Revolution Lullabye

December 2, 2010

Merrill, Farrell, et al, Symposium on the 1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards

Merrill, Robert, Thomas J. Farrell, et al. “Symposium on the ‘1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards.’”  College Composition and Communication 43.2 (1992): 154-175. Print.

These five articles form a symposium to discuss the publication of the 1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards, which was published in CCC in May 1992. I’m going to briefly summarize each one.

Robert Merrill, “Against the ‘Statement'”
Merrill, a full-time professor and chair, argues against the Statement because of the implications and consequences of its recommendations. Universities could never afford hiring tenure-track professors to cover all the sections of composition that they teach, and even if they did, tenure-track professors would no longer be able to offer upper-division courses because their loads would be filled up with composition. Tenure-track literature professors are not trained to teach composition or hired to teach composition. Merrill argues that lecturers and instructors do a better job of teaching composition than , tenure-track faculty, and he would support tenuring them if they continued teaching their loads of composition. Instead of trying to get rid of the two-tiered system, he argues for making “the two tiers fit closer together” by improving the working conditions of writing specialists in English departments (158).

Thomas J. Farrell, “The Wyoming Resolution, Higher Wizardry, and the Importance of Writing Instruction.”
Farrell, an associate professor, argues that teachers and professors of composition and rhetoric need to be aware of their own rhetoric and use it more effectively in order to improve the status of the teachers of writing at the academy. He points out what the Progress Report is missing – a condemnation of the expensive growth in non-teaching managerial administrators at the academy, an argument of the value of good writing instruction for students to be successful in the workplace, which depends on deliberative rhetoric, and the intellectual value of learning rhetoric in order to be adaptable to different audiences and purposes.

Eileen E. Schell, “Teaching Under Unusual Conditions: Graduate Teaching Assistants and the CCCC’s ‘Progress Report'”
Schell, a graduate student at the time of writing this, argues that the Progress Report does not “fully address the complexities of the GTA’s position” (165). The title of the graduate teaching assistant is a misnomer, Schell argues, as the GTA in composition is often a full-fledged teacher but treated as a less-than-professional. GTAs also have a double work burden: being graduate students and university teachers.

Valerie Balester, “Revising the ‘Statement’: On the Work of Writing Centers”
Balester, an assistant professor, argues that the Statement does not address the unique needs of instructors and non-tenure-track administrators who work in writing centers and contends that the Statement sees writing centers as centers of service instead of locations where writing theory and pedagogy is dynamicly enacted.

Chris M. Anson and Greta Gaard, “Acting on the ‘Statement’: The All-Campus Model of Reform”
Anson, an associate professor, and Gaard, an assistnat professor, argue that in order to carry out the reforms included in the Statement, the field should not rely on individual actions of teachers and administrators alone nor on the broader moves of CCCC (as argued by James Sledd) but instead pursue local changes within institutions by collaborating between administrators, faculty, and instructors. They use their campus-wide retreats and workshops at the University of Minnestota in 1989 and 1991 as an example of this kind of reform.

Notes and Quotes

November 22, 2010

CCCC Executive Committee, Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing

CCCC Excecutive Committee. “Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing.” College Composition and Communication 40.3 (1989): 329-336. Print.

This statement, which links the importance of teaching students valuable critical reading and writing skills to fair and ethical treatment of teachers, outlines the unfair and unethical labor practices at the university toward the teaching of writing and recommends strategies to correct these practices. They argue that teachers of writing be tenure-track faculty members and those who supervise writing programs be specialists in rhetoric and composition, and these faculty members should be evaluated for tenure on discipline-specific standards, which recognize pedagogical and administrative publication as scholarship. They also argue for better treatment of graduate teaching assistants, which includes training and support for teaching writing, better pay and loads, and access to benefits. The committee insists that universities should only hire part-time instructors for two reasons: to teach specialized courses (where the instructor may be a professional in another field) or to meet unexpected rises in enrollment. Part-time instructors should be given training, office space, adequate professional pay and benefits, and a voice in the department they teach in about the courses they teach and how the courses and they are evaluated. The statement also outlines conditions for good writing instruction: no more than 20 students a section (15 for basic writing), no more than 60 students per instructor per term, support through a writing center, and adequate access to scholarship and conferences in rhetoric and composition.

Notes and Quotes

part-time, graduate assistant teachers: “enormous academic underclass.” (330)

“Moreover, the excessive reliance on marginalized faculty damages the quality of education. Even when, as it often the case, these faculty bring to their academic appointments the appropriate credentials and commitments to good teaching, their low salaries, poor working conditions, and uncertain futures mar their effectiveness and reduce the possibilities for loyalty to the institution’s educational goals. All lose: teachers, students, schools, and ultimately a democratic society that cannot be without citizens whose education empowers them to read and write with critical sophistication” (330).

argue against full-time temporary faculty.

Campbell, Two Memos to Colleagues

Campbell, Hugh. “Two Memos to Colleagues.” College Composition and Communication 42.3 (1991): 268-371. Print.

Campbell (which is a pseudonym) argues that, given the history and current state of the discipline of English, the current narrow understanding of the field of English (one limited to literary study and criticism) is unsufficient, and rather, faculty members in English need to expand their understanding of the field to one that studies issues of literacy and composition and rhetoric. He also argues for the necessity of a real, university-wide writing program, one that offers upper-division courses in advanced, technical, and professional writing, one that is anchored by a university-wide writing center that is designed for all (undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and community members) to come and use.

Notes and Quotes

“I do not understand why it should be more worthwhile or complex to interpret a work of fiction than a work of nonfiction. Furthermore, I am convinced that interpreting student writing is more difficult and potentially more rewarding than interpreting “imaginative” literature.” (369).

He sees composition and rhetoric as an integral part of English departments.

“The director of any writing program should be a tenured faculty mem-ber who (a) teaches writing and (b) publishes scholarship. This person should also be a writer in the broad sense: one who enjoys writing, not merely a com-petent drudge capable of doing an occasional satisfactory article for a scholarly journal and memos. I cannot stress this strongly enough: the head of a writing program should be more than an efficient administrator.” (371)


January 26, 2009

Carpini, “Re-Writing the Humanities”

Carpini, Dominic Delli. “Re-Writing the Humanities: The Writing Major’s Effect upon Undergraduate Studies in English Departments.” Composition Studies 35:1 (Spring 2007) 15-36.

Beginning with a classification of the three main types of undergraduate writing majors – professional, liberal arts, and hybrid – Carpini shows how one writing major, the Professional Writing Major at York College of Pennsylvania, has redefined what writing studies means to students and to the discipline. The major has returned rhetoric to the humanities, informing students’ work in literary studies and philosophy by increasing the topics and discussions they can draw on and write about and making them more careful readers and writers. It also has revitalized and added a new area of inquiry to those students in pre-professional tracks, like English education. This was in the special edition of Composition Studies about the writing major, and Carpini includes several institutions’ own writing major descriptions.

Quotable Quotes

“the potential that writing majors have to influence the disciplines with which we share institutional homes and to introduce undergraduate students to areas of research that, until recently, were reserved for graduate studies” (15)

the writing major is on “a continuum moving from praxis to gnosis.” (16)

Notable Notes

English secondary teachers learning tutoring in the writing center

abolition and Crowley arguments cited

extensive (15 or so) descriptions of writing majors from the college or university’s catalogues

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