From CUNY Academic Commons
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Suppose you’d assigned readings to your students. (Suppose they might be grad students.) How would you start the lesson? What would you want them to share? (Note: these are possibilities in no particular order, not a sequence of activities we’re recommending doing all of.)
a) Freewrite/inkshed for 5-10 minutes on one/any of the questions below.
b) What conversation(s) is this text participating in? What is it responding to?
c) What sort of work is this text doing: is it solving a problem? Identifying a new problem? Offering new language/lenses to understand something? Examining pragmatic applications of theory (e.g. pedagogical or institutional case studies / anecdotes)?
Reports on text
Responsibility and Composition’s Future in the Twenty-first Century
Identifying a problem: “accountability” introduces too many audiences, some of which we might not even be aware of; accountability also takes authority away from the assessors/teachers, placing authority in the hands of governing bodies (administrators and national figures), most of whom are far away from the classroom and students.
Changing language: moving from “accountability” to “responsibility.”
Pragmatic applications: what notable programs have done; how “responsibility” will influence our approaches to assessment; e-portfolios, transparency, and an emphasis on local rubrics.
connection to Colomb: what publics want and will pay for; shifting vocab to signal different ownership
Franchising the Future, by Gregory G. Colomb
Changing language: The difference between service and public service (franchise) is the difference between a servant and a public servant: the former is told what to do, while the latter is told what his/her goals are (what the needs of the community are), and then given freedom to achieve those goals however he/she sees fit.
Seeking New Worlds: The Study of Writing beyond Our Classrooms, by Bronwyn T. Williams
The good news: The interest in writing beyond the traditional first-year and college composition programs has in many ways grown in the field of rhetoric and composition in recent years, often encompassing varied scholarship reflecting research and theory.
The bad news: We are doing this work largely out of contact with other complementary fields, where similar issues, research, and questions are taking place. These complementary fields (including K-12 literacy education, ethnographic and international literacy studies, and media studies) are doing what Williams calls “astonishingly similar,” even parallel work, but scholarly conversations are not taking place across fields and we’re not citing them in our work (with some exceptions, of course). Literacy is a set of socially constructed and culturally mediated practices, not a set of stand alone skills — we should not limit our professional interests to college writing. Writing happens everywhere and we should study it everywhere.
Change is small and local: The focus of our field has not undergone any transformation, or any conscious repositioning (despite calls for it in various places over the years), and seems to often step outside the scope of college writing only on an individual and/or small scale basis.
So what’s our problem? Do we feel our professional identity is being questioned? By others? By ourselves? Why are we not engaging with those in other literacy-related fields? We need a broader focus in our work, and to engage in broader conversations with other fields of related research. We need to actively rethink our research and publishing practices.
Reasons for this narrow vision? We tend to build our scholarship on scholarship that has already existed in our field, and academia and institutional practices encourage this. Makes it harder to step outside the box, rethink an entire pedagogical approach. Also, many of those now in comp/rhet are trained specifically in the field, as opposed to being drawn from it from other fields — their scope of experience is more limited because their focus has been on comp/rhet from the beginning.
What Williams thinks we should do about it: We should redefine our focus on writing (to include pre- and post-college writing) and we should include more literacy-related fields in our area of study. How? Invite them to our conferences and go to theirs, we should try to publish in their journals and welcome them to publish in ours, we should even consider hiring someone in a literacy-related field for a position in comp/rhet.
Overall, the article made some good points but did not make any significant claims beyond defining the problem. Not enough proposed solutions.
For next week:
We’re all going to read The Place of Creative Writing in Composition Studies, and discuss (a) how we might design a course or curriculum that fuses creative writing and composition studies; (b) how the article itself is built, craft-wise.