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Conversion Narrative

Back to biographing.

I was thinking the other day about the choice I made to get into the Rhetoric/Composition game, and while it was undoubtedly a gradual and only semi-conscious process, I think I can pin down the semester that would feature in my Secret Origin.

My undergraduate degree was in literature, but with a strong and ongoing theoretical dimension to it, enough so that the "theory course" I took in my MA program at Miami (which was a university before Florida was a state, or so the t-shirts read) was mostly review for me. In the spring of my first year, though, which would have been 90-91, I took Edward Tomarken's Literary Theory course, along with Susan Jarratt's Social Theories of Reading and Writing. You'll be pleased to learn that not only do I still own the reader from that latter course, but I even have it handy. We read, among a decently sized set of books, articles/chapters by Bizzell, Faigley, Spivak, Raymond Williams, Foucault, Lunsford, Cixous, Vygotsky, Bakhtin, Althusser, Gramsci, Berlin, Schilb, Gates, Trimbur, Stuart Hall, Bruffee, Eagleton, et al. I shudder to look back at my marginal notes.

At any rate, as a theoretically minded young MA student, SJ's course convinced me that I could follow that interest in R/C just as easily as I could in literature, and while I don't know that this counts as "conversion," it's the one point I recall where I "chose" R/C.