Pedagogy 1.3 (2001) 445-447
[Access article in PDF]
Jennifer L. Holberg and Marcy Taylor
colleague, v. [ad. OF. colliguer, colleguer, to join in alliance, unite, ad. L. colliga¯re to bind together] 1. to join in alliance, to ally, unite, associate. 2. to enter into a league or alliance; to unite; to cooperate for a common end; also in a bad sense, to conspire, cabal.
We wonder if this definition of colleague, adapted from the Oxford English Dictionary, is as striking to you as it was to us. After all, when we think of that word, we tend to think of people (or qualities) that exemplify an ideal of the profession--or its unfortunate opposite. For instance, we invoke collegiality during the difficult process of hiring; we attempt to determine, from the slim data of a dossier and a pointed reading of a candidate's interview, whether "to enter into . . . alliance" with that person--whether his or her character and qualities of mind promise cooperation in what the department collectively deems its "common end[s]." Is the candidate like us? Will he or she be an ally? Thus, though we tend to think of colleague as a reference to something we are rather than something we do, the definition above focuses on action and suggests to us the work involved in coming together. It also suggests, of course, the possibility of conspiracy, of infighting and turf wars. All too familiar are the tales of disciplinary factionalism--of composition programs seceding from English departments or of departmental discussions of some curricular proposal that resemble not Burke's welcoming parlor or a democratic agora but an episode of the Jerry Springer Show, complete with metaphorical fistfights and thrown furniture. [End Page 445]
To be sure, many of us have enriching discussions and productive alliances with others in our institutions and with colleagues in our subdisciplines. Even this collegial space has been limited, however, by the geographies of specialty and rank. The problem is not that we do not talk but that our conversations--in staffrooms, in journals, at conferences--take place in a bounded sphere. How, then, can we act beyond the limits imposed by our disciplinary walls?
This question has been central to our development of volume 1. In these first three issues we have tried to articulate Pedagogy's commitment to breaking down barriers. In issue 1 we focused on construction: the importance of creating a site on which to build a sustained scholarship of teaching in English studies. In issue 2 we sought to extend the conversation by representing a range of voices who use this new site as a place of exchange to begin a dialogue around specific disciplinary questions, often from a generational perspective. For issue 3 we have chosen the metaphor of colleaguing, extending the conversation into a realm of common action: teaching. These articles are in some ways explicitly about commonality, about how our individual pedagogies can benefit from perspectives ostensibly separated from ours by time, generation, or subdiscipline. This third issue also demonstrates that such boundaries are more permeable than the profession has thus far recognized.
Sue Lonoff's article "The Education of Charlotte Brontë: A Pedagogical Case Study" is the kind of exciting hybrid we would like to see more of in Pedagogy. Lonoff undertakes a historical reclamation of nineteenth-century female education, fusing literary and rhetorical history, as well as makes a fascinating argument for the reconsideration of certain pedagogies in teaching writing and literature. Her piece bridges presumed divides between literature and rhetoric or between "creative writing" and composition. It also asks us to imagine how our twenty-first-century pedagogies might reflect and reinterpret those from another time. Finally, her richly detailed "case study" offers a very particular, historically situated account of teaching.
The next two articles also provide the specificity of case study, but in them the authors draw on their own lives in the composition classroom. We invite you to read Susan Miller's "How I Teach Writing: How to Teach Writing? To Teach Writing?" and Joshua Fausty's "Framing Composition: A Graduate Instructor's Perspective" in tandem. In...