A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm Back

I bet you thought my hiatus would turn into a permanent shutdown of the blog, right? I admit I'm coming back later than I said, but summer is always like that: you always think there's going to be more time than there is. Anyway, there's a brief lull in chapter submissions for the edited collection, so I thought now would be a good time to dive back in.

Actually, I've been blogging quite a bit, but it's all been over at Grape and Grain. In exchange for posting my notes from the Thursday night tastings at Stimmel's (the wine/beer/bakery/grocery store by my house), I get to taste some of the most amazing wines in the world--wines like Chateau Haut Brion, Ridge Monte Bello, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, and Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, to name a few. The only problem with the setup, in fact, is that tasting wines like these on a regular basis makes it harder to get excited about those good-but-simple $12.99 Aussie fruit bombs that I can actually afford to--and often do--buy. But I'm not complaining.

But I digress. Not only is this blog not defunct, it is actually very, very funct. I'll try to post weekly, or at least a couple times a month. I'm not sure yet whether I'll cross-post my tasting notes. (If I were to, this blog would, by virtue of their frequency, become primarily a wine blog, but maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing.)

For now, though, here's something comp-related I've been thinking about. In my Intro to Composition Studies seminar for new comp/rhet PhD students, I have in the past earmarked a week's worth of readings for looking at the "New Abolitionist" debate. The debate proper hasn't seen much action since the early 2000s, and its high-water mark came in the mid-to-late 1990's (one might point to the 1998 publication of Crowley's Composition in the University as signifying that moment). But one of the most powerful reasons for wanting to abolish the universal fyc requirement--the notion that "general writing skill" is a myth, that writing is so embedded in particular systems of activity that it cannot be usefully abstracted--is still very much in play. (Not to mention the idea that "literacy" itself is not a very useful concept, which, if you find it convincing, has grave implications for the teaching of writing.) So much so, in fact, that I feel certain that the lack of overt debate in our most visible forums about the desirability of the universal fyc requirement only signals the debate's dormancy, not its extinction.

Still, I want to introduce my students to today's discipline (not that that doesn't, obviously, involve some history), and we do have a close look at socio-historic theories of writing that posit it as concrete and particular rather than abstract and generalizable. I wonder whether we might not spend our time better by looking more deeply at, say, embodied rhetorics, or network studies' growing impact on writing studies research (both of which get playing time, but not enough for them to really break a sweat).

Any thoughts?

Nice to be back.

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At 11:14 PM, Blogger k8 said...

Welcome back!

As for the class - there are so many ways to approach this I'm not sure where to start. What is your overall feeling about the course? Maybe that isn't the way to ask the question. How about this: what are you already planning to do in the course? What is the framework/primary readings thus far/etc? Just trying to get a feel for what else is going on in the course.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Lance said...

Thanks for your input, k8.

I approach the class as a survey designed to introduce new PhD students to key theories, concepts, pedagogies, and critical conversations. The nature of the class precludes our treating any subject in too much depth, but I don't think I do either area justice by putting "digital writing technologies" together with "networked writing" in the same week. Each warrants its own class, so I think I ought to be able to allot each its own week in my introduction to the field. Here's a quick look at the syllabus (each block is one week):

Foundational Texts

Defining the Field, Part I: Post-Process Pedagogy

Defining the Field, Part II: Surveying the Disciplinary Landscape

Defining the Field, Part III: Writing Studies and Activity Theory

Critical Conversations: The “New Abolitionism”

Critical Conversations: The “New Theory Wars”

Critical Conversations: The Ethical Turn and Its Critics

Feminist Composition

Race, Rhetoric, and Composition

Basic Writing

Writing Assessment

Material Rhetorics: Bodies, Places, and Spaces

Digital Writing Technologies and Networked Writing


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