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Identity Papers

Literacy and Power in Higher Education

edited by Bronwyn T. Williams

Publication Year: 2006

How do definitions of literacy in the academy, and the pedagogies that reinforce such definitions, influence and shape our identities as teachers, scholars, and students? The contributors gathered here reflect on those moments when the dominant cultural and institutional definitions of our identities conflict with our other identities, shaped by class, race, gender, sexual orientation, location, or other cultural factors.

These writers explore the struggle, identify the sources of conflict, and discuss how they respond personally to such tensions in their scholarship, teaching, and administration. They also illustrate how writing helps them and their students compose alternative identities that may allow the connection of professional identities with internal desires and senses of self. They emphasize how identity comes into play in education and literacy and how institutional and cultural power is reinforced in the pedagogies and values of the writing classroom and writing profession.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. vii

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1 Introduction: Literacy, Power, and the Shaping of Identity

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pp. 1-14

We’ve all seen them on college and university catalogues, brochures, posters, and viewbooks. They are the obligatory photographs of happy, attractive students in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and fresh green lawns, reading and writing under the thoughtful and attentive guidance of their professors. ...

PART I Institutions and Struggles for Identity

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2 Social Class as Discourse: The Construction of Subjectivities in English

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pp. 17-28

During the last week of June in 1970, I stepped onto a college campus for the first time in my life. I was 18 and I had come to Ohio State that week for freshman orientation. I had come to Columbus from Warren, about 160 miles to the northeast, on a Greyhound bus. I had never seen the Ohio State campus before except ...

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pp. 29-41

Imagine for a moment that you are not a practitioner of composition studies but instead a bricklayer. You have earnestly prepared for your profession. You enjoy building strong, useful structures. Eagerly you arrive at the worksite where you have been engaged to build a wall. You look around, puzzled. ...

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4 The Feminist WPA Project: Fear and Possibility in the Feminist “Home”

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pp. 42-56

Narrating the rhetorical spaces in which I came to compose and continue to recompose one Feminist WPA Project involves a certain amount of what Shirley K. Rose (1998) has called “indiscretion” and every indiscretion involves risk. This is a story of the fear and possibility at once limiting and inspiring the rhetorical ...

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5 When “Ms. Mentor” Misses the Mark: Literacy and Lesbian Identity in the Academy

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pp. 57-74

In a recent installment of her advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ms. Mentor (a.k.a. Emily Toth) counsels academic women struggling to negotiate their various identities (as minority women, mothers, untenured professors) with their sometimes disappointing and often misleading jobs.1 ...

PART II Identity in the Composition Classroom

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6 She Toiled for a Living: Writing Lives and Identities of Older Female Students

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pp. 77-91

I was 40 years old, a nontraditional undergraduate enrolled in a women’s liberal arts college on the East Coast, about ready to graduate, and thinking about my future. My college experience at this school had been a good one, largely because the institution had invested much time and money in the building and ...

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pp. 92-108

What would it mean for the field of composition to study the literacy habits of undergraduate students identified as talented, privileged, and academically successful? What new information can this group of writers tell us about the relationship between literacy development and education? How might our pedagogies ...

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8 Speaking from the Borderlands: Exploring Narratives of Teacher Identity

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pp. 109-121

What does it mean to be a secondary school teacher? Those who have been high school or middle school teachers know that secondary school teaching is demanding work. They have taught 130-plus adolescents per day, spent weekends and evenings grading papers and planning lessons, and have negotiated the competing ...

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9 “Who Are They and What Do They Have to Do with What I want to Be?” The Writing of Multicultural Identity and College Success Stories for First-Year Writers

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pp. 122-138

No matter what theoretical approach they offer, the rhetoric/readers of first-year writing courses have, for at least the last decade and a half, made an ostensible bow to diversity and multiculturalism. While not altogether abandoning the essays of Anglo-European American writers such as Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, ...

PART III Identity Outside the Institutional Walls

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pp. 141-153

Imagine with me Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska, population 591. We’ve driven up from Lincoln, the University town, and it’s evening, early summer, our Mid-Plains air heavy with moisture and the scent of milo. The two-lane runs mostly straight north, and every rise in elevation is matched by a corresponding drop a quarter mile further. ...

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11 Some Trouble with Discourses: What Conflicts Between Subjects and Ethnographers Tell Us About What Students Don’t/Won’t/ Can’t Say

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pp. 154-169

Embedded within Beth Roy’s (1994) ethnography, Some Trouble with Cows: Making Sense of Social Conflict, is an exploration of methods for studying how individuals remember and reconstruct contested, emotionally charged events. Roy suggests that close attention to subjects’ patterns for remembering and reporting can ...

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pp. 170-181

The events of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath would seem to provide all the corroboration necessary to substantiate the claim that this is a “posttraumatic culture”—the idea, in other words, that the twenty-first century has begun the way the twentieth century ended: as an especially catastrophic age characterized by ...

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13 Conclusion: Working Bodies: Class Matters in College Composition

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pp. 182-191

This is a partial reading of the collection, so let me start with an account of the how-why-what of the questions framing my response. Summer of 2005. I’m putting together a graduate course titled “Class Matters: The Information Age,” a project aimed at examining composition scholarship on the relations between matters of class, ...


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pp. 192-195


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pp. 196-206


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pp. 207-208


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pp. 209-212

E-ISBN-13: 9780874215465
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874216493

Publication Year: 2006