University of Pittsburgh Press

Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

David Bartholomae and Jean Ferguson Carr, Editors

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

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Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness

by Patricia Bizzell

This collection of essays traces the attempts of one writing teacher to understand theoretically - and to respond pedagogically - to what happens when students from diverse backgrounds learn to use language in college. Bizzell begins from the assumption that democratic education requires us to attempt to educate all students, including those whose social or ethnic backgrounds may have offered them little experience with academic discourse. Over the ten-year period chronicled in these essays, she has seen herself primarily as an advocate for such students, sometimes called “basic writers.” Bizzell’s views on education for “critical consciousness,” widely discussed in the writing field, are represented in most of the essays in this volume. But in the last few chapters, and in the intellectual autobiography written as the introduction to the volume, she calls her previous work into question on the grounds that her self-appointment as an advocate for basic writers may have been presumptious, and her hopes for the politically liberating effects of academic discourse misplaced. She concludes by calling for a theory of discourse that acknowledges the need to argue for values and pedagogy that can assist these arguments to proceed more inclusively than ever before. The essays in this volume constitute the main body of work in which Bizzell developed her influential and often cited ideas. Organized chronologically, they present a picture of how she has grappled with major issues in composition studies over the past decade. In the process, she sketches a trajectory for the development of composition studies as an academic discipline.

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Acts of Enjoyment

Rhetoric, Zizek, and the Return of the Subject

by Thomas Rickert

Why are today's students not realizing their potential as critical thinkers? Although educators have, for two decades, incorporated contemporary cultural studies into the teaching of composition and rhetoric, many students lack the powers of self-expression that are crucial for effecting social change. Acts of Enjoyment presents a critique of current pedagogies and introduces a psychoanalytical approach in teaching composition and rhetoric. Thomas Rickert builds upon the advances of cultural studies and its focus on societal trends and broadens this view by placing attention on the conscious and subconscious thought of the individual. By introducing the cultural theory work of Slavoj Zizek, Rickert seeks to encourage personal and social invention--rather than simply following a course of unity, equity, or consensus that is so prevalent in current writing instruction. He argues that writing should not be treated as a simple skill, as a naïve self expression, or as a tool for personal advancement, but rather as a reflection of social and psychical forces, such as jouissance (enjoyment/sensual pleasure), desire, and fantasy-creating a more sophisticated, panoptic form. The goal of the psychoanalytical approach is to highlight the best pedagogical aspects of cultural studies to allow for well-rounded individual expression, ultimately providing the tools necessary to address larger issues of politics, popular culture, ideology, and social transformation.

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Ambient Rhetoric

The Attunements of Rhetorical Being

Thomas Rickert

In Ambient Rhetoric, Thomas Rickert seeks to dissolve the boundaries of the rhetorical tradition and its basic dichotomy of subject and object. With the advent of new technologies, new media, and the dispersion of human agency through external information sources, rhetoric can no longer remain tied to the autonomy of human will and cognition as the sole determinants in the discursive act. Rickert develops the concept of ambience in order to engage all of the elements that comprise the ecologies in which we exist. Culling from Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology in Being and Time, Rickert finds the basis for ambience in Heidegger’s assertion that humans do not exist in a vacuum; there is a constant and fluid relation to the material, informational, and emotional spaces in which they dwell. Hence, humans are not the exclusive actors in the rhetorical equation; agency can be found in innumerable things, objects, and spaces. As Rickert asserts, it is only after we become attuned to these influences that rhetoric can make a first step toward sufficiency. Rickert also recalls the foundational Greek philosophical concepts of kairos (time), chōra (space/place), and periechon (surroundings) and cites their repurposing by modern and postmodern thinkers as “informational scaffolding” for how we reason, feel, and act. He discusses contemporary theory in cognitive science, rhetoric, and object-oriented philosophy to expand his argument for the essentiality of ambience to the field of rhetoric. Rickert then examines works of ambient music that incorporate natural and artificial sound, spaces, and technologies, finding them to be exemplary of a more fully resonant and experiential media. In his preface, Rickert compares ambience to the fermenting of wine—how it’s distinctive flavor can be traced to innumerable factors, including sun, soil, water, region, and grape variety. The environment and company with whom it’s consumed further enhance the taste experience. And so it should be with rhetoric—to be considered among all of its influences. As Rickert demonstrates, the larger world that we inhabit (and that inhabits us) must be fully embraced if we are to advance as beings and rhetors within it.

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American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance

Word Medicine, Word Magic

Edited by Ernest Stromberg

This volume presents an original critical and theoretical analysis of American Indian rhetorical practices in both canonical and previously overlooked texts: autobiographies, memoirs, prophecies, and oral storytelling traditions. Ernest Stromberg assembles essays from a range of academic disciplines that investigate the rhetorical strategies of Native American orators, writers, activists, leaders, and intellectuals. The contributors consider rhetoric in broad terms, ranging from Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as “the faculty . . . of discovering in the particular case what are the available means of persuasion,” to the ways in which Native Americans assimilated and revised Western rhetorical concepts and language to form their own discourse with European and American colonists. They relate the power and use of rhetoric in treaty negotiations, written accounts of historic conflicts and events, and ongoing relations between American Indian governments and the United States. This is a groundbreaking collection for readers interested in Native American issues and the study of language. In presenting an examination of past and present Native American rhetoric, it emphasizes the need for an improved understanding of multicultural perspectives.

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Beyond the Pulpit

Women’s Rhetorical Roles in the Antebellum Religious Press

Lisa J. Shaver

In the formative years of the Methodist Church in the United States, women played significant roles as proselytizers, organizers, lay ministers, and majority members. Although women's participation helped the church to become the nation's largest denomination by the mid-nineteenth century, their official roles diminished during that time. In Beyond the Pulpit, Lisa Shaver examines Methodist periodicals as a rhetorical space to which women turned to find, and make, self-meaning. In 1818, Methodist Magazine first published "memoirs" that eulogized women as powerful witnesses for their faith on their deathbeds. As Shaver observes, it was only in death that a woman could achieve the status of minister. Another Methodist publication, the Christian Advocate, was America's largest circulated weekly by the mid-1830s. It featured the "Ladies' Department," a column that reinforced the canon of women as dutiful wives, mothers, and household managers. Here, the church also affirmed women in the important rhetorical and evangelical role of domestic preacher. Outside the "Ladies Department," women increasingly appeared in "little narratives" in which they were portrayed as models of piety and charity, benefactors, organizers, Sunday school administrators and teachers, missionaries, and ministers' assistants. These texts cast women into nondomestic roles that were institutionally sanctioned and widely disseminated. By 1841, the Ladies' Repository and Gatherings of the West was engaging women in discussions of religion, politics, education, science, and a variety of intellectual debates. As Shaver posits, by providing a forum for women writers and readers, the church gave them an official rhetorical space and the license to define their own roles and spheres of influence. As such, the periodicals of the Methodist church became an important public venue in which women's voices were heard and their identities explored.

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Buying into English

Language and Investment in the New Capitalist World

by Catherine Prendergast

Many developing countries have little choice but to “buy into English” as a path to ideological and material betterment. Based on extensive fieldwork in Slovakia, Prendergast assembles a rich ethnographic study that records the thoughts, aspirations, and concerns of Slovak nationals, language instructors, journalists, and textbook authors who contend with the increasing importance of English to their rapidly evolving world. She reveals how the use of English in everyday life has becomes suffused with the terms of the knowledge and information economy, where language is manipulated for power and profit. Buying into English presents an astute analysis of the factors that have made English so prominent and yet so elusive, and a deconstruction of the myth of guaranteed viability for new states and economies through English.

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Composition in the University

Historical and Polemical Essays

by Sharon Crowley

Composition in the University examines the required introductory course in composition within American colleges and universities. Crowley argues that due to its association with literary studies in English departments, composition instruction has been inappropriately influenced by humanist pedagogy and that modern humanism is not a satisfactory rationale for the study of writing. Crowley envisions possible nonhumanist rationales that could be developed for vertical curricula in writing instruction, were the universal requirement not in place.

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Composition-Rhetoric

Backgrounds, Theory, and Pedagogy

by Robert J. Connors

Connors provides a history of composition and its pedagogical approaches to form, genre, and correctness. He shows where many of the today’s practices and assumptions about writing come from, and he translates what our techniques and theories of teaching have said over time about our attitudes toward students, language and life. Connors locates the beginning of a new rhetorical tradition in the mid-nineteenth century, and from there, he discusses the theoretical and pedagogical innovations of the last two centuries as the result of historical forces, social needs, and cultural shifts. This important book proves that American composition-rhetoric is a genuine, rhetorical tradition with its own evolving theoria and praxis. As such it is an essential reference for all teachers of English and students of American education.

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A Counter-History of Composition

Toward Methodologies of Complexity

by Byron Hawk

A Counter-History of Composition contests the foundational disciplinary assumption that vitalism and contemporary rhetoric represent opposing, disconnected poles in the writing tradition. Vitalism has been historically linked to expressivism and concurrently dismissed as innate, intuitive, and unteachable, whereas rhetoric is seen as a rational, teachable method for producing argumentative texts. Counter to this, Byron Hawk identifies vitalism as the ground for producing rhetorical texts-the product of complex material relations rather than the product of chance. Through insightful historical analysis ranging from classical Greek rhetoric to contemporary complexity theory, Hawk defines three forms of vitalism (oppositional, investigative, and complex) and argues for their application in the environments where students write and think today. Hawk proposes that complex vitalism will prove a useful tool in formulating post-dialectical pedagogies, most notably in the context of emerging digital media. He relates two specific examples of applying complex vitalism in the classroom and calls for the reexamination and reinvention of current self-limiting pedagogies to incorporate vitalism and complexity theory.

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Crossing Borderlands

Composition and Post-Colonial Studies

Edited by Andrea A. Lunsford and Lahoucine Ouzgane

On the surface, postcolonial studies and composition studies appear to have little in common. However, they share a strikingly similar goal: to provide power to the words and actions of those who have been marginalized or oppressed. Postcolonial studies accomplishes this goal by opening a space for the voices of “others” in traditional views of history and literature. Composition studies strives to empower students by providing equal access to higher education and validation for their writing. For two fields that have so much in common, very little dialogue exists between them. Crossing Borderlands attempts to establish such an exchange in the hopes of creating a productive “borderland” where they can work together to realize common goals.

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