Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xviii

Writing Permitted in Designated Areas Only is a collection of essays and papers on writing and writing pedagogy. The volume includes a selection of my published essays and unpublished papers, along with experimental essays written by students in a graduate seminar called Ethnographies of Literacy that I teach. I selected the material to gloss the curriculum vitae that professors update annually as part of their academic...

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Introduction: Poststructural Theories, Methods, and Practices

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pp. 1-24

Let me set the record straight before I try to explain how I conduct research on literacy. I am not a social scientist. The best that can be said of me (which in some circles would be the worst) is that I have a penchant for social theories of language. I have spent my intellectual life tinkering with language theories in hopes of becoming a good writer and teacher of writers. I think of myself as a tinker because tinkers are both curious and arrogant enough to try to fix almost anything. That is a fair description of how...

PART I. EDUCATION

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Introduction to Part I

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pp. 27-29

There is a world of difference between an educational history and the educational credentials that a curriculum vitae records. On the face of it, my vita is an argument for meritocracy. I am living proof, it would seem, that in America you don't have to go to the right schools or study with the right people to become a university professor. Even though I took my undergraduate degree at Western Illinois University and my graduate degrees at the University of New Mexico, I went on to work at the University...

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Writing on the Bias

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pp. 30-52

If you believe family folklore, I began writing the year before I entered kindergarten, when I conducted a census (presumably inspired by a visit from the 1950 census taker). I consider it a story about writing rather than, say, survey research because while it has me asking the neighbors when they were going to die, in my mind's eye I see myself as a child recording their answers—one to a page—in a Big Chief tablet. As I..

PART II. PUBLICATIONS

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Introduction to Part II

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pp. 55-58

Universities are inclined to equate faculty productivity with publication, typically casting quality as quantity, the number of books and articles produced by faculty over a given period—a month, a year, five years, a decade. Publication is the bedrock on which tenure and promotion rest, and producing the right number of things (in the humanities, at most places, a book and a specified number of articles) in the allotted time usually, though not always, results in tenure and promotion from assistant to...

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Modernism and the Scene(s) of Writing

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pp. 59-81

When I picture writing, I often see a solitary writer alone in a cold garret working into the small hours of the morning by the thin light of a candle. It seems a curious image to conjure, for I am absent from this scene in which the writer is an Author and the writing is Literature. In fact it is not my scene at all. The writer-writes-alone is a familiar icon of art and is perhaps most readily understood as a romantic representation of the production of canonical literature, music, painting, sculpture. And if the icon evokes...

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Tropics of Literacy

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pp. 82-87

I have come to think of literacy as a social trope and the various definitions of literacy as cultural Rorschachs. By this I mean to draw attention not simply to the fact that every culture and subculture defines what it means by literacy (e.g., Heath 1983; Scribner and Cole 1981), and not even to the equally important fact that the history of the word literacy in a single society shows remarkable variation over time (e.g., Ohmann 1985; Resnick and Resnick 1980). Nor am I principally concerned in this article with how researchers have...

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On the Subjects of Class and Gender in "The Literacy Letters"

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pp. 88-105

In "The Discourse on Language," Michel Foucault dramatizes the desire to be "on the other side of discourse, without having to stand outside it, pondering its particular, fearsome, and even devilish features" (1976:215) in this whimsical colloquy between the individual and the institution: Inclination speaks out: "I don't want to have to enter this risky world of discourse: I want nothing to do with it insofar as it is decisive and final; I would like to...

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Writing Critical Ethnographic Narratives

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pp. 106-113

As I am using the term here, a negative critique is any systematic, verbal protest against cultural hegemony. It might be spoken or written, addressed to any number of audiences, and delivered in any of a variety of forms, not the least important of which is our own curriculum and pedagogy. In this article I focus on some issues that researchers who wish to advocate for change by writing critical ethnographic narratives are likely..

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Presence of Mind in the Absence of Body

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pp. 114-129

We commonly tell stories about what happens to us and what we make of our experience. In a sense, then, the stories documenting our lives tell what we find worth remembering and contemplating and sharing with others. It is of course the "others" who complicate the telling of stories, for stories are not usually told to ourselves alone, but to those we hope will understand our construction of events. The stories included in...

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Writing Permitted in Designated Areas Only

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pp. 130-149

The international sign that bans smoking in public places can also be read as a sign of cultural hegemony, a frequent and forcible reminder that in democratic societies civic regulations commonly inscribe the will of the dominant culture. That there are two versions of the sign suggests that the dominant culture is of at least two minds when it comes to smoking in public places. One version of the sign prohibits smoking altogether...

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Telling Experiences

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pp. 150-152

I began thinking of experience as stories we tell about ourselves the day I overheard my four-year-old son talking to himself about his life as he played alone in his room. That's when it occurred to me for the first time that if children say aloud what adults have learned to keep to themselves, then at that very moment I could be unwittingly composing an autobiography to myself not unlike the one I could hear my son declaiming. I...

PART Ill. PRESENTATIONS

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Introduction to Part III

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pp. 155-157

Academics are usually encouraged rather than required to present papers at scholarly conferences and deliver lectures at other institutions. There is a widely held belief, however, that in addition to offering a chance to meet scholars in your field, a conference is a good place to rehearse before an audience of your peers arguments you plan to use in essays. I have found this to be true and not true. While I often discern a fair number of limitations in an argument in the course of writing a fifteen- to twenty...

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Transvaluing Difference

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pp. 158-161

American scholars have more than a passing interest in academic freedom because historically the relationship between the academy and the state has been uneasy. And a good deal of this uneasiness has to do with the long academic tradition of questioning received wisdom, common knowledge, the very doxa by which society lives. Yet we have only to recall the reports of the November 1988 meeting of the National Association...

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On the Intersection of Feminism and Cultural Studies

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pp. 162-163

It's no secret among feminists that white, professional women are more likely than women of color or working-class women to privilege gender over race, ethnicity, and class, or that many of these women attribute the success of the feminist political and academic projects over the last twenty-some years to essentializing gender. It's not just that white feminists forget that most women are of color, or that most women are working class, but that they believe gender discrimination overrides their race and class...

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Hard Cases for Writing Pedagogy

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pp. 164-169

When I was a child, my family lived a few doors away from the neighborhood witch, an elderly spinster whose house, obscured from view by weeds and overgrown shrubs, was set off from the street and curious children by a tangled bank of moss. In the summer of my fifth year, some of the other children and I took to snatching pieces of moss from the bank, in some long forgotten childhood ritual of bravura. Late one afternoon...

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Critical Ethnography

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pp. 170-175

When I teach graduate seminars on ethnography, I always begin by telling students that ethnography is the "science of hanging out." I do that not only because I have a penchant for paradox—which of course I do—but also because I want to remind students that two traditions, science and art, inform ethnography, and that one of the reasons ethnography often promises more than it delivers has to do with the tendency to resolve..

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At the Site of Writing

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pp. 176-180

As a schoolchild I was preoccupied by Africa. While there are probably many reasons why that is so, one of them has to do with the way geography was taught. Year after year, Africa was scheduled for May, and year after year school was out before my teachers got around to Africa. I now see the absence of Africa as a lesson in the politics of schooling, for while 7 may have been preoccupied by Africa, my teachers seem to have been preoccupied...

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The Troubles at Texas

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pp. 181-192

There are what I think of as the troubles at The University of Texas. In April of 1990 the English department policy committee I chaired voted to revamp the ailing composition course, known locally as English 306, by requiring the graduate students who staff the fifty-some sections of the one-semester first-year writing course to teach argumenation from a common syllabus, "Writing about Difference," for one year. From mid-May..

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Difference and a Pedagogy of Difference

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pp. 193-204

I understand multiculturalism to be largely a curricular rather than a pedagogical reform. While I share the principles of inclusion that motivate faculty around the country to add multicultural materials to their reading lists or multicultural courses to their curriculum, and would like to believe that these principles motivate my work as well, I hesitate to think of what I do as multiculturalism in part because I work in composition...

PART IV. TEACHING

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Introduction to Part IV

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pp. 207-210

Teaching is commonly evaluated on the circumstantial evidence of course descriptions and syllabi, course evaluations, teacher observations, teaching awards, and word of mouth. I usually fare well by these measures, probably because I plan courses carefully enough that the syllabus presents a fairly accurate week-by-week schedule of the work required of students. Students know what they will read and write and when assignments are due in the courses I offer. I even include descriptions of all the writing...

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Writing about Difference: The Syllabus for English 306

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pp. 211-227

Teaching is commonly evaluated on the circumstantial evidence of course descriptions and syllabi, course evaluations, teacher observations, teaching awards, and word of mouth. I usually fare well by these measures, probably because I plan courses carefully enough that the syllabus presents a fairly accurate week-by-week schedule of the work required of students. Students know what they will read and write and when assignments are due in the courses I offer. I even include descriptions of all the writing...

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Writing about Difference: "Hard Cases" for Cultural Studies

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pp. 228-245

Some twenty years ago, James Kinneavy introduced A Theory of Discourse with a formidable catalog of the institutional barriers facing composition: Composition is so clearly the stepchild of the English department that it is not a legitimate area of graduate study, is not even recognized as a subdivision of the discipline of English in a recent manifesto put out by the major professional association (MLA) of college English teachers, in some universities...

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An Autoethnography in Parts

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pp. 246-258

December 11, 1973: District Court Opinion determined the entire Denver School District to be a "dual" school system and that a system-wide plan of desegregation "root and branch" was therefore required under Supreme Court mandate. December 17, 1973: Federal Court Judge William E. Doyle ordered that plans for desegregation of the Denver Public Schools..

The Spirit of Literacy

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pp. 259-263

A Literacy of Silence

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pp. 264-274

Catholic Boy: An Account of Parochial School Literacy

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pp. 275-283

Resisting the Assignment

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pp. 284-296

Works Consulted

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pp. 297-310

Index

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pp. 311-316