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Under Construction

edited by Christine Farris & Chris M. Anson

Publication Year: 1998

Few composition scholars two decades ago would have imagined the rate at which their field is now developing, expanding beyond its boundaries, creating new alliances, and locating new sites for research and generation of knowledge. In their introduction to this volume, Farris and Anson argue that, faced with a welter of competing models, compositionists too quickly dichotomize and dismiss. The contributors to Under Construction, therefore, address themselves to the need for commerce among competing visions of the field. They represent diverse settings and distinct points of view, but their over-riding interest is in promoting a view of the field that values interaction and mutual development above dogmatics and isolation.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. v-vii

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Introduction: Complicating Composition

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pp. 1-8

As a field of professional inquiry intertwined with the practice and teaching of its own subject, composition studies has enjoyed the steady pace of its own recent evolution. Few composition scholars twenty years ago would have imagined the rate at which the field is now developing, exploding beyond its boundaries, ...

I. The Research/Theory/Practice Relationship

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1. Theory, Research, Practice, Work

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pp. 11-18

Paulo Freire, long an important influence on composition studies, argues that education must be a process by which students and teachers help each other become “more fully human” and, at the same time, “transform reality.” Central to this process is the phenomenon he calls “praxis,” the interaction between reflection ...

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2. Composing Composition Studies: Scholarly Publication and the Practice of Discipline

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pp. 19-29

Rhetoric and composition around the end of the nineteenth century has been described as “an academic desideratum . . . to be escaped as soon as practicable” (Connors, 1991, 55). As we approach 2000, it is one of the fastest growing academic fields in the university. ...

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3. Toward a Theory of Theory for Composition Studies

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pp. 30-48

In the mid-1980s, I was still hopeful that alliances might be negotiated among the theoretical communities emerging in literary studies and those scholars in composition studies who saw a value in doing composition theory. As different as these theoretical discourses seemed, I believed that there were strategic and ethical reasons ...

II. Critiquing Theories in Practice

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4. The Dialogic Function of Composition Pedagogy: Negotiating between Critical Theory and Public Values

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pp. 51-64

In animated battles of the 80s and 90s, teachers and scholars of composition have defended themselves and their discipline against what they variously describe as the hostility, contempt, or indifference of the literature faculty. Unlike most other internecine English contests, usually only one side of this debate ...

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5. Keeping Honest: Working-Class Students, Difference, and Rethinking the Critical Agenda in Composition

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pp. 65-78

Over the past fifteen years, many graduate programs in composition have been influenced by theories that are critical of the relations between discourse, knowledge, and multiple forms of power. Yet while composition studies often claim to privilege practice, our programs rarely allow these theories to be informed by practice. ...

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6. Rethinking the Personal Narrative: Life-Writing and Composition Pedagogy

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pp. 79-92

In a research paper course I recently taught with popular culture as its theme, a newly arrived Russian immigrant, Dmitriy, combined a review of personal narratives by contemporary multicultural writers—Leslie Marmon Silko, Adrienne Rich, Richard Rodriguez, Fan Shen, Dorinne Kondo, and Yelena Khanga—with his own story. ...

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7. What Difference the Differences Make: Theoretical and Epistemological Differences in Writing Assessment Practice

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pp. 93-108

This essay looks at the relationship between theory and practice in writing assessment.While this volume recognizes the many connections between theory, practice and research in composition, scholars in composition who work on writing assessment have not always shared an awareness of its theoretical assumptions and beliefs. ...

III. Refiguring and Relocating Research

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8. Voices of Research: Methodological Choices of a Disciplinary Community

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pp. 111-123

The field of composition studies—perhaps pre-disciplinary before the 1980s—made a simultaneous move toward disciplinarity and the social sciences in the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, a significant portion of composition studies has moved once again resolutely toward the humanities. ...

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9. Grounded Theory: A Critical Research Methodology

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pp. 124-135

In his last book, Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures, James Berlin talks about the social and political “formations and practices” that are always “involved in the shaping of consciousness, a shaping mediated by language and situated in concrete historical conditions” (1996, 169). Berlin reviews composition research ...

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10. Feminist Methodology: Dilemmas for Graduate Researchers

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pp. 136-149

I n this essay we will explore the implications of feminist methodology for composition researchers. Specifically, we will discuss the obligations, risks, and dilemmas a composition researcher committed to enacting a feminist research project can encounter in the processes of conducting an empirical research project, ...

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11. Insider/Outsider/Other?: Confronting the Centeredness of Race, Class, Color and Ethnicity in Composition Research

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pp. 150-165

I was troubled when I read Lynn Bloom’s (1996) essay about freshman composition being a “middle-class enterprise.” Bloom’s literacy equation left very little room for many of my linguistic minority students where writing was learned not as a way “to delight” or “to teach,” but rather as a way to stake a tenuous place ...

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12. Re-Centering Authority: Social Reflexivity and Re-Positioning in Composition Research

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pp. 166-180

This paper stems from an extended discussion and exploration of the ways we’ve tried to envision and enact a more socially responsible scholarship, one that builds bridges to facilitate border crossings. Where we come from, how far we’ve gone, what we still remain tied to—all remind us to make knowledge in ways ...

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13. Tracking Composition Research on the World Wide Web

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pp. 181-195

The Research Network Forum website greets its visitors with an olive-green image featuring two conference-style tables pulled together end to end and ringed with eight armless chairs. On each table rests a sheaf of plain white paper—one sewn at the spine, the other loose-leafed—suggesting work to be done, ...

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14. Farther Afield: Rethinking the Contributions of Research

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pp. 196-214

Over the past several years, composition researchers have broadened their inquiry to investigate sites outside of schools and universities. The impetus behind this move is a desire to understand the various forms of language and literacy in the workplace and the world, as well as the ways in which particular cultural ...

IV. Remaking Knowledge and Rewriting Practice

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15. A Rhetoric of Teacher-Talk—Or How to Make More Out of Lore

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pp. 217-233

Some time ago, I promised to do quite a few things in this chapter space. I would “create a preliminary rhetoric of teacher talk—lore, story, narrative research, testimony, literacy autobiography, and so on.” I would begin by refusing to argue about whether “teachers’ experiences create knowledge for the field” and focus ...

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16. Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between: The Methods Course and Reflective Rhetoric

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pp. 234-249

How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned? When I say that a methods class—a class in teaching prospective teachers—went well, that the students did learn, that I think they’ll be good teachers, what do I mean? And how would I know that such assertions were true? ...

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17. Rewriting Praxis (and Redefining Texts) in Composition Research

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pp. 250-281

I n 1994, I received a call for contributions to a writing center collection that would feature multivoiced perspectives on writing center issues. I approached two other graduate students,Marsha Penti and Suhail Islam, about joining me in composing a chapter for the book. The call for proposals stipulated that chapters ...

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18. Coming (in)to Consciousness: One Asian American Teacher’s Journey into Activist Teaching and Research

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pp. 282-301

Over ten years ago, C. H. Knoblauch and Lil Brannon (1984) reminded us how essential it is for teachers to “become conscious of the philosophical dimensions of their work because nothing short of that consciousness will make instruction sensible and deliberate, the result of knowledge, not folklore, and of design, ...

Works Cited

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pp. 302-323


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pp. 324-328


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pp. 329-332

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213188
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874212563

Publication Year: 1998