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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Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

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Distant Publics

Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis

Jenny Rice

Urban sprawl is omnipresent in America and has left many citizens questioning their ability to stop it. In Distant Publics, Jenny Rice examines patterns of public discourse that have evolved in response to development in urban and suburban environments. Centering her study on Austin, Texas, Rice finds a city that has simultaneously celebrated and despised development. Rice outlines three distinct ways that the rhetoric of publics counteracts development: through injury claims, memory claims, and equivalence claims. In injury claims, rhetors frame themselves as victims in a dispute. Memory claims allow rhetors to anchor themselves to an older, deliberative space, rather than to a newly evolving one. Equivalence claims see the benefits on both sides of an issue, and here rhetors effectively become nonactors. Rice provides case studies of development disputes that place the reader in the middle of real-life controversies and evidence her theories of claims-based public rhetorics. She finds that these methods comprise the most common (though not exclusive) vernacular surrounding development and shows how each is often counterproductive to its own goals. Rice further demonstrates that these claims create a particular role or public subjectivity grounded in one’s own feelings, which serves to distance publics from each other and the issues at hand. Rice argues that rhetoricians have a duty to transform current patterns of public development discourse so that all individuals may engage in matters of crisis. She articulates its sustainability as both a goal and future disciplinary challenge of rhetorical studies and offers tools and methodologies toward that end.

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Eating on the Street

Teaching Literacy in a Multicultural Society

by David Schaafsma

David Schaafsma presents a powerful and compelling book about the struggle of teaching literacy in a racially divided society and the importance of story and storytelling in the educational process. At the core of this book is the concept of storytelling as an interactive experience for both the teller and listener. Schaafsma offers rich samples of students' writing about their lives in a troubled neighborhood. Eating on the Street offers stories by Schaafsma, his colleagues, and students to illustrate how talking across multiple perspectives can enrich the learning process and the community-building process outside the classroom as well.

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The Evolution of College English

Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns

Thomas P. Miller

In The Evolution of College English, Thomas P. Miller defines college English studies as literacy studies and presents a history of how it has evolved in tandem with broader developments. He maps out “four corners” of English departments: literature, language studies, teacher education, and writing studies. Miller identifies their development with changes in the technologies and economies of literacy that have redefined what students write and read, which careers they enter, and how literature represents their experiences and aspirations. Miller looks to comprehensive departments of English that value studies of teaching, writing, and language as well as literature. He also examines broadly based institutions that are engaged with writing at work in public life, with schools and public agencies, with access issues, and with media, ethnic, and cultural studies. With the growing privatization of higher education, such pragmatic engagements become vital to sustaining a civic vision of English studies and the humanities generally.

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Experimental Writing in Composition

Aesthetics and Pedagogies

Patricia Suzanne Sullivan

From the outset, experimental writing has been viewed as a means to afford a more creative space for students to express individuality, underrepresented social realities, and criticisms of dominant sociopolitical discourses and their institutions. Yet, the recent trend toward multimedia texts has left many composition instructors with little basis from which to assess these new forms and to formulate pedagogies. In this original study, Patricia Suzanne Sullivan provides a critical history of experimental writing theory and its aesthetic foundations and demonstrates their application to current multimodal writing. Sullivan unpacks the work of major scholars in composition and rhetoric and their theories on aesthetics, particularly avant-gardism. She also relates the dialectics that shape these aesthetics and sheds new light on both the positive and negative aspects of experimental writing and its attempts to redefine the writing disciplines. Additionally, she shows how current debates over the value of multimedia texts echo earlier arguments that pitted experimental writing against traditional models. Sullivan articulates the ways that multimedia is and isn’t changing composition pedagogies and provides insights into resolving these tensions.

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The Formation of College English

Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the British Cultural Provinces

by Thomas P. Miller

In the middle of the eighteenth century, English literature, composition, and rhetoric were introduced almost simultaneously into colleges throughout the British cultural provinces. Professorships of rhetoric and belles lettres were established just as print was reaching a growing reading public and efforts were being made to standardize educated taste and usage. The provinces saw English studies as a means to upward social mobility through cultural assimilation. In the educational centers of England, however, the introduction of English represented a literacy crisis brought on by provincial institutions that had failed to maintain classical texts and learned languages. Today, as rhetoric and composition have become reestablished in the humanities in American colleges, English studies are being broadly transformed by cultural studies, community literacies, and political controversies. Once again, English departments that are primarily departments of literature see these basic writing courses as a sign of a literacy crisis that is undermining the classics of literature. The Formation of College English reexamines the civic concerns of rhetoric and the politics that have shaped and continue to shape college English.

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Fragments of Rationality

Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition

by Lester Faigley

In an insightful assessment of the study and teaching of writing against the larger theoretical, political, and technological upheavals of the past thirty years, Fragments of Rationality questions why composition studies has been less affected by postmodern theory than other humanities and social science disciplines.

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From Form to Meaning

Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957–1974

David Fleming

In the spring of 1968, the English faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) voted to remedialize the first semester of its required freshman composition course, English 101. The following year, it eliminated outright the second semester course, English 102. For the next quarter-century, UW had no real campus-wide writing requirement, putting it out of step with its peer institutions and preventing it from fully joining the “composition revolution” of the 1970s. David Fleming chronicles these events, situating them against the backdrop of late 1960s student radicalism and the wider changes taking place in U.S. higher education at the time. Fleming begins with the founding of UW in 1848. He examines the rhetorical education provided in the university’s first half-century, the birth of a required, two semester composition course in 1898, faculty experimentation with that course in the 1920s and 1930s, and the rise of a massive “current-traditional” writing program, staffed primarily by graduate teaching assistants (TAs), after World War II. He then reveals how, starting around 1965, tensions between faculty and TAs concerning English 101-102 began to mount. By 1969, as the TAs were trying to take over the committee that supervised the course, the English faculty simply abandoned its long-standing commitment to freshman writing. In telling the story of composition’s demise at UW, Fleming shows how contributing factors—the growing reliance on TAs; the questioning of traditional curricula by young instructors and their students; the disinterest of faculty in teaching and administering general education courses—were part of a larger shift affecting universities nationally. He also connects the events of this period to the long, embattled history of freshman composition in the United States.

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A Geopolitics of Academic Writing

by A. Suresh Canagarajah

A Geopolitics of Academic Writing critiques current scholarly publishing practices, exposing the inequalities in the way academic knowledge is constructed and legitimized. As a periphery scholar now working in (and writing from) the center, Suresh Canagarajah is uniquely situated to demonstrate how and why contributions from Third World scholars are too often relegated to the perimeter of academic discourse. He examines three broad conventions governing academic writing: textual concerns (matters of languages, style, tone, and structure), social customs (the rituals governing the interactions of members of the academic community), and publishing practices (from submission protocols to photocopying and postage requirements). Canagarajah argues that the dominance of Western conventions in scholarly communication leads directly to the marginalization or appropriation of the knowledge of Third World communities.

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Illness as Narrative

While the illness narrative is now a staple of the publishing industry, the genre itself has posed a problem for literary studies. What is the role of criticism in relation to personal accounts of suffering? Can these narratives be judged on aesthetic grounds? Are they a collective expression of the lost intimacy of the patient-doctor relationship? Is their function thus instrumental—to elicit the reader’s empathy? To answer these questions, Ann Jurecic turns to major works on pain and suffering by Susan Sontag, Elaine Scarry, and Eve Sedgwick and reads these alongside illness narratives by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Reynolds Price, and Anne Fadiman, among others. In the process, she defines the subgenres of risk and pain narratives and explores a range of critical responses guided, alternately, by narrative empathy, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the practice of reparative reading.

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Imagining Rhetoric

Composing Women of the Early United States

Edited by Janet Carey Eldred and Peter Mortensen

Imagining Rhetoric examines how women’s writing developed in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War, and how women imagined using their education to further the civic aims of an idealistic new nation. In the late eighteenth century, proponents of female education in the United States appropriated the language of the Revolution to advance the cause of women’s literacy. Schooling for women—along with abolition, suffrage, and temperance—became one of the four primary arenas of nineteenth-century women’s activism. Following the Revolution, textbooks and fictions about schooling materialized that revealed ideal curricula for women covering subjects from botany and chemistry to rhetoric and composition. A few short decades later, such curricula and hopes for female civic rhetoric changed under the pressure of threatened disunion. Using a variety of texts, including novels, textbooks, letters, diaries, and memoirs, Janet Carey Eldred and Peter Mortensen chart the shifting ideas about how women should learn and use writing, from the early days of the republic through the antebellum years. They also reveal how these models shaped women’s awareness of female civic rhetoric—both its possibilities and limitations.

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