College compositionists' identity, authority, and ethos: What composition studies can still learn from the "Battle of Texas"

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/284328
Title:
College compositionists' identity, authority, and ethos: What composition studies can still learn from the "Battle of Texas"
Author:
Holmes, Devon Christina
Issue Date:
2004
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 1990, Linda Brodkey designed "Writing about Difference," a sophisticated first-year composition course at the University of Texas at Austin, where she served as director of lower-division English. The topic of the course was difference, and several of Brodkey's colleagues, inside and outside the English department, publicly criticized the course. Before long the local press and national publications, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, had picked up the story. The controversy was a defining moment for composition studies, characterized by a collision of competing discourses regarding the identity, authority, and ethos of composition studies and compositionists. This dissertation locates the controversy at the moment in the field's history when composition studies had achieved the status of a serious discipline, yet was increasingly vulnerable to media attacks. In analyzing the discourses associated with the controversy, this study argues that a pragmatic perspective might have empowered Brodkey to alter the dynamics of her situation. Moreover, it establishes that the discourses of the Writing about Difference moment resonate with the discourses circulating in composition studies today, suggesting that today's compositionists might similarly engage a pragmatic approach in order to create compromise and change when faced with seemingly irreconcilable discourses about their role and the nature of their work. Chapter I grounds the controversy historically by discussing the intellectual and cultural trends that led up to the Writing about Difference moment. Chapter II introduces pragmatism as an approach that can help composition studies to alleviate some of its problems with identity, authority, and ethos. Chapter III presents a narrative of the controversy, a description of Brodkey's syllabus, and an analysis of the ideological assumptions underpinning the discourse of her critics. Chapter IV examines Brodkey's response to the assault on her identity, authority, and ethos and explores how a response grounded in pragmatism might have altered the dynamics of the situation to produce more favorable outcomes. Chapter V explores how pragmatism can empower teachers of first-year composition to become activist intellectuals who honor their own desires for innovation while simultaneously honoring the expectations of the "others" who constitute their local contexts.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Language, Rhetoric and Composition.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; English
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Mountford, Roxanne D.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleCollege compositionists' identity, authority, and ethos: What composition studies can still learn from the "Battle of Texas"en_US
dc.creatorHolmes, Devon Christinaen_US
dc.contributor.authorHolmes, Devon Christinaen_US
dc.date.issued2004en_US
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 1990, Linda Brodkey designed "Writing about Difference," a sophisticated first-year composition course at the University of Texas at Austin, where she served as director of lower-division English. The topic of the course was difference, and several of Brodkey's colleagues, inside and outside the English department, publicly criticized the course. Before long the local press and national publications, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, had picked up the story. The controversy was a defining moment for composition studies, characterized by a collision of competing discourses regarding the identity, authority, and ethos of composition studies and compositionists. This dissertation locates the controversy at the moment in the field's history when composition studies had achieved the status of a serious discipline, yet was increasingly vulnerable to media attacks. In analyzing the discourses associated with the controversy, this study argues that a pragmatic perspective might have empowered Brodkey to alter the dynamics of her situation. Moreover, it establishes that the discourses of the Writing about Difference moment resonate with the discourses circulating in composition studies today, suggesting that today's compositionists might similarly engage a pragmatic approach in order to create compromise and change when faced with seemingly irreconcilable discourses about their role and the nature of their work. Chapter I grounds the controversy historically by discussing the intellectual and cultural trends that led up to the Writing about Difference moment. Chapter II introduces pragmatism as an approach that can help composition studies to alleviate some of its problems with identity, authority, and ethos. Chapter III presents a narrative of the controversy, a description of Brodkey's syllabus, and an analysis of the ideological assumptions underpinning the discourse of her critics. Chapter IV examines Brodkey's response to the assault on her identity, authority, and ethos and explores how a response grounded in pragmatism might have altered the dynamics of the situation to produce more favorable outcomes. Chapter V explores how pragmatism can empower teachers of first-year composition to become activist intellectuals who honor their own desires for innovation while simultaneously honoring the expectations of the "others" who constitute their local contexts.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectLanguage, Rhetoric and Composition.en_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.advisorMountford, Roxanne D.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest3158105en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b48128508en_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.