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Writing Beyond the Curriclum in the City of Brotherly Love

Stephen Parks

Publication Year: 2010

In Gravyland, Parks chronicles the history of an urban university writing program and its attempt to develop politically progressive literacy partnerships with the surrounding community while having to work within and against a traditional educational and cultural landscape. He details the experience of the New City Writing program at Temple University from its beginning as a small institute with one program at a local public school to a multi-faceted organization, raising millions of dollars, and establishing partnerships across the diverse neighborhoods of Philadelphia. In doing so, the author describes classrooms where the community takes a seat and becomes part of the conversation—a conversation which is recorded and shared through a selection of writing produced. While Parks celebrates classroom success in generating knowledge through dialog with the larger community, he also highlights many of the obstacles the organizers of the New City Writing program faced. The author shows that writing alliances between universities and communities are possible but they must take into account the institutional, economic, and political pressures that accompany such partnerships. Blending the theoretical and practical lessons learned, Parks details New City Writing’s effort to offer a new model of education, one in which the voice of the professor must share space with the voices of the community, and one in which students come to understand that the right to sit in a classroom is not just the result of war, but of peaceful civil disobedience, of community struggles to gain self-recognition, and of collective efforts to seek social justice.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xi

Lori Shorr has been my writing partner for more than twenty years, although she would probably not think this was the case. Without her, however, the best chapters of my life would not have occurred. And without my children's witty and generous suggestions on how to revise some of my ideas about writerly authority, life would be much less of an adventure. Finally, my...

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Entering Gravyland: Breaking Bonds and Reaffirming Connections

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pp. xiii-xxxi

In Mike Huckabee's address to the 2008 Republican Convention, he told the story of a teacher who did not allow her students to have a desk until they could figure out "how to earn it." After many days in which the students failed to provide the correct answer, the teacher finally relented. As military veterans carried the student desks in the classroom, she announced...

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1. Writing Beyond the Curriculum: The Hybrid Nature of University/Public-School Partnerships

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pp. 1-34

Voice is a central concept within composition/rhetoric studies. Centrality, however, does not necessarily imply consensus. For more than thirty years, there has been an on-going debate in the field regarding whether an individual's voice is an intrinsic personal attribute or the result of larger social and political narratives...

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2. Edge Politics: Oppositional Strategies and Collective Politics

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pp. 35-68

Where do oppositional moments come from? How can our daily practice foster such moments and encourage their growth into successful strategies for change? Urban Rhythms had imagined itself as a space where student voices could resist their interpolation, à la Lukacs, into narratives that diminished their agency and their community. As the project...

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3. Strategic Speculations on the Question of Value: The Role of Community Publishing in English Studies

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pp. 69-97

Value is a slippery term that permeates our work in English studies. Within literary studies, value has a long history of being associated with canon formation and curriculum reform. One way to mark changes in literary studies is to examine the revaluing of formally subjugated writers and their inclusion in the daily practices of the academy, such as the classroom...

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4. Writing Within and Beyond the Curriculum: No Restraints, Community Publishing, and the Contact Zone

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pp. 98-129

Each of the previous chapters focused on New City Writing's ability (or inability) to establish productive partnerships with community and public-school organizations. In doing so, each proceeded with the implicit sense that students were gaining more than just insight into the machinations of community-based literacy projects. They were also learning something about...

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5. The Insights of Everyday Scholars: New City Community Press

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pp. 130-190

New City Writing was premised on the concept "writing beyond the curriculum." Whereas previous chapters focused on New City's internal efforts to support community-based writing, our goal was always to have the writing produced circulate across the neighborhoods in which it emerged and through the city, region, and nation in which it exists. Our vehicle for this public...

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6. Success: The Aftermath of Survival

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pp. 191-208

At the outset, New City Writing was the Institute for the Study of Literature, Literacy, and Culture, a purposeful intervention in the workings of Temple University designed to expand the College of Arts and Sciences' support of progressive literacy practices in North Philadelphia. Within this context, New City's individual projects were tactical moments designed...


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pp. 211-216


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pp. 217-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651567
E-ISBN-10: 0815651562
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632429
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632428

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 1 black and white illustration
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794700207
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Gravyland

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Written communication -- Study and teaching -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Reading (Higher education) -- Political aspects -- United States.
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