Daily Notes on Literature, Pop Culture & Media, and Academia

Posts Tagged ‘Minding the Campus’


Posted by litdaily on May 2, 2011

Mary Grabar’s essay in Minding the Campus, “Writing Teachers: Still Crazy After All These Years,” elicited a particularly unpleasant response in me…>>  Her essay reflects on the Conference on College Composition and Communication, which she recently attended.

Reading her essay reminded me of all the English instructors who uncritically teach composition at universities without advocating critical thinking skills within their students. Also, the fact that she seems offended by critiques of whiteness in composition and rhetoric also undermines her overall argument regarding grammar as she is furthering her own agenda regarding what should and should not be taught in composition.

I suppose there are two camps, which I am going to denote as Grammar and Context.  Grabar (along with Stanley Fish) falls on the Grammar side.  In these two camps, there is a war between Grammar and Context where each believes the other is a necessary evil that needs to be destroyed. I know this sounds harsh but most of these kinds of conversations tend to pick one over the other. It’s a shame.

I propose a necessary mediation between the two: Grammar with Context.  Why not teach both and isn’t teaching both the reality of most composition programs?  Can rules of grammar only be taught in conjunction with canonical English texts? Can’t they be applied to other contexts? Should we force all English instructors to be drones of the “proper” English language and teach only “proper” English texts that are approved by academe?

The comments (especially by parents who don’t have clue and want their kids to follow suit) are hilarious. If parents want their kids to learn Shakespeare rather than composition, why don’t they force their kids to take a Shakespeare class?   If parents think that only composition instructors are responsible for the downward spiraling education in this country, they need to educate themselves before casting stones.


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The New Doctoral Rankings

Posted by litdaily on September 30, 2010

The National Research Council has issued its doctoral program rankings, which carry an incredible amount of weight and authority in the lives of prospective and current graduate students.  The rankings can be checked on the Chronicle of Higher Education website…>>

One reviewer of the results, Mark Bauerlein, asserts that there are two problems or “dubious measures of the quality of research” with the rankings: Diversity of the academic environment and faculty output (measuring quantity instead of quality)…more>>

On both counts, Bauerlein seems to be right on the mark.  It’s important to know how diverse departments are, especially if you don’t belong to the dominant group. The rankings, however, only take into account underrepresented, non-Asian groups and females.  This is highly problematic in the humanities where Asians, male and female, are often far and few in-between and lack majority or minority representation. Faculty output, similarly, should be measured differently across departments. In social sciences, the production of work is much different than fields like English where research is drawn from many other fields.

Posted in State of Academia | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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