From Sputnik to the Spellings Commission: The Rhetoric of Higher Education Reform

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/228460
Title:
From Sputnik to the Spellings Commission: The Rhetoric of Higher Education Reform
Author:
Markwardt, Daylanne
Issue Date:
2012
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
In July 1946, Harry S. Truman formed the first-ever presidential commission on higher education. Since that time, reports by commissioned panels of experts calling for reforms to postsecondary education have proliferated. The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education provides yet the most recent high-profile example of how reformists may shift their sights--and their rhetorical strategies--from primary to postsecondary education. Yet, little examination has been made of how such reports harness the persuasive power of rhetoric to advance their agendas for reform. In From Sputnik to the Spellings Commission, Daylanne Markwardt bridges this gap by bringing tools of rhetorical criticism to bear on the contemporary rhetoric of higher education reform. Drawing upon rhetorical and linguistic theories, she demonstrates how two key metaphors--the first, framing higher education as a means of national defense, the second, likening it to a business or industry--have radically altered the way postsecondary education has been perceived and valued in the U.S. over the past 60 years. She also explores how a number of major ideological appeals have been used to legitimize actions and policies that have brought about sweeping changes to institutions of higher learning since the Cold War. Based upon Jürgen Habermas's theory of technological rationality, she argues that commission reports have instilled a measurement-oriented, bottom line-driven mindset, whereby the results of postsecondary learning have been reduced to those which are readily quantifiable and its worth calculated almost entirely in economic terms. As a codified response to a recurrent social situation, commission reports like those analyzed in this dissertation constitute a unique genre of reform rhetoric. Yet, they also effectively restrict women, persons of color, and other marginalized groups from the dialog surrounding higher education reform, thereby sustaining a hegemony of values asserted largely by representatives of dominant religious, political, and business interests. The author concludes that the conventions and limitations of this genre must be challenged, and the ideologies now associated with higher education rearticulated, if the humanities are to maintain their place within the evolving American university.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Higher Education; Humanities; Reform; Rhetoric; English; Commission; Genre
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; English
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Miller, Thomas P.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleFrom Sputnik to the Spellings Commission: The Rhetoric of Higher Education Reformen_US
dc.creatorMarkwardt, Daylanneen_US
dc.contributor.authorMarkwardt, Daylanneen_US
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn July 1946, Harry S. Truman formed the first-ever presidential commission on higher education. Since that time, reports by commissioned panels of experts calling for reforms to postsecondary education have proliferated. The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education provides yet the most recent high-profile example of how reformists may shift their sights--and their rhetorical strategies--from primary to postsecondary education. Yet, little examination has been made of how such reports harness the persuasive power of rhetoric to advance their agendas for reform. In From Sputnik to the Spellings Commission, Daylanne Markwardt bridges this gap by bringing tools of rhetorical criticism to bear on the contemporary rhetoric of higher education reform. Drawing upon rhetorical and linguistic theories, she demonstrates how two key metaphors--the first, framing higher education as a means of national defense, the second, likening it to a business or industry--have radically altered the way postsecondary education has been perceived and valued in the U.S. over the past 60 years. She also explores how a number of major ideological appeals have been used to legitimize actions and policies that have brought about sweeping changes to institutions of higher learning since the Cold War. Based upon Jürgen Habermas's theory of technological rationality, she argues that commission reports have instilled a measurement-oriented, bottom line-driven mindset, whereby the results of postsecondary learning have been reduced to those which are readily quantifiable and its worth calculated almost entirely in economic terms. As a codified response to a recurrent social situation, commission reports like those analyzed in this dissertation constitute a unique genre of reform rhetoric. Yet, they also effectively restrict women, persons of color, and other marginalized groups from the dialog surrounding higher education reform, thereby sustaining a hegemony of values asserted largely by representatives of dominant religious, political, and business interests. The author concludes that the conventions and limitations of this genre must be challenged, and the ideologies now associated with higher education rearticulated, if the humanities are to maintain their place within the evolving American university.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectHigher Educationen_US
dc.subjectHumanitiesen_US
dc.subjectReformen_US
dc.subjectRhetoricen_US
dc.subjectEnglishen_US
dc.subjectCommissionen_US
dc.subjectGenreen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorMiller, Thomas P.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHall, Anne-Marieen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberKimme-Hea, Amyen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMiller, Thomas P.en_US
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