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This is a call for help from all you rhetcompers out there. This fall, I'm going to be teaching our introductory course (CCR 601), which bills itself as an introduction to scholarship in composition and rhetoric. The course has been taught in a number of different ways--never the same way twice, in fact--and while I'll probably be drawing somewhat on past incarnations, I feel a little bit of extra pressure as the grad director to do the course in a way that accounts for some of my concerns about the preparation that our students receive.

That's not really a critique per se, because it's silly to imagine that a single course could address broad curricular questions, but at the least, I'm conscious about the opportunity to intervene a little more directly. And I should add that this course is an introduction to scholarship, which distinguishes it somewhat from our other core courses (methodology (which they'll be taking at the same time), 20th century rhetoric, and modern composition studies).

I'll be porting some of the readings from my summer course, as well as the mapping assignment I blogged about a couple of months ago. I'm also planning a couple of other 3-4 week-sized assignments (as opposed to a big semester-end one): we'll probably do some practical exercises on what John Swales calls "occluded genres" -- conference proposals, abstracts, etc. -- for one of them, and I may ask them (as a way of leading up to the mapping project) to do some kind of genre thingamajig where they take a topic and locate essays on the topic from several different journals, paying specific attention to differences in style, research, scope, audience, etc.

So far, I'm a little shorter than I intended to be at this point in the readings department. I'm thinking strongly about Olson's Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work, for instance, but haven't gotten much further than that. I would have liked to get copies of Culture Shock, but I'm not sure it'll be available.

And so, I'm looking for suggestions. The students will come from a fair range of background, and they'll be getting training/mentoring both in pedagogy and methodology elsewhere. What kinds of texts would you suggest for someone relatively new to the field, specifically aimed at preparing that person to join the field as a scholar, researcher, & writer?

What do you say?

Update: Here's the somewhat minimalist catalog description:

CCR 601 Introduction to Scholarship in Composition and Rhetoric Contemporary theories and practices of scholarship. Methodological debates and controversies. Connections between composition and rhetoric.


How far back do you want to go? Might Fulkerson's article help? Also, I'm not exactly clear on what you mean by "scholarship." You say you're not talking about methods and methodology, and you're also not talking about pedagogy. I was going to ask if you were considering Patricia A. Sullivan and Gesa E. Kirsch, Methods and Methodology in Composition Research, but that would be more appropriate (obviously) for a methods course.

We have an introduction to scholarship (in technical communication) course here, and it consisted of reading landmark books and articles, discussing the formation and history of the discipline, the questions and problems at the heart of it, etc. It sounds like, based on your focus on academic genres, you want to focus heavily on professionalization, which is great, but perhaps I'm not understanding your objectives correctly.

I've never taught such a course myself, but I've always thought one potentially useful approach would be to look at the current issues of a broad range of journals: CCC, JAC,Composition Studies, Rhetoric Review, RSQ, Rhetoric and Philosophy, C and C, etc, etc.

Which is more or less what you're already planning to do with the mapping/genre thingamajig. Sometimes close reading pays off.

I agree with Donna. Familiarity with the journals is one good place to work.
I teach the Tate book...which might overlap w/the Methods course you noted. Not a perfect book, but it does offer a pedagogical perspective - though it sounds like you are not as interested in that.
What do you want the intro to be an intro into?
1. The Field? Then survey of journals sounds idea. Could be done on the blog or collaborative blog space - not just a review of a journal but more or less exploration (with overlapping explorations) of articles published in last few years from the field's various journals, print and online.

Another side of this would be to also include market issues. Not so much the critique - but what awaits professionally. That may not require a reading but rather work on types of programs, where folks place, what one does to prepare (publishing/conferences) etc.

2. What is Composition? Olson's collection is good here. If you want to throw in the technology component it gets tricky b/c there really aren't enough good collections. Passions is the best of the bunch.

My tendency in this area is not coverage, but rather sampling. So if it was me, I migh "sample" a few greatest hits: Sirc's English Composition, Berlin's Rhetorics, Poetics, Macrorie's Uptaught. The idea to get a feel for some of the positions in circulation. Or I might throw in "intro" essays from Elbow, Brodkey, Bartholomae, Yancey, each standing for different positions/moments.

3. History. Our version of this course - at least how we rethought it last year - would offer some history as well. Berlin's Rhetoric and Reality, one of Susan Miller's books, David Russell's Writing in the Academic Disciplines, John Brereton's Origins in Composition Studies, etc.
At least one - maybe two- would be helpful. I like the historical perspective.

I've left so much out in terms of possibility. But the comment section is small and comments are meant to be short (I'm going over the limit already).

Maybe this is an oldie, but it still seems like a very good intro to some of the theoretical issues: Lester Faigley's -Fragments-.

And Crowley's two books are super for the same reason: -Methodical Memory- and -Comp in the University-

Those books really helped me to understand the field.

I wasn't exactly sure what you were talking about before you posted the catalog description here, Collin. That helped me a bit....

Two quick suggestions:

* How about something about the whole "post-process" stuff? I'm thinking of that essay collection... I don't have my books here though, but I bet you know which one I mean. Oh, and it's an oldie but a goodie: Susan Miller's *Textual Carnivals* I think is still a relevant book. Maybe.

* In a completely different direction: I took a class like this, with almost the exact same course title, but it focused more on the practices of scholarship in the field. It was taught by Rick Gebhardt, who, at the time, had stepped down as the editor of the CCCs a year or two before. It was not at all theoretical, but the practical stuff helped me a lot. We read a fair amount about what exactly constitutes "scholarship" now, what is scholarship for really, etc. (okay, I guess that's sort of theory-- oh, and toward that end, I'd suggest the first chapter in Richard Lanham's book *The Electronic Word*, which is what I think is the title of that essay).

But we also spent a fair amount of time with some very practical "how tos:" what makes for a good conference proposal in the field, how and when do you write a query letter, where do you find calls, what are considered the "journals in the field," etc. Not sexy stuff, but really useful.

Are you folks as TechComm as we are? Because Johnson-Eilola and Selber's Central Works in Technical Communications (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195157052/qid=1122987748/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl14/103-1020341-0231869?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) is quite good for that.

At the places I've been, the "intro to comp/rhet" seminar changed every year, too. I've seen it taught as a semester-long dash through the Villanueva anthology (problematic because it did the sort of thing that Clancy described as the "shopping cart" approach, but what Jeff calls the "sampling" effect could be helpful) and as a sort of history of the field (putting together Tate/Rupiper/Schick's bibliographical collection with the histories from Crowley and Connors; seemed, contra Villanueva, to not offer *enough* samples). I very much agree re the value of Susan Miller and Lester Faigley (and would add that there was a lot I didn't understand about the field until I'd read Janet Emig and Mina Shaughnessy) -- but it's starting to sound like a difficulty might be having way too many readings. In which case, I think the brevity and high quality of Joe Harris's A Teaching Subject could be useful.

I think your mapping assignment is an excellent way to get people to concretize their own sense of the field, and I agree with Donna and Jeff on the need for familiarity with current journals; another useful assignment might be to require each person to choose a different journal and look through a number of recent issues and present a rhetorical/genre analysis of the journal itself to the seminar. (Whoever does PRE/TEXT will, of course, have the most fun.)

Thanks for all the comments so far...

I'm definitely more about "useful" than "sexy," at least for this course, since it's core. And as a result, I'm more inclined to think about it in terms of practices than any particular content. That helps a little with the challenge of a range of backgrounds--this summer, some of the maps were more exploratory than others, which worked nicely bc the assignment could be shaped to different purposes depending on where each student was at in their research.

And for what it's worth, one of the things that I want to work against is my perception that we (the field) take a current-traditional approach when it comes to teaching grad students to write in and for the field. That is, we expect them to read "great works" and to intuit how it is that they can do the same. Maybe I'm not as right about this as I fear I am, but I know that it took me longer than it should have to make the connection between the practices and habits I was teaching in FYC and the writing I was doing for grad school. I picked up on things eventually (we all do), but even simple stuff like sharing my writing with others for feedback, knowing the differences among the audiences of various journals, and being familiar with the various genres (occluded and explicit) of academic practice would have helped, I think.


I second Jenny's suggestion of Methodical Memory, which I love because it contextualizes rhetoric and composition in the larger tradition of western epistemology, and shows ways the two are (or are not) connected. It's also, like most of Crowley' stuff, a fun read.

vjv's "some rudiments of histories of rhetorics and rhetorics of histories" in poulakos's -rethinking the history of rhetoric- seems a good re-beginning.

also, as the don't get much play beyond sirc's work, i might also commend to an introductory course, a component that considers two exemplars from the amherst school: william e. coles's -teaching composing- and walker gibson -tough, sweet, and stuffy- .

my introduction to comp studies came by way of these latter figures --though i didn't know it until after i graduated from cmu and started to track down theory that informed the instructors there!-- but, then, that was a period of time in working w/ sharon crowley at asu, and she changed everything ...

oh: bruce horner has an essay somewhere in JAC that considers the confluences of bartholomae and coles. this work might be useful for an introduction to rhet/comp scholarship as it suggests ways students might write between figures that are commonly opposed to each other.

thus, a neat course pack unit might bring together
bartholomae(problem)-sirc(provocation)-coles (percursor)-horner(further problematization ...)

anyway ...

Funny -- Coles was emeritus at Pitt when I was there, so I always thought of him as a Pitt person, and given the Bartholomae/Elbow thing would never have thought to associate him with Walker Gibson. Kind of obtuse on my part, since I remember him citing Genung and Baird. But then, I was also rather startled to discover, years later, that I'd taken the undergrad writing course Linda Flower designed, and John Hayes was my intro to psych professor at CMU. I'll have to look for that Horner piece; finding connections where many see oppositions is always useful.

And I'd add that I think least some foundational stuff like Gibson, like Flower and Hayes, like Donald Murray, is really important, and often undervalued. That's what I was (inadequately) trying to say with my Shaughnessy and Emig references above (because some of those pieces so much underpin so many of our ongoing discussions) and what Geof helped me get a little more clear.

Glad that you found the Walker Gibson ref useful. Yes, he's underserved in the literature, and I think Varnum's work on the Amherst scene, -Fencing w/ Words-, does some to suggest WG difference, even w/ Coles, who, I think V suggests contributed to the "boot camp" dimension of those English 1-2 sequences. (As an interesting aside, look for the Varnum-Lauer exchange on the role of Amherst in yet another issue of JAC somewhere.)

Gibson's "Composing the World: The Writer as Map-Maker" -College Composition and Communication 21: 255-260 perhaps the most important work for one of his former students, John Dinan, over at the other CMU, Central Michigan University.

Those interested in *that* composition program would also be well served to consider the work of Robert L. Root, Jr.


You already have a lot of great suggestions, but i have to advocate for Geoffrey Sirc's _Eng Comp as a Happening_. His discussion/critique of other seminal (shorter) works (i.e. articles) in comp studies provides a good opportunity to read manageable pieces along side the Sirc. Of course Sirc's text wouldn't make up the entire course, but it would make for a great part.

I just finished course work and have read a lot (but not all) of the other stuff suggested in intro-type and other comp/rhet classes. B/c Sirc reviews where the field has been and situates his critique within current trends i felt like it was a great (re)introduction to comp studies....