Field Of Dreams
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Utah State University Press
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INTRODUCTION: Cautionary Tales about Change
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This volume, like so many texts, grew out of lived experiences. When the idea for this book took hold, the three of us were working in a newly constructed writing and linguistics department at Georgia Southern University (see Agnew and Dallas, this volume, for more information). Larry was chair of the department (after serving as acting chair), and Angela and Peggy were ...
I. Local Scenes: STORIES OF INDEPENDENT WRITING PROGRAMS
1. THE ORIGINS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ACADEMIC, CREATIVE, AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING AT GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
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There has been a great deal of discussion recently about the decline and fall of literature, about the lost agenda and corruption of the humanities, about our embattled profession. Andrew Delbanco opens a November 1999 article in the New York Review of Books with a stinging anecdote meant to explain something about how funds are allocated for faculty positions. ...
2. INTERNAL FRICTION IN A NEW INDEPENDENT DEPARTMENT OF WRITING: And What the External Conflict Resolution Consultants Recommended
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In fall 1997, the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University was formed when the Department of English and Philosophy was reorganized into two separate units. We, as tenured faculty who witnessed this reorganization, saw our new department of sixty full-time faculty embark upon a honeymoon period. With high morale, most of the faculty ...
3. WRITING IDENTITY: The Independent Writing Department as a Disciplinary Center
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Is an independent writing program—actually, an independent department in our case—any different from any other writing program? In fact, we share the familiar struggle for academic identity and meaningful recognition. The perception of writing as a service course is so pervasive in academic culture that any attempt to expand that perception creates dissonance. ...
4. SMALL BUT GOOD: How a Specialized Writing Program Goes It Alone
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My story is of a technical and professional writing program at a state uni-versity that grew out of a special major in the mid-1980s, then, unwantedby the English department, formed itself as an independent, interdisci-plinary home for a career-oriented minor. The program now also offersa bachelor’s degree and a certificate, yet it remains disconnected in...
5. INDEPENDENCE FOSTERING COMMUNITY: The Benefits of an Independent Writing Program at a Small Liberal Arts College
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In his preface to Developing Successful College Writing Programs, Edward White laments that “college and university writing programs usually develop organically as needs appear; they are not so much planned or organized as inherited and casually coordinated” (1989, xvii). Insufficient planning and inadequate organization may bedevil a writing program that emerges in response ...
6. NO LONGER DISCOURSE TECHNICIANS: Redefining Place and Purpose in an Independent Canadian Writing Program
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In a recent, often brilliant, reading of the Rhetoric, Eugene Garver revisits a central distinction in Aristotle’s thinking: the difference between professional and civic rhetorics. Like other noble arts, says Garver, rhetoric has both a given (external) end and guiding (internal) ends. Its given end, persuasion, can be achieved by any professional rhetor with the appropriate technical ...
II. Beyond the Local: CONNECTIONS AMONG COMMUNITIES
7. LEARNING AS WE G(R)O(W): Strategizing the Lessons of a Fledgling Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department
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Even before the Wyoming Resolution and certainly ever since, compositionists have debated how we might improve the material conditions of teaching writing. Like the promise of the New World shone for many an immigrant, our vision of a legitimate discipline and—even better—a stand-alone department of rhetoric and writing seemed to guarantee ...
8. CREATING TWO DEPARTMENTS OF WRITING: One Past and One Future
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It’s tempting to start this piece by invoking Martin Luther King’s famous “Free at last. Free at last.” The temptation to celebrate once given the opportunity to be “out on your own” is great. It’s not unlike the feeling many of us may have had when we found ourselves at age eighteen at college and “on our own.” ...
9. WHO WANTS COMPOSITION?: Reflections on the Rise and Fall of an Independent Program
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In the summer of 1996, while at a conference in Europe, I was removed as director of one of the largest independent composition programs in the country—the Program in Composition and Communication at the University of Minnesota—by a temporary dean.1 I returned to find that my administrative position had been given to a specialist in eighteenth century literature, ...
10. REVISING THE DREAM: Graduate Students, Independent Writing Programs, and the Future of English Studies
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If the last thirty years of deconstruction, feminism, and poststructuralist criticism have taught us anything, it is that our stories are not innocent, that every plot is political, and that histories are subject—and subjected— to interpretation and revision. If this belief has become a foundation for scholarly writing in English studies, it is surprisingly missing from the writing scholars ...
11. LOCATING WRITING PROGRAMS IN RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES
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Typically those of us in higher education expect writing programs, particularly first-year composition programs, to be located within universities’ English departments. At large research universities, there is a stereotype about writing programs: they are run by English faculty members with the first-year writing courses staffed by English graduate students ...
12. WAGERING TENURE BY SIGNING ON WITH INDEPENDENT WRITING PROGRAMS
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Villanueva’s ad seduces. To a composition scholar, working collaboratively and focused on technology, such an ad suggests a fantasyland worth visiting, particularly given the familiar histories unspoken within this ad—the devaluation of composition labor within traditional literature departments (e.g., Anson in this collection). ...
III. The Big Picture: IMPLICATIONS FOR COMPOSITION, ENGLISH STUDIES, AND LITERACY EDUCATION
13. A ROSE BY EVERY OTHER NAME: The Excellent Problem of Independent Writing Programs
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Perhaps I shouldn’t have started writing about independent writing programs immediately after returning home from a two-hour English department meeting on hiring needs, tenure criteria, and the election of the next year’s evaluation committee. My department is staffed at these approximate faculty levels—60 percent literature faculty, ...
14. KEEPING (IN) OUR PLACES, KEEPING OUR TWO FACES
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Reading through the chapters in this collection, I keep thinking how far we’ve come and how much we’ve stayed in place since we professed that we do indeed have a discipline, whether we call it rhetoric and composition, composition and rhetoric, rhetoric and writing, or whatever. But in our various namings, I think we have been careful to capture by these yokings our Janus-faced nature. ...
15. MANAGING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
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As we grow older and lose the ability to see the immediate world in vibrant detail, many of us are forced to put on bifocals to read and see. Those of us who were nearsighted are left unable to see what’s in front of our face as well as things coming at us from a distance. We shift our gaze back and forth across that line between nearsightedness ...
16. STASIS AND CHANGE: The Role of Independent Composition Programs and the Dynamic Nature of Literacy
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As a collection, the essays in Field of Dreams tell a compelling story about our profession’s willingness to embrace change. They demonstrate, for instance, a commitment to rethinking the relationship between programs of literary studies and programs of writing studies and the role both play within twenty-first century universities. ...
17. BIGGER THAN A DISCIPLINE?
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I hesitate to call it “composition,” and I’m dissatisfied with “rhetoric” as well, which has never really managed to free itself from the ponderousness of The Classics. But whatever we eventually call it, a field dedicated to the teaching and study of writing might enjoy brighter prospects now than at any time since the 1950s, when growing access to higher education made English 101 a standard feature ...
AFTERWORD: Countering the Naysayers—Independent Writing Programs as Successful Experiments in American Education
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We are conditioned by countless negative perspectives on American education, on the corrupt nature of our political institutions, on the bleak future for individual consciousness, on the failed experiment in nation-building that began a relatively brief two hundred years ago. Poets, novelists, historians, philosophers, literary critics, educators, ...
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NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
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Publication Year: 2002