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Interests and Opportunities

Race, Racism, and University Writing Instruction in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Steven J. Lamos

Publication Year: 2011

In the late 1960s, colleges and universities became deeply embroiled in issues of racial equality. Hundreds of new programs were introduced to address the needs of “high-risk” minority and low-income students. In the years since, university policies have flip-flopped between calls to address minority needs and arguments to maintain “Standard English.” Today, anti-affirmative action and anti-access sentiments have put many of these programs in danger. Interests and Opportunities chronicles debates over writing programs for “high-risk” students on the national level and, locally, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using the critical race theorist Derrick Bell’s concept of “interest convergence,” Steve Lamos shows that these programs were promoted or derailed according to how and when they fit the interests of underrepresented minorities and mainstream whites (administrators and academics). To Lamos, understanding the past dynamics of convergence and divergence is key to formulating new strategies of local action and “story-changing” that can preserve and expand race consciousness and high-risk writing instruction, even in adverse political climates.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

Front Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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1. The Development and Evolution of High-Risk Writing Instruction

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pp. 1-20

The 1960s found U.S. mainstream colleges and universities presiding over an overwhelmingly white student body. Studies from the time period reveal that mainstream four-year institutions had an African American population of roughly 2 percent (Egerton, State Universities 6) and a combined population of “other” races and ethnicities ...

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2. The Late 1960s and Early 1970s: Coming to Terms with Racial Crisis

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pp. 21-55

The decade of the 1960s found the Civil Rights Movement turning in an increasingly urgent and confrontational direction. Sociologists and CUNY Open Admissions researchers David E. Lavin and David Hyllegard have argued that this period witnessed “increasing militancy [within] the civil rights movement. ...

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3. The Mid-1970s: Literacy Crisis Meets Color Blindness

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pp. 56-85

The mid-1970s found many in the United States increasingly worried that societal troubles—the war in Vietnam, the pending energy crisis, the Watergate scandal, and other woes—were threatening the status of the country as the “hegemonic power of the West” (Genovese 61) ...

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4. The Late 1970s and Early 1980s: Competence Concerns in the Age of Bakke

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pp. 86-116

One of the most pressing issues facing U.S. higher education during the late 1970s and early 1980s was that of student “competence”—that is, how best to define and measure what it meant for a student to have achieved (or failed to achieve) a certain level of educational attainment or proficiency. ...

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5. The Late 1980s and Early 1990s: Culture Wars and the Politics of Identity

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pp. 117-150

Predominantly white mainstream four-year colleges and universities in the United States found themselves grappling with yet another host of important issues related to racial and cultural diversity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. These institutions were encountering widespread demands that they prepare students more effectively ...

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6. The Late 1990s to the Present: The End of an Era?

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pp. 151-178

From the late 1990s through the present day, mainstream four-year colleges and universities in the United States have been forced to respond to a powerful pressure to pursue institutional “excellence.” Greene and McAlexander characterize this pressure as prompting four-year institutions to begin “raising admissions standards, ...


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pp. 179-192

Works Cited

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pp. 193-212


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pp. 213-220

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822977407
E-ISBN-10: 0822977400
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961734
Print-ISBN-10: 822961733

Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture
Series Editor Byline: David Bartholomae and Jean Ferguson Carr, Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 830023847
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Interests and Opportunities

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Racism -- United States.
  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching -- United States.
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