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Dangerous Writing

Understanding the Political Economy of Composition

Tony Scott

Building on recent work in rhetoric and composition that takes an historical materialist approach, Dangerous Writing outlines a political economic theory of composition. The book connects pedagogical practices in writing classes to their broader political economic contexts, and argues that the analytical power of students’ writing is prevented from reaching its potential by pressures within the academy and without, that tend to wed higher education with the aims and logics of “fast-capitalism.”

Since the 1980s and the “social turn” in composition studies and other disciplines, scholars in this field have conceived writing in college as explicitly embedded in socio-rhetorical situations beyond the classroom. From this conviction develops a commitment to teach writing with an emphasis on analyzing the social and political dimensions of rhetoric.

Ironically, though a leftist himself, Tony Scott’s analysis finds the academic left complicit with the forces in American culture that tend, in his view, to compromise education. By focusing on the structures of labor and of institutions that enforce those structures, Scott finds teachers and administrators are too easily swept along with the inertia of a hyper-commodified society in which students---especially working class students---are often positioned as commodities, themselves. Dangerous Writing, then, is a critique of the field as much as it is a critique of capitalism. Ultimately, Scott’s eye is on the institution and its structures, and it is these that he finds most in need of transformation.

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Defender

by Quentin Thomas Wells

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Disaster At The Colorado

Charles W. Baley

Across north-central New Mexico and Arizona, along the line of Route 66, now Interstate 40, there first ran a little-known wagon trail called Beale's Wagon Road, after Edward F. Beale, who surveyed it for the War Department in 1857. This survey became famous for employing camels. Not so well known is the fate of the first emigrants who the next year attempted to follow its tracks. The government considered the 1857 exploration a success and the road it opened a promising alternative route to California but expected such things as military posts and developed water supplies to be needed before it was ready for regular travel. Army representatives in New Mexico were more enthusiastic.

In 1858 there was a need for an alternative. Emigrants avoided the main California Trail because of a U.S. Army expedition to subdue Mormons in Utah. The Southern Route ran through Apache territory, was difficult for the army to guard, and was long. When a party of Missouri and Iowa emigrants known as the Rose-Baley wagon train arrived in Albuquerque, they were encouraged to be the first to try the new Beale road. Their journey became a rolling disaster. Beale's trail was more difficult to follow than expected; water sources and feed for livestock harder to find. Indians along the way had been described as peaceful, but the Hualapais persistently harassed the emigrants and shot their stock, and when the wagon train finally reached the Colorado River, a large party of Mojaves attacked them. Several of the emigrants were killed, and the remainder began a difficult retreat to Albuquerque. Their flight, with wounded companions and reduced supplies, became ever more arduous. Along the way they met other emigrant parties and convinced them to join the increasingly disorderly and distressed return journey.

Charles Baley tells this dramatic story and discusses its aftermath, for the emigrants, for Beale's Wagon Road, and for the Mojaves, against whom some of the emigrants pressed legal claims with the federal government.

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Discord And Direction

The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator

edited by Sharon James McGee & Carolyn Handa

The argument of this collection is that the cultural and intellectual legacies of postmodernism impinge, significantly and daily, on the practice of the Writing Program Administrator. WPAs work in spaces where they must assume responsibility for a multifaceted program, a diverse curriculum, instructors with varying pedagogies and technological expertise—and where they must position their program in relation to a university with its own conflicted mission, and a state with its unpredictable views of accountability and assessment.

The collection further argues that postmodernism offers a useful lens through which to understand the work of WPAs and to examine the discordant cultural and institutional issues that shape their work. Each chapter tackles a problem local to its author’s writing program or experience as a WPA, and each responds to existing discord in creative ways that move toward rebuilding and redirection.

It is a given that accepting the role of WPA will land you squarely in the bind between modernism and postmodernism: while composition studies as a field arguably still reflects a modernist ethos, the WPA must grapple daily with postmodern habits of thought and ways of being. The effort to live in this role may or may not mean that a WPA will adopt a postmodern stance; it does mean, however, that being a WPA requires dealing with the postmodern.

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Discursive Ideologies

Reading Western Rhetoric

By

In Discursive Ideologies, C. H. Knoblauch argues that European rhetorical theory comprises several distinct and fundamentally opposed traditions of discourse. Writing accessibly for the upper division student, Knoblauch resists the conventional narrative of a unified Western rhetorical tradition. He identifies deep ideological and epistemological differences that exist among strands of Western thought and that are based in divergent "grounds of meaningfulness.” These conflicts underlie and influence current discourse about vital public issues.

Knoblauch considers six "stories” about the meaning of meaning in an attempt to answer the question, what encourages us to believe that language acts are meaningful? Six distinctive ideologies of Western rhetoric emerge: magical rhetoric, ontological rhetoric, objectivist rhetoric, expressivist rhetoric, sociological rhetoric, and deconstructive rhetoric. He explores the nature of language and the important role these rhetorics play in the discourses that matter most to people, such as religion, education, public policy, science, law, and history.

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Diverse by Design

Literacy Education within Multicultural Institutions

Christopher Schroeder

Conflicts surrounding linguistic diversity are central to Diverse by Design, an institutional case study of an Hispanic-Serving Institution—in fact, the most ethnically diverse university in the midwest—situated within a metropolitan area shaped by immigration and migration. Christopher Schroeder examines the interactions of the institution and individuals, highlighting a cohort of Latino students enrolled in a special admissions program. He analyzes the ways that institutional language policies and literacy philosophies shape student experience within this institution, where ethnolinguistic diversity is framed as an educational obstacle to overcome rather than an intellectual opportunity to exploit.

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Dos Mundos

Rural Mexican Americans, Another America

Richard Baker

Mexican Americans make up the largest minority in Idaho, yet they seemingly live in a different world from the dominant Anglo population, and because of pervasive stereotypes and exclusive policies, their participation in the community's social, economic, and political life is continually impeded.

This unique ethnographic study of a small Idaho community with a large Hispanic population examines many dimensions of the impact race relations have on everyday life for rural Mexican Americans.

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Dynamics Of Folklore

Barre Toelken

One of the most comprehensive and widely praised introductions to folklore ever written. Toelken's discussion of the history and meaning of folklore is delivered in straightforward language, easily understood definitions, and a wealth of insightful and entertaining examples.

Toelken emphasizes dynamism and variety in the vast array of folk expressions he examines, from "the biology of folklore," to occupational and ethnic lore, food ways, holidays, personal experience narratives, ballads, myths, proverbs, jokes, crafts, and others. Chapters are followed by bibliographical essays, and over 100 photographs illustrate the text. This new edition is accessible to all levels of folklore study and an essential text for classroom instruction.

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Economies of Writing

edited by Bruce Horner

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