In “WPA as Rhetor,” Debra Dew describes a “writing program as a work product” (W41). The essay argues that WPA work should be considered “applied rhetorical work” in organizational position statements so that it might also be counted toward tenure and promotion. She provides a useful overview of WPA models aimed at change, advocacy, and rhetorical action. Reminds me of some of the material I need to revisit for my essay on wpa work. The overall piece plugs her work as wpa into Carnegie categories, illustrating how one might frame applied rhetorical activity as real, honest-to-goodness scholarship. ‘Bout time!
At this point, just want to say that there’s way too much good stuff in the issue to report on here. One shout-out to Christie Launius (one of my former grad school classmates) for her piece, “Brains versus Brawn.” Launius examines literacy narratives by Mike Rose, Victor Villanueva, Keith Gilyard, and Richard Rodriguez and finds that working-class masculinity is a significant aspect of their literacy experiences. She also notes that masculinity–and its attendant ideologies–is unremarked upon by all of the authors and thus operates as a kind of normative identity marker. I like this piece a lot because L puts her finger on an aspect of these books that I’ve noticed but haven’t really thought through. I find it difficult to read Rose’s narrative in particular because it’s so embedded in masculinist rhetoric (without much reflective self-consciousness about that).
In “‘Writing in Electronic Environments,'” Dyehouse et al. discuss a course they created for their writing and rhetoric major at the University of Rhode Island. The course focuses on “the material situations of digital literacy” (W332), helping students to understand the relationship between “environment” and composing. Here’s what they say: “Teaching writing in electronic environments, for our purposes, means helping our students to reflect on digital writing by starting with the spaces within which it occurs. Teaching writing in electronic environments also means encouraging our students to conceive of better spaces for the kinds of digital writing that they might eventually want to practice” (W332-33). The authors acknowledge and review some relevant work related to their efforts, including place-based concepts like “architecture” and “ecology” to describe writing environments.
They describe several assignments aimed at helping students to accomplish functional, critical, and rhetorical tasks. This gives me a useful organizational model for thinking about the digital composing class (Selber’s book on multiliteracies will give me more, I’m sure).
Another interesting essay in this issue: “When the Tenets of Composition go Public: A Study of Writing in Wikipedia” by James Purdy. He uses wikipedia as a public site through which to study revision, authorship, research, and collaboration processes. Purdy is interested in “public knowledge making” and defines this as “the
growth, development, and evolution of ideas through dialogic interchange in publicly accessible forums” (W352). This is a fascinating study that vividly illustrates how key concepts (like revision, or even knowledge) in composition take on new meanings in the context of public, collaborative composing environments.
This is getting long…still several more articles to go, so I’ll talk about them in the next post. Bored yet?