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Listening to Our Elders

Working and Writing for Change

Samantha Blackmon, Cristina Kirklighter, and Steve Parks, eds.

Publication Year: 2011

In 2011, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) turned one hundred years old. But our profession is endlessly beginning, constantly transforming itself and its purpose as new voices and identities claim their rights in our classrooms and in our country. The recognition of such claims, however, does not occur without a struggle, without collective work.  
  Listening to our Elders attempts to capture the history of those collective moments where teachers across grade levels and institutions of higher education organized to insure that the voices, heritages, and traditions of their students and colleagues were recognized within our professional organizations as a vital part of our classrooms and our discipline. In doing so, Listening to Our Elders demonstrates this recognition was not always easily given. Instead, whether the issue was race, sexuality, class, or disability, committed activist organizations have often had to push against the existing limits of our field and its organizations to insure a broader sense of common responsibility and humanity was recognized. 
  Listening to Our Elders features interviews with Malea Powell (Native American Caucus), Joyce Rain Anderson (Native American Caucus), Jeffery Paul Chan (Asian/Asian American), James Hill (Black Caucus), James Dolmage (Committee for Disability Issue in College Composition), Geneva Smitherman (Language Policy Commitee), Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer (Latino/a Caucus), Victor Villanueva (Latino/a Caucus), Louise Dunlap (Progressive Caucus), Karen Hollis (Progressive Caucus), Louie Crew (Queer Caucus), William Thelin (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG), Bill Macauley (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG).

Published by: Utah State University Press

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Introduction Listening to Our Elders

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pp. 1-5

In 1979, J.N. Hook, Executive Secretary of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) from 1954–1960, published A Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE’s First Sixty-Seven Years. His description of the new voices and identities in one of his latter chapters, titled “Human Equation, 1968–1978,” marked the early days when identity based groups and activists ...

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American Indian Caucus. “We wanted to have an open and welcoming space”: An Interview with Malea Powell

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pp. 6-20

The following interview with Malea Powell was originally shot as a video interview. I am working with Samantha Blackmon, Cristina Kirklighter, and Steve Parks to produce a documentary component to the Writing and Working for Change project. The video interviews, shot by different caucus members and myself, seek to explore the history of the caucuses and SIGs. By conversing ...

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“Work to be done”. Native Americans and Visibility in English Studies: An Interview with Joyce Rain Anderson

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pp. 21-27

Joyce Rain Anderson is a faculty member at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, near her Wampanoag ancestral grounds. For more than twenty years, she has been an educator and activist in indigenous issues. Anderson has been a member of NCTE and CCCC for a number of years, winning a CCCC Scholars for the Dream Travel Award in 1996. ...

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Asian/Asian-American Caucus. A Career of Acting “Ill-Mannered”: An Interview with Jeffery Paul Chan on Reviewing Textbooks for NCTE and Teaching Ethnic Studies (Because it is Good for People)

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pp. 28-44

In June of 1971, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) invited to Urbana a select group of specialists on Chicano, African American, American Indian, and Asian American literature to review college textbooks used in American literature courses. During a week of working sessions, the Textbook Review Committee—a sub-group of the NCTE ...

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Black Caucus: A Conversation with James Hill

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pp. 45-55

When I reflect on my conversation with Dr. James Hill, I am reminded of a pivotal Toni Morrison quotation toward the end of Beloved: “It was not a story to pass on.” The genesis of the Black Caucus is an education that should not be passed on by any person—not just Blacks—because it is all of our history and its future is all of our responsibility. I knew that I wanted ...

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Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition. “I simply gave up trying to present at CCCC...”: A conversation with the Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition

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pp. 56-86

Disability has a troubled history in college composition. For most of the twentieth century, people with disabilities were institutionalized in asylums, “schools” for the “feeble-minded,” and other exclusionary institutions: locations deemed the inverse of the college or university. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ...

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Language Policy Committee. “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution”: A conversation with Geneva Smitherman on Language, Power, and Social Change

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pp. 87-121

Dr. Geneva Smitherman (“Dr. G”) has been a central figure within almost every radical change in the field of writing, rhetoric, and composition studies over the course of nearly a half-century. From her leading role in the 4C’s Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution and creation of the National Language Policy and Language Policy Committee, to her ...

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Latino/a Caucus. Chicana Trailblazer in NCTE/CCCC: An Interview with Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer

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pp. 122-133

“Enter, unbidden and, occasionally, unwelcome, a new generation of English teachers of color, ready, willing, and determined to enact in their own profession the changes occurring so dramatically in the rest of American society. We were armed with both a high level of professional expertise and prepared to channel it through the deep wells of our own unique, personal, ...

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“When I came to the Caucus...”: An Interview with Victor Villanueva

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pp. 134-144

Victor Villanueva, a Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican high school dropout, entered community college after the military (1968–1975), earning his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington (with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition studies) ten years later. He is currently a Regents Professor at Washington State University where he has been the ...

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Progressive Caucus. Combating Institutional Neutrality: Remembering the Progressive Composition Caucus with Louise Dunlap, Karyn Hollis, and Frank Gaik

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pp. 145-154

Founded in 1982 by an editorial collective of friends anchored around Karyn Hollis, then a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California, the Progressive Composition Caucus (PCC) served as a clearinghouse for activist writing teachers and scholars to share news, ideas, pedagogies, and calls for action during the lean years of the Reagan/Bush ...

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Queer Caucus. Renaming Curiosity/Resisting Ignorance: Interviewing Queerness

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pp. 155-174

If we think the idea of naming is important, the changes indicated by renaming may indicate even more significance. Since the inception of a GLBTQ-affiliated SIG in the 1970s, the group has changed names various times: Committee on Lesbian and Gay Male Concerns in the English Profession (1972); Lesbian and Gay Male Caucus (1976); Lesbian and ...

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Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy Special Interest Group The Conflict with Class. The Conflict with Class: An Interview with William Thelin of the Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG

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pp. 175-188

Bill Thelin was the chair of the Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy special interest group of the CCCC from 2004–2009. As one of the original members, Bill led or co-led several initiatives, such as the tutoring outreach to local communities, the Bring-A-Book project, and resolutions and sense of the house motions concerning labor and academic freedom. ...

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Working-Class Culture & Pedagogy SIG and Bring-A-Book

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pp. 189-193

In the fall of 2001, Ed Whitelock suggested to Ira Shor that we collect books from CCCC conference goers, books that had been significant in their literacy development, and donate those books to literacy programs within CCCC-host cities that served working-class and poor communities. It was in Chicago that next spring that Bring-A-Book was begun. ...

Editor Profiles

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p. 194-194


E-ISBN-13: 9780874218572
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218565

Publication Year: 2011