Greg A. Giberson and Thomas A. Moriarty
Greg Giberson and Tom Moriarty have collected a rich volume that offers a state-of-the-field look at the question of the undergraduate writing major, a vital issue for compositionists as the discipline continues to evolve. What We Are Becoming provides an indispensable resource for departments and WPAs who are building undergraduate majors. Contributors to the volume address a range of vital questions for undergraduate programs, including such issues as the competition for majors within departments, the job market for undergraduates, varying focuses and curricula of such majors, and the formation of them in departments separate from English. Other chapters discuss the importance of flexibility, consider arguments for a rhetorical or civic discourse core for the writing major, address the relationship between rhetoric and composition majors, and review the role of multiliteracies in the major. The field of composition has not come to a consensus on the shape, content, or focus of the undergradutate major. But as individual programs develop and refine their curricula, one thing has become clear: we must think about them in ways that go beyond our particular circumstances, theorize them in ways that secure their place on our campuses and in our discipline for years to come. What We Are Becoming is an effort to do just that.
Shirley K. Rose and Irwin Weiser
An important new resource for WPA preparation courses. In Going Public, Rose and Weiser moderate a discussion of the role of the writing program vis-a-vis the engagement movement, the service learning movement, and the current interest in public discourse/civic rhetoric among scholars of rhetoric and composition. While there have been a number of publications describing service-learning and community leadership programs, most of these focus on curricular elements and address administrative issues primarily from a curricular perspective. The emphasis of Going Public is on the ways that engagement-focused programs change conceptions of WPA identity. Writing programs are typically situated at points where students make the transition from community to college or from college to community, and are already dedicated to developing literacies that are critically needed in communities. As institutions begin to include more explicit engagement with citizen and stakeholder groups as an element of their mission, writing program administrators find themselves with an opportunity to articulate ways in which writing program goals and purposes can significantly contribute to achieving these new institutional goals.
Carol Petersen Haviland and Joan A. Mullin
Carol Haviland, Joan Mullin, and their collaborators report on a three-year interdisciplinary interview project on the subject of plagiarism, authorship, and "property," and how these are conceived across different fields. The study investigated seven different academic fields to discover disciplinary conceptions of what types of scholarly production count as "owned." Less a research report than a conversation, the book offers a wide range of ideas, and the chapters here will provoke discussion on scholarly practice relating to intellectual property, plagiarism, and authorship---and to how these matters are conveyed to students. Although these authors find a good deal of consensus in regard to the ethical issues of plagiarism, they document a surprising variety of practice on the subject of what ownership looks like from one discipline to another. And they discover that students are not often instructed in the conventions of their major field.
One wonders if there is any academic field that doesn't suffer from the way it is portrayed by the media, by politicians, by pundits and other publics. How well scholars in a discipline articulate their own definition can influence not only issues of image but the very success of the discipline in serving students and its other constituencies. The Activist WPA is an effort to address this range of issues for the field of English composition in the aftermath of No Child Left Behind and the Spellings Commission. Drawing on recent developments in framing theory and the resurgent traditions of progressive organizers, Linda Adler-Kassner calls upon composition teachers and administrators to develop strategic programs of collective action that do justice to composition's best principles. Adler-Kassner argues that the "story" of college composition can be changed only when writing scholars bring the wonders down, to articulate a theory framework that is pragmatic and intelligible to those outside the field--and then create messages that reference that framework. In The Activist WPA, she makes a case for developing a more integrated vision of outreach, English education, and writing program administration.
Despite its centrality to much of contemporary personal and public discourse, sexuality remains infrequently discussed in composition courses and in our discipline at large. Moreover, its complicated relationship to discourse, to the very language we use to describe and define our worlds, is woefully understudied in our discipline. Talk and writing about sexuality surround us. Not only does the discourse of sexuality surround us, but sexuality itself forms a core set of complex discourses through which we approach, make sense of, and construct a variety of meanings, politics, and identities. In Literacy, Sexuality, Pedagogy, Jonathan Alexander argues for the development of students' "sexual literacy." Such a literacy is not concerned with developing fluency with sexuality as a "hot" topic, but with understanding the connectedness of sexuality and literacy in Western culture. Using the work of scholars in queer theory, sexuality studies, and the New Literacy Studies, Alexander unpacks what he sees as a crucial--if often overlooked--dimension of literacy: the fundamental ways in which sexuality has become a key component of contemporary literate practice, of the stories we tell about ourselves, our communities, and our political investments. Alexander then demonstrates through a series of composition exercises and writing assignments how we might develop students' understanding of sexual literacy. Examining discourses of gender, heterosexuality, and marriage allows students (and instructors) a critical opportunity to see how the languages we use to describe ourselves and our communities are saturated with ideologies of sexuality. Understanding how sexuality is constructed and deployed as a way to "make meaning" in our culture gives us a critical tool both to understand some of the fundamental ways in which we know ourselves and to challenge some of the norms that govern our lives. In the process, we become more fluent with the stories that we tell about ourselves and we discover how normative notions of sexuality enable (and constrain) narrations of identity, culture, and politics. We develop not only our understanding of sexuality, but of our literacy, as we explore how sexuality is a vital, if vexing, part of the story of who we are.
Elizabeth H. Boquet
In Noise from the Writing Center, Boquet develops a theory of "noise" and excess as an important element of difference between the pedagogy of writing centers and the academy in general. Addressing administrative issues, Boquet strains against the bean-counting anxiety that seems to drive so much of writing center administration. Pedagogically, she urges a more courageous practice, developed via metaphors of music and improvisation, and argues for "noise," excess, and performance as uniquely appropriate to the education of writers and tutors in the center. Personal, even irreverent in style, Boquet is also theoretically sophisticated, and she draws from an eclectic range of work in academic and popular culture-from Foucault to Attali to Jimi Hendrix. She includes, as well, the voices of writing center tutors with whom she conducted research, and she finds some of her most inspiring moments in the words and work of those tutors. A provocative and path-breaking essay from one of the leading scholars in writing center theory and administration, Noise from the Writing Center is a must-read volume not only for writing center directors and tutors, but also for WPAs, department chairs, compositionists, and anyone with a stake in the role of writing centers in the post-secondary institution.