9. Threshold Concepts in Rhetoric and Composition Doctoral Education: The Delivered, Lived, and Experienced Curricula
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9 T h r e s h o l d C o nc e p t s i n R h e to r i c a n d C o m p o s i t i o n D o c to r a l E d ucat i o n DOI: 10.7330/9780874219906.c009 The Delivered, Lived, and Experienced Curricula Kara Taczak and Kathleen Blake Yancey What role do threshold concepts play in graduate school? In this chapter , we take up this question, beginning with what we see as one antecedent for threshold concepts, key terms, and in the process showing how threshold concepts build from key terms. We make this argument while also articulating the curriculum for doctoral study in rhetoric and composition in its three parts: the delivered curriculum, the lived curriculum , and the experienced curriculum. Given this context, we trace the ways faculty can use threshold concepts in doctoral curricula in writing studies through including them in curricula and through employing them collectively as an informal mechanism for review. Key Terms and Th resh old Concepts: A Quick Intro d uc ti on Historically, key terms have informed the field (if not defined it), but a claim like this can be difficult to support given the dynamic quality of key terms; they have changed over time. Erika Lindemann’s work on the bibliographic categories whose key terms have organized and constructed composition, for instance, reveals how even a central, defining key term like process isn’t stable. Lindemann (2002) notes that while the 1986 CCCC Bibliography included process in three of twelve categories (or 25%), that term completely disappeared in the 2001 MLA successor to the CCCC’s bibliography. Paul Heilker and Peter Vandenberg’s two edited collections on key terms tell the same story. Their first collection, Threshold Concepts in Rhetoric & Composition Doctoral Education   141 published in 1996, included fifty-four terms, ranging from academic discourse and audience to composing, critical thinking, self/subject, and writing center (Heilker and Vandenberg 1996). Now, nearly twenty years later, Heilker and Vandenberg (2015) have published a second edition, with a set of thirty-six key terms; only four are duplicates—ideology, literacy, multiculturalism, and research—and none of those is writing. Threshold concepts do more than key terms, of course. Key terms can demarcate a field and locate its historical origin: the key term of process, for instance, is often cited as a marker for the beginning of the field. But it does not make a claim about process; it has no predicate. Threshold concepts, in contrast, build claims from key terms. Thus, a term like processes may be important, but it does not make a claim; a threshold concept employing the concept of process—like people’s writing histories, experiences , processes, and stances vary, and they are not the same as yours—does, and it’s a claim that, as this volume suggests, provides a threshold into a specific field of study. Likewise, for over twenty years, we have thought of composition as having made the social turn, but threshold concept 1.0, Writing Is a Social and Rhetorical Activity makes a very different claim, one about compositionists’ view of writing as always and inherently social; the social turn, in this threshold concept version of it, is a very specific statement about the nature of writing. Still other claims, like All Writing is Multimodal (2.4), rely on newer key terms like multimodality—it’s worth noting the number of new jobs in the field in 2013 that ask for a specialty in multimodality (e.g., Westchester University; Oakland University)—but make claims not located in the past but in the present and future and in assumptions that are still contentious. In that sense, threshold concepts can speak both to consensus and to consensus-in-formation. In sum, the field itself is dynamic, which means any claims we would make about key terms and threshold concepts would be contingent. Similarly, key terms in any doctoral program are likewise contingent: Florida State University’s doctoral program in rhetoric and composition, here exemplifying a doctoral program in writing studies we both have participated in, is dynamic in the way the field is and at the same time dynamic in its own highly specific way. In addition, the dynamic quality of both individual programs and the larger field is animated by interactions across and among programs and between individual programs and the field. Moreover, because of the...



Subject Headings

  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching.
  • Creative writing -- Study and teaching.
  • Academic writing -- Study and teaching.
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