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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Inessential Solidarity

Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations

Diane Davis

In Inessential Solidarity, Diane Davis examines critical intersections of rhetoric and sociality in order to revise some of rhetorical theory’s basic presumptions. Rather than focus on the arguments and symbolic exchanges through which social relations are defined, Davis exposes an underivable rhetorical imperative, an obligation to respond that is as undeniable as the obligation to age. Situating this response-ability as the condition for, rather than the effect of, symbolic interaction, Davis both dissolves contemporary concerns about linguistic overdetermination and calls into question long-held presumptions about rhetoric’s relationship with identification, figuration, hermeneutics, agency, and judgment. Spotlighting a rhetorical ‘situation’ irreducible to symbolic relations, Davis proposes that rhetoric—rather than ontology, epistemology, or ethics—is “first philosophy.” The subject or “symbol-using animal” comes into being, only inasmuch as it responds to the other; the priority of the other is not a matter of the subject’s choice, then, but of its inescapable predicament. Directing the reader’s attention to this inessential solidarity without which no meaning-making or determinate social relation would be possible, Davis aims to nudge rhetorical studies beyond the epistemological concerns that typically circumscribe theories of persuasion toward the examination of a more fundamental affectability, persuadability, responsivity.

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Interests and Opportunities

Race, Racism, and University Writing Instruction in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Steven J. Lamos

In the late 1960s, colleges and universities became deeply embroiled in issues of racial equality. Hundreds of new programs were introduced to address the needs of “high-risk” minority and low-income students. In the years since, university policies have flip-flopped between calls to address minority needs and arguments to maintain “Standard English.” Today, anti-affirmative action and anti-access sentiments have put many of these programs in danger. Interests and Opportunities chronicles debates over writing programs for “high-risk” students on the national level and, locally, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using the critical race theorist Derrick Bell’s concept of “interest convergence,” Steve Lamos shows that these programs were promoted or derailed according to how and when they fit the interests of underrepresented minorities and mainstream whites (administrators and academics). To Lamos, understanding the past dynamics of convergence and divergence is key to formulating new strategies of local action and “story-changing” that can preserve and expand race consciousness and high-risk writing instruction, even in adverse political climates.

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Introducing English

Essays in the Intellectual Work of Composition

by James F. Slevin

Too often, Slevin claims, representations of composition take the form of promoting the field and its specialists, rather than explaining the fundamental work of composition and its important consequences. In thirteen thematically and methodologically linked essays, Slevin argues toward a view of the discipline as a set of activities, not as an enclosed field of knowledge. Such a view broadens the meaning of the work of composition to include teaching and learning, a two-way process, creating alliances across conventional educational boundaries, even beyond educational institutions.

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The Labyrinths of Literacy

Reflections on Literacy Past and Present (Revised Edition)

by Harvey J. Graff

A compelling collection by one of the pioneers of revisionist approaches to the history of literacy in North America and Europe, The Labyrinths of Literacy offers original and controversial views on the relation of literacy to society, leading the way for scholars and citizens who are willing to question the importance and function of literacy in the development of society today.

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The Language of Experience

Literate Practices and Social Change

by Gwen Gorzelsky

The Language of Experience examines the relationship between literacy and change--both personal and social. Gorzelsky studies three cases, two historical and one contemporary, that speak to key issues on the national education agenda. "Struggle" is a community literacy program for urban teens and parents. It encourages them to reflect on, articulate, and revise their life goals and design and implement strategies for reaching them. To provide historical context for this and other contemporary efforts in using literacy to promote social change, Gorzelsky analyzes two radical religious and political movements of the English Civil Wars and the 1930s unionizing movement in the Pittsburgh region. Charting the similarities and differences in the function of literate practices in each case shows how different situations and contexts can foster very different outcomes. Gorzelsky's analytic frame is drawn from Gestalt theory, which emphasizes the holistic nature of perception, communication, and learning. Through it she views how discourse and language structures interact with experience and how this interaction changes awareness and perception. The book is methodologically innovative in its integration of a macro-social view of cultural, social, and discursive structures with a micro-social view of the potential for change embodied in them. Through her analysis and in her use of the voices of the people she studies, Gorzelsky offers a tool for analyzing individual instances of literate practices and their potential for fostering change.

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Learning from Language

Symmetry, Asymmetry, and Literary Humanism

Walter H. Beale

In this book, Walter H. Beale seeks to bring together the disciplines of linguistics, rhetoric, and literary studies through the concept of symmetry (how words mirror thought, society, and our vision of the world). Citing thinkers from antiquity to the present, Beale provides an in-depth study of linguistic theory, development, and practice. He views the historic division between the schools of symmetry and asymmetry (a belief that language developed as a structure independent of human experience), as built into the character of language itself, and as an impediment to literary humanism (the combined study of language, rhetoric, and literature to improve the competence and character of the individual). In his analysis, Beale outlines and critiques traditional claims of symmetry, then offers new avenues of approach to the subject. In doing so, he examines how important issues of human culture and consciousness have parallels in processes of language; how linguistic patterns relate to pervasive human problems; how language is an active participant in the expression, performance, and construction of reality; the concepts of designating versus naming; figurative language as a process of reenvisioning reality; and the linking of style to virtue by the ancients. Beale concludes that both asymmetrical and symmetrical elements exist in language, each with their own relevance, and that they are complementary, rather than opposing philosophies. The basic intuitions of symmetry that relate language to life are powerful and important to all of English studies. Combined with a love for the workings, sounds, and structures of language, Beale says, an understanding of symmetry can help guide the pursuit of literary humanism.

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Literate Zeal

Gender, Editing, and the Making of a New Yorker Ethos

Janet Carey Eldred

Janet Carey Eldred examines the rise of women magazine editors during the mid-twentieth century and reveals their unheralded role in creating a literary aesthetic for the American public. Between the sheets of popular magazines, editors offered belles-lettres to the masses and, in particular, middle-class women. Magazines became a place to find culture, humor, and intellectual affirmation alongside haute couture. Eldred mines a variety of literary archives, notably the correspondence of Katharine Sargeant White of the New Yorker, to provide an insider’s view of the publisher-editor-author dynamic. Here, among White’s letters, memos, and markups, we see the deliberate shaping of literature to create a New Yorker ethos. Through her discrete phrasing, authors are coaxed by White to correct or wholly revise their work. Stories or poems by famous writers are rejected for being “dizzying” or “too literate.” With a surgeon’s skill, “disturbing” issues such as sexuality and race are extracted from manuscripts. Eldred chronicles the work of women (and a few men) editors at the major women’s magazines of the day. Ladies’ Home Journal, Mademoiselle, Vogue, and others enacted an editorial style similar to that of the New Yorker by offering literature, values, and culture to an educated and aspiring middle class. Publishers effectively convinced readers that middlebrow stories (and by association their audience) had much loftier pursuits. And they were right. These publications created and sustained a mass literacy never before seen in American publishing.

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Local Histories

Reading the Archives of Composition

Edited by Patricia Donahue and Gretchen Flesher Moon

In Local Histories, the contributors seek to challenge the widely held belief that the origin of American composition as a distinguishable discipline can be traced to a small number of elite colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Michigan in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Through extensive archival research at liberal arts colleges, normal schools, historically black colleges, and junior colleges, the contributors ascertain that many of these practices were actually in use prior to this time and were not the sole province of elite universities. Though not discounting the elites' influence, the findings conclude that composition developed in many locales concurrently. Individual chapters reflect on student responses to curricula, the influence of particular instructors or pedagogies in the context of compositional history, and the difficulties inherent in archival research. What emerges is an original and significant study of the developmental diversity within the discipline of composition that opens the door to further examination of local histories as guideposts to the origins of composition studies.

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Local Knowledges, Local Practices

Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell

Edited by Jonathan Monroe

Cornell University has stood at the forefront of writing instruction, at least since the publication of William Strunk and E. B. White’s classic, The Elements of Style, in 1918. For the past thirty years Cornell has been the site of a remarkably sustained and successful interdisciplinary approach to writing across the curriculum - a program that now coordinates nearly two hundred courses each semester sponsored by over thirty different departments. Local Knowledges, Local Practices provides an overview of Cornell’s rich history and distinguished achievements in training students to write well. Including the views of professors representing a variety of disciplines - from animal science to political science, anthropology to philosophy, romance studies to neurobiology - this collection will serve as a resource for anyone interested in broadly conceived, discipline-specific writing instruction.

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Managing Literacy, Mothering America

Women's Narratives on Reading and Writing in the Nineteenth Century

by Sarah Robbins

Managing Literacy, Mothering America accomplishes two monumental tasks. It identifies and defines a previously unstudied genre, the domestic literacy narrative, and provides a pioneering cultural history of this genre from the early days of the United States through the turn of the twentieth century. Domestic literacy narratives often feature scenes that depict women—mostly middle-class mothers—teaching those in their care to read, write, and discuss literature, with the goal of promoting civic participation. These narratives characterize literature as a source of shared knowledge and social improvement. Authors of these works, which were circulated in a broad range of publication venues, imagined their readers as contributing to the ongoing formation of an idealized American community. At the center of the genre's history are authors such as Lydia Sigourney, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and Frances Harper, who viewed their writing as a form of teaching for the public good. But in her wide-ranging and interdisciplinary investigation, Robbins demonstrates that a long line of women writers created domestic literacy narratives, which proved to be highly responsive to shifts in educational agendas and political issues throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.

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