that go into such a production; Ellen Cushman’s work with Quarytown in The Struggle and the Tools.

advocacy – action to enact change. Can’t stop at critique. It fills in the gap between macro-level ideals and mirco-level classroom practices

equating the discipline with the institution ignores the material constraints the discipline has to work in (619)

design relationship – between rhetoric and space

David Sibley Geographies of Exclusion, postmodern geography

February 9, 2009

McLeod, The Foreigner

McLeod, Susan H. “The Foreigner: WAC Directors as Agents of Change.” In Resituating Writing: Constructing and Administering Writing Programs. Eds. Joseph Janangelo and Kristine Hansen. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. 108-116.

McLeod surveys five metaphorical models for viewing the role of the WAC director, ultimately arguing that the best model is that of a change agent, a director that uses collaboration and conversation among the university-wide faculty to enact change in the college curriculum and in individual teachers’ pedagogy and teacher theories. The other four models that WAC directors often adopt – the conquerer, the diplomat, the peace corps volunteer, and the missionary – position the WAC director in a negative light, either by appearing top-down and combative, by acting like writing is the sole concern of a single department or unit (usually English), by decreasing the WAC director’s authority and effectiveness by having no budget or support, or by approaching writing instruction with a sort of moral authority, not allowing for dialogue about writing across the disciplines.

Quotable Quotes

WAC directors need “to invent their role with care as they venture into new territory”, make their “foreignness” work for them, not against them. (108)

WAC as a “quiet revolution” (look at Fulwiler) (115)

Notable Notes

Importance of securing a budget for director time release, clerical support, student support (peer tutor), and faculty workshops and follow-up for a successful writing across the curriculum program

WAC must be a faculty-owned, university-wide goal for it to be successful

Build a WAC advisory board or an all-university writing committee

Importance of an outside evaluation to get faculty support and budgetary support for a WAC program

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

Council of Writing Program Administrators, Evaluating the Intellectual Work of Writing Administration

Council of Writing Program Administrators. “Evaluating the Intellectual Work of Writing Administration.” The Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for Writing Program Administrators. Eds. Irene Ward and William J. Carpenter. New York: Longman, 2002. Appendix F. 366-378.

First published in the 1996 Fall/Winter issue of WPA, this statement builds on the MLA Report “Making Faculty Work Visible” and argues that five specific areas of writing program administration work are intellectual work (dependent on faculty expertise, research, and knowledge, and worthy of tenure and promotion.) The five areas include program creation, curricular design, faculty development, program assessment and evaluation, and program-related textual production. The statement includes guidelines to evaluate this work, pointing out that not all work by every WPA should be considered intellectual work; only work that has produced knowledge which results in activities and products that can be peer-evaluated (whether that knowledge is innovation, improvement, dissemination, or empirical research results) should be considered scholarship. The goal of the Council is to prove how academic service, which consumes a WPA’s daily existence, is just as important, rewardable, and scholarly as faculty research and teaching.

Quotable Quotes

Administration “has for the most part been treated as a management activity that does not produce new knowledge and that neither requires nor demonstrates scholarly expertise and disciplinary knowledge” (366).

Goal: “refiguring writing administration as scholarly and intellectual work,” it is “worthy of tenure and promotion when it advances and enacts disciplinary knowledge within the field of Rhetoric and Composition” (366)

Notable Notes

exchange value and use value of teaching & research v. service

three tenure case studies of faculty who have concentrated in research, teaching, and service

not all service counts as scholarship – just that work that involves disciplinary knowledge (theory informing practice)

Ernest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered

February 3, 2009

O’Neill, Crow, Burton, A Field of Dreams

O’Neill, Peggy, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton, eds. A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Logan, Utah: Utah State UP, 2002.

Royer, Daniel J. and Roger Gilles. “The Origins of a Department of Academic, Creative, and Professional Writing.”

This chapter explains the history of the gradual separation of writing and composition duties from the rest of an English department faculty and the subsequent creation of an independent department in academic, creative, and professional writing at Grand Valley State University. Over the course a of decade in the 1990s, the English department hired eight new tenure-track faculty in rhet/comp (in a large department of 40 full-time faculty), and with this cohort of writing specialists, teamed with part-time instructors and full-time, post-doc composition fellows, the literature faculty gradually opted out of teaching the required composition courses. When the administration discovered this imbalance, they told the English chair that until more faculty taught composition, there would be no new hires, as it was clear by their attitude that composition was low on the department’s hierarchy. The faculty then were faced with three choices: give up teaching elective speciality courses so everyone could teach a section of composition, hire new comp/rhet faculty into the department to teach it, or reduce the number of sections by allowing some students to opt out of the course. The faculty, realizing that none of these solutions was desirable, agreed to allow academic, creative, and professional writing become its own department, one completely focused on the discipline of writing studies, able to branch out and make partnerships across campus without having to be moderated by a large English department that wasn’t interested in rhetoric and composition as a legitimate field of study.

Quotable Quotes

“Indeed, separate from English, writing can finally begin to see itself once again within the context of the liberal arts more generally – rather than as a ‘basic skill’ relegated to preliberal education. It can now exist alongside other parts of the liberal-arts whole, rather than beneath them, servicing them, holding them up.” (36).

Notable Notes

A rhet/comp PhD is trained to teach more than first-year composition; advertising for a job that only teaches first-year (because the rest of the faculty don’t want to teach it) isn’t going to attract quality candidates.

Developing the culture of the program – valuing writing as the central organizing concept – is essential for new departments

confidence for making an independent department worked came from developing a successful university-wide writing program and writing assessment/evaluation system.

Agnew, Eleanor and Phyllis Surrency Dallas. “Internal Friction in a New Independent Department of Writing and What the External Conflict Resolution Consultants Recommended.” 38-49.

This chapter shows the problems of a top-down administrative decision to create an independent writing and linguistics department at Georgia Southern University in 1997. The administration decided that the large, 75-faculty member department of English and Philosophy needed restructuring, and the faculty submitted three models for consideration: stay a single department with three program directors (writing, literature, graduate studies); become two separate departments (philosophy and literature, writing and linguistics); become two separate departments under a new school. The administration picked the second model, thus divorcing the faculty from each other and withholding any collaboration and collection that would have come from being part of the same school. The faculty were not consulted about what department they would be placed in, so the department of writing and linguistics inherited several literature instructors with their MAs along with new rhet/comp hires. The diversity of viewpoints about pedagogy, content, research expectations, compounded by different salaries and degrees (PhDs and MAs) created a department rife with internal conflict. An external conflict resolution team came in and suggested structural changes, such as developing two associate chair positions, and joint projects, like the National Writing Project and a new BA in writing and linguistics have united the department somewhat since.

Quotable Quotes

“The faculty in our department were polarized based largely on degree and background – Ph.D’s versus master’s, composition-rhetoric background versus literature background, new hires versus veterans. But we wonder if it is possible that the fighting and one-upping were exacerbated because of the low status, low salaries, and perception as a service department, which both groups have in the whole academic system” (47).

Notable Notes

Warning – don’t go with restructuring just because administration pushes for it. Faculty need to be on board and know what is happening, understand the identities and cultures being made and reinforced.

Phelps, Matching Form to Function in Writing Program Design

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Matching Form to Function in Writing Program Design.” Talk. Michigan State University. 7 November 2002.

A writing program needs to be designed so that it finds a home between the two, often conflicting functions of writing programs: 1. the horizontally-structured undergraduate writing program that serves all departments across the university and 2. the departmental, research-oriented faculty core that provide the theoretical foundations for the pedagogical work being done. In order to do this, a writing program must be independent, controlled at a high administrative level (a department cannot effectively run a university-wide program), recognize alternate forms of scholarship by its faculty; and resist calcifying as a traditional department, because that will squelch moves towards experimentation and context-driven negotiation and redefinition. A writing program must have some flexibility because it is a dynamic entity, always changing shape and focus to meet the changing demands and circumstances of the institution and its students. This doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be defined, however; it just must be conceived broadly as an unique part of the institution that is always growing and experimenting, both in the classroom and in its structure and organization.

Quotable Quotes

“A university writing faculty must have a core research faculty to authorize its teaching mission” (4)

“The political effectivity of a writing program rests on its ability to be accepted and integrated within the intellectual mainstream of a university” (5) – importance of full-time, researching faculty to lead the program

“There is a fundmental mismatch between the needs, goals, and nontraditional functions of writing programs and the available forms and structures in higher education institutions for organizing and implementing them. For that reason, writing programs are a valuable irritant and provocation to examine how systmeic features of academic life can impede desired innovations” (7).

A writing program design must somehow find a way structurally to reconcile needs, features, and functions that gravitate toward one of these two poles—the complex structure and broad horizon of the whole system versus the human-size community for living and learning; the decentered, loosely coupled network and the focused core; the generalist, distributed instructional mission and the expertise that grounds it and finds its source and expression in scholarship and advanced teaching.” (11)

Notable Notes

writing program as enterprise to recognize the intellectual and programmatic nature of it (4)

expertise and generalist functions

writing programs as Pluto – are they really a discipline (is it really a planet?)

connective tissue that holds the university together (8)

importance of locating a writing program – placing it high enough administratively to have the resources and flexibility it needs.

Christopher Alexander – growing whole, design

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