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What We Are Becoming

Developments in Undergratuate Writing Majors

Greg Giberson and Thomas A. Moriarty

Publication Year: 2010

Greg Giberson and Tom Moriarty have collected a rich volume that offers a state-of-the-field look at the question of the undergraduate writing major, a vital issue for compositionists as the discipline continues to evolve. What We Are Becoming provides an indispensable resource for departments and WPAs who are building undergraduate majors.
     Contributors to the volume address a range of vital questions for undergraduate programs, including such issues as the competition for majors within departments, the job market for undergraduates, varying focuses and curricula of such majors, and the formation of them in departments separate from English. Other chapters discuss the importance of flexibility, consider arguments for a rhetorical or civic discourse core for the writing major, address the relationship between rhetoric and composition majors, and review the role of multiliteracies in the major.
     The field of composition has not come to a consensus on the shape, content, or focus of the undergradutate major. But as individual programs develop and refine their curricula, one thing has become clear: we must think about them in ways that go beyond our particular circumstances, theorize them in ways that secure their place on our campuses and in our discipline for years to come. What We Are Becoming is an effort to do just that.

Published by: Utah State University Press

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Foreword

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pp. vii-viii

When we first discussed this book back in 2005, we had just revamped the undergraduate track in writing in the English department at Salisbury University (SU) in Maryland. After the revision of the program was complete, we continued to discuss the particular program we had developed, the courses we had chosen for the core, and the possible changes that...

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Introduction: Forging Connections Among Undergraduate Writing Majors

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pp. 1-10

When we first discussed this book back in 2005, we had just revamped the undergraduate track in writing in the English department at Salisbury University (SU) in Maryland. After the revision of the program was complete, we continued to discuss the particular program we had developed, the courses we had chosen for the core, and the possible changes that...

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Section 1: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Issues for Writing Majors

In this essay our argument will be that a post-disciplinary major in rhetoric and composition is a particularly good idea for research-intensive universities in the current technological and fiscal states of affairs. We shall describe the benefits such a major would potentially offer to contemporary students, to the faculty members who teach them, to...

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1. A Major in Flexibility

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pp. 13-31

In this essay our argument will be that a post-disciplinary major in rhetoric and composition is a particularly good idea for research-intensive universities in the current technological and fiscal states of affairs. We shall describe the benefits such a major would potentially offer to con- temporary students, to the faculty members who teach them, to...

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2. Redefining the Undergraduate English Writing Major: An Integrated Approach at a Small Comprehensive University

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pp. 32-49

The steady growth of undergraduate majors in rhetoric and composition in the last two decades has prompted discussions about the challenging development of these majors. In this chapter we will discuss the development of an undergraduate writing major with an integrated model at a small comprehensive university. This model provides us with a means of addressing some of the challenges faced by any...

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3. Restorying Disciplinary Relationships: The Development of an Undergraduate Writing Concentration

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pp. 50-66

These cautionary comments are all too familiar in both spirit and letter: Howard is reminding composition administrators that, rather than positioning ourselves as injured parties, compromise and savvy are absolutely vital if we are to build successful advanced writing curricula within English departments. Howard does not, by any means, deny the vexing...

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4. Outside the English Department: Oakland University’s Writing Program and the Writing and Rhetoric Major

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pp. 67-80

On May 7, 2008, the Oakland University (OU) Board of Trustees approved a proposal for a new major and minor in writing and rhetoric, the culmination of over ten years of effort by rhetoric faculty in the Department of Rhetoric, Communication, and Journalism. On June 1, 2008, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) officially launched the Department of Writing and Rhetoric as a stand-alone writing ...

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5. “Between the idea and the reality . . . falls the Shadow”: The Promise and Peril of a Small College Writing Major

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pp. 81-97

There is a certain intellectual and emotional appeal to an undergraduate writing major: majors bring students and advisees and money and tenure-lines and your name in the graduation bulletin. A writing major can also indicate that, finally, your institution recognizes writing as a legitimate academic field rather than simply a set of skills to be (quickly)...

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6. The Writing Major as Shared Commitment

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pp. 98-120

In 1945, Herbert Weisinger and his colleagues at Michigan State University felt they had reason to worry about the state of the field of English studies. To summarize the complaint using his own words: “The first and most serious charge which I shall lay against the present method [of preparation] is that the major can complete his work without having studied many of the important works in the history of English literature”...

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7. Dancing with Our Siblings: The Unlikely Case for a Rhetoric Major

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pp. 130-152

If the overall thrust of this book is to account for the possibility of a “writing major,” it takes its place alongside other anthologies (for example, Shamoon, Howard, Jamieson, and Schwegler’s Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum and special issues of composition journals (the spring 2007 edition of Composition Studies, for example). My own take on the major writing curriculum is grounded by my belief that the...

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8. Writing Program Development and Disciplinary Integrity: What’s Rhetoric Got to Do with It?

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pp. 153-173

In her report on the 1993 conference for New England Writing Program Administrators, Linda Shamoon et al. cites Stephen North’s call to use rhetoric as “the next formulation of our discipline,” and criticizes him and other scholars like him for failing to elaborate their “bases for rebuilding contemporary writing programs as rhetoric programs”...

Section 2: Curricula, Location, and Directions of Writing Majors

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9. Remembering the Canons’ Middle Sisters: Style, Memory, and the Return of the Progymnasmata in the Liberal Arts Writing Major

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pp. 177-203

Over the past four decades, the theory and practice of writing pedagogy have not treated the five canons of classical rhetoric equally. For a number of theoretical and institutional reasons, invention, arrangement, and delivery—the first, second, and fifth canons, respectively— have received the most attention. But as rhetoric and composition has...

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10. Civic Rhetoric and the Undergraduate Major in Rhetoric and Writing

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pp. 204-216

It’s an exciting time to be a rhetoric and writing specialist. (As we write this, we realize it’s always exciting to be a rhetoric and writing specialist, but these days, it seems particularly so.) Our job markets are strong, our graduate programs are thriving, and there’s a growing movement in writing programs across the country to develop undergraduate majors...

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11. Composing Multiliteracies and Image: Multimodal Writing Majors for a Creative Economy

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pp. 217-224

At one point while students were working on their in-class projects for the Multimedia Authoring class I was teaching, it occurred to me just how much these students were juggling: They had been researching community events and organizations for Web sites they were constructing; story-boarding and working in groups to determine who was going to film interviews for the mini-documentaries on student life they were...

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12. Not Just Another Pretty Classroom Genre: The Uses of Creative Nonfiction in the Writing Major

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pp. 225-242

As late as 2003, theoretical concerns prevented composition studies and creative writing from engaging in productive dialogue. One result of this scholarly cold war was to leave creative nonfiction an orphan (Hesse 2003). However, many from the academy in both of these writing disciplines have been calling for a union of the two, realizing that the theories and pedagogies of each inform and strengthen the other...

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13. The Writing Arts Major: A Work in Process

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pp. 243-259

As writers and teachers of writing, many of us can empathize with Burke’s characterization of revision: sometimes uncomfortable, almost always revealing, and, we hope, ultimately useful. In this chapter we, as faculty in Rowan University’s Department of Writing Arts, discuss how key aspects of revision—self-reflection, openness to feedback and new information, and flexibility—serve as a productive framework for...

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14. “What Exactly is This Major?” Creating Disciplinary Identity through an Introductory Course

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pp. 260-276

As members of a discipline that has often been accused of borrowing from others, we wish to begin by doing so. Imagine the following statement: “The writing-studies curriculum is perhaps better defined by what it’s not than what it is. It’s not tidy. It has no clear boundaries. Unlike, say, economics or chemistry, there is no...

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15. Toward a Description of Undergraduate Writing Majors

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pp. 277-286

Nearly fifteen years after the institution of a graduate program in rhetoric and composition at Purdue University, Janice Lauer, who helped to create the program and served as its director for over two decades, provided an account of its initiation and its ongoing development and maintenance. Her account, an essay titled “Constructing a Doctoral Program in Rhetoric and Composition,” was included in the well-known...

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Afterword

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pp. 287-289

This collection of essays marks an important moment in the development of rhetoric and composition as a discipline. It has been clear for a while that the undergraduate major in writing is growing at a remarkable rate, in terms of both the number of institutions that have such a major and the number of students enrolling in it. When the Conference...

About the Contributors

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pp. 290-294


E-ISBN-13: 9780874217643
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874217636

Page Count: 294
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States
  • Report writing -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States.
  • Creative writing (Higher education) -- United States
  • Writing centers -- United States.
  • English philology -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States.
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