Composition in the Twenty-First Century: Crisis and Change

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The essays in this book, stemming from a national conference of the same name, focus on the single subject required of nearly all college students—composition.

Despite its pervasiveness and its significance, composition has an unstable status within the curriculum. Writing programs and writing faculty are besieged by academic, political, and financial concerns that have not been well understood or addressed.

At many institutions, composition functions paradoxically as both the gateway to academic success and as the gatekeeper, reducing access to academic work and opportunity for those with limited facility in English. Although writing programs are expected to provide services that range from instruction in correct grammar to assisting—or resisting—political correctness, expanding programs and shrinking faculty get caught in the crossfire. The bottom line becomes the firing line as forces outside the classroom determine funding and seek to define what composition should do.

In search of that definition, the contributors ask and answer a series of specific and salient questions: What implications—intellectual, political, and institutional—will forces outside the classroom have on the quality and delivery of composition in the twenty-first century? How will faculty and administrators identify and address these issues? What policies and practices ought we propose for the century to come?

This book features sixteen position papers by distinguished scholars and researchers in composition and rhetoric; most of the papers are followed by invited responses by other notable compositionists. In all, twenty-five contributors approach composition from a wide variety of contemporary perspectives: rhetorical, historical, social, cultural, political, intellectual, economic, structural, administrative, and developmental. They propose solutions applicable to pedagogy, research, graduate training of composition teachers, academic administration, and public and social policy. In a very real sense, then, this is the only book to offer a map to the future of composition.

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Editorial Reviews

Essays from the October 1993 title conference, held at Miami U., Miami, Florida, plus responses, examine issues and trends in teaching college composition and the role of composition in writing programs and in the academic system. Topics include the continuing debate on abolishing composition requirements; the need for a theory of writing assessment; the politics of professionalization; and English studies, work, and politics in the new economy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809321285
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Z. Bloom is a professor of English and the Aetna Chair of Writing at the University of Connecticut.

Donald A. Daiker is a professor of English at Miami University.

Edward M. White is a professor of English at California State University, San Bernardino

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Table of Contents

Editors' Preface
Introduction: The New Geography of Composition 1
1 What Is Composition and (if you know what that is) Why Do We Teach It? 11
2 Order out of Chaos: Voices from the Community College 29
3 Inventing the University Student
Response by Kurt Spellmeyer 39
4 The Abolition Debate in Composition: A Short History 47
5 Around 1971: Current-Traditional Rhetoric and Process Models of Composing 64
6 Prim Irony: Suzuki Method Composition in the 21st Century
Response by C. Jan Swearingen 75
7 Writing Assessment in the 21st Century: A Utopian View 83
8 Writing Assessment Beyond the Classroom: Will Writing Teachers Play a Role? 101
9 The Need for a Theory of Writing Assessment
Response by Brian Huot 112
10 The Long Revolution in Composition 119
11 Writing Instruction and the Politics of Professionalization 133
19 Seeking a Disciplinary Reformation
Response by Charles I. Schuster 146
13 Disciplining Students: Whom Should Composition Teach and What Should They Know? 153
14 National Standards and College Composition: Are They Kissing Cousins or Natural Siblings? 166
15 Enlarging the Community
Response by Erika Lindemann 177
16 Moving Writing Research into the 21st Century 183
17 The Death of Paradigm Hope, the End of Paradigm Guilt, and the Future of (Research in) Composition 194
18 Research, Teaching, and Public Policy
Response by Sandra Stotsky 208
19 English Studies, Work, and Politics in the New Economy 215
20 Work, Class, and Categories: Dilemmas of Identity 226
21 Imagining the Future: Composition in a New Economic and Social Context
Response by Carol Petersen Hartzog 243
22 Literate Action 249
23 Intellectual Property in an Age of Information: What Is at Stake for Composition Studies? 261
Conclusion: Mapping Composition's New Geography 273
Works Cited 281
Contributors 297
Index 301
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