Dangerous Writing: Understanding the Political Economy of Composition
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Since the 1980s and the “social turn” in composition studies and other disciplines, scholars in this field have conceived writing in college as explicitly embedded in socio-rhetorical situations beyond the classroom. From this conviction develops a commitment to teach writing with an emphasis on analyzing the social and political dimensions of rhetoric.
Ironically, though a leftist himself, Tony Scott’s analysis finds the academic left complicit with the forces in American culture that tend, in his view, to compromise education. By focusing on the structures of labor and of institutions that enforce those structures, Scott finds teachers and administrators are too easily swept along with the inertia of a hyper-commodified society in which students---especially working class students---are often positioned as commodities, themselves. Dangerous Writing, then, is a critique of the field as much as it is a critique of capitalism. Ultimately, Scott’s eye is on the institution and its structures, and it is these that he finds most in need of transformation.
materials because they were explicitly mentioned (or relevant to discussions) in interviews. I used these documents to verify or complicate statements. For example, when a participant told me that she used the exact assignment sequence offered by her textbook, I was not only able to see this in her syllabus, I was also able to see that she followed the chapters of the textbook in their original sequence as well. Another participant indicated that she didn’t feel compelled to cover the textbook in
articulation of free market liberalism persisted as an ideal is that Smith so beautifully joined a political ideology with a material economy—creating a tantalizing vision of people working together in organized, efficient systems that best realize productive and creative potentials, rather than exploiting them. Smith’s political economic system elegantly brought Enlightenment individualism and industrial capitalism under one umbrella, marrying a philosophy of personhood, freedom, and governance
analysis of a particular situation, and responses calculated to produce more explicitly identified goals. Genuine strategic intention therefore means that an agent is not only negotiating her identity in dialectic with her surroundings, she is to a certain degree aware that she is doing so and making choices and acting accordingly. It therefore connotes a degree of control and agency. So Bourdieu’s conception of the social recognizes people’s agency, but it also shows how possibilities—for
by deeply embedded cultural perceptions of what a university should be, consistent with the market-driven logics of fast-capitalism, it is consciously constructed with branding and marketing in mind. Building facades, walkways, natural areas, and student activity centers anticipate the expectations of students and parents of college life. More typical than not, however, my university is not a protected world separate from “the real world” of work and adulthood. Here, students and faculty are very
that sounded at times as though it was written by the ideal employee envisioned in a training manual. In between she asked very good questions, and did research that led her to some troubling revelations. But then she ended her last essay with a paragraph that reinforces the myth of success through hard work and education. I believe my task as a teacher is to keep the endings open, to keep the focus on the complications and contradictions. As Robillard puts it: As a writing teacher, I’ve learned