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14 A n i m at e d b y t h e E n t r e p r e n e u r i a l S p i r i t DOI: 10.7330/9781607324454.c014 Austerity, Dispossession, and Composition’s Last Living Act Tony Scott It is all very well (and sometimes insightful) to delineate the horrors of “the split self”—the human subject that projects unpalatable aspects of its self onto despised others. But it is something else again to analyze the horrors of a split society. Yet it is precisely here that crucial aspects of modern horror originate, in the painful and traumatic processes through which non-capitalistic social bonds are dissolved, individuals subjected to market forces, and impersonal relationships created between the dominated and the dominant. David McNally (2009, 12) If you work in higher education and you aren’t sure what entrepreneurialism is, there is good reason to spend some time figuring it out. Over the past twenty years and with increasing momentum, higher education has seen a blossoming of academic programs in entrepreneurialism , and it is now not only commonplace for faculty to be encouraged to be entrepreneurial at our institutions but also within the academic discourse and sites of practice of composition. Entrepreneurial rhetoric has become such a common means of framing challenges, goals, and new initiatives that the ideological assumptions from which it derives can be all but invisible. It is now the default idiom of higher education. As I drafted this chapter, the chancellor at my institution published an open letter as part of a series published at the university website that draws many of its elements from the topos of entrepreneurial rhetoric: alignment with a reform initiative or brand; an emphasis on innovation, risk-taking, and adaptability; an appeal to a vaguely defined but seemingly united public; and a presumption of a need for urgency. About “Fast-Forward Syracuse” (a brand with urgency), the chancellor writes: 206   Tony Scott “[I believe that] to get better, we need to take risks, we need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that animates so many parts of this campus and we need to move nimbly. In that spirit, given the opportunities and challenges before us, I believe we must get started soon, and be nimble and agile every step of the way” (Syverud 2014). The letter does not acknowledge differences in status, authority, opinion, and commitments among the public it addressees as the “Orange Friends.” It does, however , differentiate those who have been “animated” by an “entrepreneurial spirit” and those who haven’t but need to be—a public of animated and not-yet-animated parts. So this call to entrepreneurialism might be read as a call to transformation with a presumed, urgent need for nimble action, but the action seems valuable for its own sake, with no explicitly articulated origins or aims. As I drafted this chapter, I also received the call for papers for the 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). That call, by conference chair Joyce Locke Carter, draws from the same entrepreneurial topos as the “Dear Orange Friends” letter. The conference theme, “Risk and Reward,” similarly presumes an undefined urgency as it promotes entrepreneurialism, innovation, and risk-taking and as it appeals to a broad “we”: “We celebrate our innovative teachers, innovative programs, innovative research, and innovative writing” (Carter 2014). However, with celebration also comes reproach and the suggestion of lassitude: “it’s easy to forget that innovation is a product of risktaking with no guarantee of reward and the very real possibility of failure ” (Carter). The call moves from celebrating a single “us” to creating a dividing line between the entrepreneur and its others, who are invited or chided to “reimagine the concept of ‘risk’ not as something to be mitigated or feared, but rather as something to be sought out.” As with the chancellor’s letter, the dividing line within the “we” seems to center on innovation and risk-taking as stand alone values that are divorced from histories, agendas, and ideologies. Carter exhorts: “At a time when our organization and our membership has demanded more engagement with our governments, the press, and our broader society, we need to risk getting out of our own comfort zones.” But who is “demanding” engagement, and toward what ends? What is different about this conference call to action and past calls? A review of conference themes since CCCC began to have specific themes (1971) reveals that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781607324454
Related ISBN
9781607324447
MARC Record
OCLC
944187373
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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