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What the F@#$

December 30, 2009

The following was posted to Inside Higher Ed’s piece on What Direction for Rhet-Comp?

It is not about agency (unless we are talking about adjuncts) nor it is about justifying a comp and rhet classroom with arcane literary theory.  It is, or should be, about teaching writing and how to read (the composition and rhetoric aspect that seems to be lost in the whole “presentation” here).

It is funny that the MLA (with its very codified notions of Order, Duty and Tradition) would discuss the role of Comp & Rhet…but then again, by relegating the discussion to how best introduce Freshmen to writing, literature, etc. already tips their bias.  C&R exist, for many departments, to maintain relevancy of the English department in the broader campus.  C&R allows an English department bigger budgets, slots for graduate TA’s and an excuse to keep overflow adjuncts tethered (kind of a carrot/stick thing for graduate students and future prof want-to-be’s).

But I digress.  C&R are the untouchables of the humanities, while at the same time being the selling point to the business college (the English department will teach ALL of the majors how to write/think/succeed…) and all of the other “hard” sciences.  It comes off as though the admin sells its artists out as weekend house-painters just to make the rent, all the while keeping them from the view of polite folk.

Again I digress.  I’m pissed.  Proposition: assemble all of the chairs and deans of English into one room and don’t allow them to leave until they work out what the top five skills the department should instill in every student.  When writing and clear communication comes out among the top two, then put the budget where the priorities are–hire the C&R instructors onto the tenure track or, god forbid, make the lit folks teach writing (after they themselves bone up on the writing scholarship).

When this happens, wake me up.  Until then, I will, in the status quo, fume.

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