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When did Comp Rhet become mainstream?


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So excuse my ignorance, but when did Comp Rhet become a mainstream academic path? Has it always been around? I always thought it was the English Department. The very terms seem so out of place in the 21st century of anthropology, psychology, and linguistics. Composition and Rhetoric seem so 19th century in the same way as Grammar and Dictionaries are.

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So excuse my ignorance, but when did Comp Rhet become a mainstream academic path? Has it always been around? I always thought it was the English Department. The very terms seem so out of place in the

Since this thread is no longer a productive conversation among several members, I'm gonna lock it. VirtualMessage and ComeBackZinc, feel free to continue your discussion over PM.  

It became mainstream when it invented a jargon and management structure for exploiting adjunct labor in shameful writing programs. 

I mean, I could answer, but this has troll thread written all over it. You don't have to like the field, but you shouldn't bother yourself with it if you don't. It's very easy to avoid.

 

And that claim-- the claim of obsolescence-- has been levied against the humanities writ large, and modern languages in particular, over and over. So, you know.

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Check it: http://www.macmillanhighered.com/Catalog/static/bsm/bb/history.html

 

Also, would we call rhet/comp mainstream? I mean, we did get a Gawker article for the Sparkleponies. But I'm not sure I'd use the word mainstream. There's a relative sense of pride in the field being somewhat counter-culture, which carries over in my opinion from its resurgence and continued sense of re/defining since the mid- to late sixties.

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It became mainstream when it invented a jargon and management structure for exploiting adjunct labor in shameful writing programs. 

 

Unlike literature, which is taught by nothing but tenured professors, and which is not currently producing thousands of PhDs that cannot possibly get jobs.

 

Oh, wait....

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It was an honest question, not a troll. I'm really afraid the internet is going to trivialize discourse. 

 

I don't understand what your second sentence has to do with your first. You think rhetoric and composition is trivializing discourse? Or you think this message  board is trivializing discourse?

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So excuse my ignorance, but when did Comp Rhet become a mainstream academic path? Has it always been around? I always thought it was the English Department. The very terms seem so out of place in the 21st century of anthropology, psychology, and linguistics. Composition and Rhetoric seem so 19th century in the same way as Grammar and Dictionaries are.

You probably didn't know that you were stumbling into a sometimes nasty debate in English circles. Disparaging Rhet/Comp is a favorite past-time of some literature folks (see VirtualMessage's response on this and other threads), so it can be kind of a touchy subject. Being a Spanish applicant, I am sure you didn't know this.

 

I would suggest you read the link Chadillac posted if you are interested in a short rundown of the history. I am not too familiar with it.

 

And yes, in some schools Rhet/Comp is housed within the English department. In some schools, though, it is it's own program. Rhet/Comp tends to focus more on writing and writing pedagogy, among other things. There are also people doing work in effective written communication for emergency responders, etc.

 

A Rhet/Comp person will teach beginning composition courses as well as business and technical writing, or professional writing, or the history of rhetoric, or they will run writing programs.

 

I don't think any of this has anything to do with the 19th century. But yes, dictionaries and grammar are important in the field.

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The lines we draw between each other are problematic and counterproductive. Rhet/comp is a melting pot. The field has (incorrectly) been seen as only professionalization, preparation for administrative work, without theoretical or methodological rigor, lesser-than other English studies, solely interested in the training of a class of composition instructors. Rhet/comp is an and/in addition field, not a but/we do not field. This is difficult for some to wrap their head around, which is understandable: We operate in a system that defines a field by what it is not, and that is tricky for rhet/comp. In practice, all work is welcome that in some way relates back to the college writing or student experience--but even this has been heavily contested in the past decade.

 

I've also had faculty in rhetoric teach courses in technology and culture, digital media production, global feminisms, methodology, materialisms, persuasion, and writing program pedagogy. I have also taught courses in disability studies and fiction. I have always been a rhet/comp person (at least since undergrad, that is).

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Part of what makes me sensitive to these endless fights is that this is precisely what we should not be doing, fighting against other people in the humanities or in English. We should instead find solidarity and argue for the legitimacy and importance of each other's work.

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Part of what makes me sensitive to these endless fights is that this is precisely what we should not be doing, fighting against other people in the humanities or in English. We should instead find solidarity and argue for the legitimacy and importance of each other's work.

Word. 

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Thanks ToldAgain for a rational response, although I do not consider myself an applicant, I am an accepted student into a top 30 PhD program with years of funding, which I think is a little different.  I didn't realize I was asking a forbidden question. If anyone would be interested in actually reading my question, they will see it was not disparaging, argumentative, or demeaning. It only reflected my perplexity. To be labelled a "troll" or "argumentative" is a bit uncalled for. I really had never heard about "Rhet/Comp" before. This reminds me a little bit of the "question" of whether it is "Spanish" or "Castellano" which, according to the DRAE, are interchangeable terms. But not to everyone!

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The lines we draw between each other are problematic and counterproductive. Rhet/comp is a melting pot. The field has (incorrectly) been seen as only professionalization, preparation for administrative work, without theoretical or methodological rigor, lesser-than other English studies

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do see a line drawn between Lit and R/C. I thought that was the point of having the two disciplines. We're both English, presumably, but different fields within English. I don't think that means there can't be cooperation and melting-pottedness between the two. Or solidarity. I am a lit person, but my favorite mentor in undergrad was a writing center director. I am doing my master's at school known for its amazing R/C program, and I am excited to learn from them. I hope to do work in both fields, but I can see why some would want to be just Lit people or just R/C people.

 

For what it's worth, I can't stand the fighting between the two fields, and I try to stay out of it, but I don't see any problem with representing them as different. Am I misrepresenting your position at all or missing something?

 

This reminds me a little bit of the "question" of whether it is "Spanish" or "Castellano"

My Spanish teachers in Argentina would freak if you called it Spanish. And yea, I am used to calling everybody, including myself, an applicant. I guess most of us aren't anymore. Whoop.

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Solidarity? Here's solidarity: Insist on tenure-track faculty positions within your field and make no excuses for the failure to do it. Writing programs are hotbeds for efforts to rationalize and minimize the consequences of contingent labor and, ultimately, poor student outcomes. Here is a thought: If you want to increase humanities enrollment, don't have a student's first taste of English be in a writing course where the instructor has no health insurance, no office, no hope of promotion, and no meaningful control over her curriculum and/or pedagogy. 

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Solidarity? Here's solidarity: Insist on tenure-track faculty positions within your field and make no excuses for the failure to do it. Writing programs are hotbeds for efforts to rationalize and minimize the consequences of contingent labor and, ultimately, poor student outcomes. Here is a thought: If you want to increase humanities enrollment, don't have a student's first taste of English be in a writing course where the instructor has no health insurance, no office, no hope of promotion, and no meaningful control over her curriculum and/or pedagogy. 

Is that the fault of WPAs and Rhet Comp programs, or the English Literature programs producing far too many PhDs they can't employ while reserving 2/2 tenure track lines for professors teaching six student seminars?  Those adjunct spots wouldn't be nearly as prevalent if departmental budgets (salary and support) reflected the actual enrollment in courses.

Mind you, R/C programs (and the associated TC programs) are producing scholars in what are realistically the only growing segment of either field, including professors who can teach business, professional and technical writing programs. Demand for those programs are supporting overpaid TT faculty in English at small colleges across the country.

 

 

I actually agree with VM that WPAs wind up overseeing staffs that are made up of too many underemployed instructors who barely make ends meet, though I'm not sure how that's the fault of composition scholars and not the fault of structural problems with the academy. In addition, a good WPA is one that is up to date on current scholarship in the field and makes sure that non-tenure faculty (either fixed term or adjunct), are trained in best practices, provided with opportunities for research, service, and improvement, and supported when they try to find new jobs. They should be (and usually, from my experience, are) advocates for their instructors.

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Solidarity? Here's solidarity: Insist on tenure-track faculty positions within your field and make no excuses for the failure to do it. Writing programs are hotbeds for efforts to rationalize and minimize the consequences of contingent labor and, ultimately, poor student outcomes. Here is a thought: If you want to increase humanities enrollment, don't have a student's first taste of English be in a writing course where the instructor has no health insurance, no office, no hope of promotion, and no meaningful control over her curriculum and/or pedagogy. 

 

Again, your selectivity in this regard is baffling: literature trains thousands of PhDs a year that it can't get hired. Literature is absolutely, utterly dependent on adjunct and graduate school labor. Literature is a small handful of tenured poohbahs who hate teaching and hate their students and just want to lock themselves in their office and write the thousandth book on reading Dickens through Lacan-- which is a very big reason why English has no political clout to oppose the situation you deride. RC is far, far from perfect. But the field has stayed small, on purpose, precisely so as not to produce tons of PhDs in the position that you're in. Literature profs are too proud to teach the introductory courses that keep the lights on in the university, so they need grad students to fill their seminars and they need grad students to actually teach college. Meanwhile, RC graduates 250 people a year, a majority of whom get tenure track jobs, precisely because we treat teaching undergraduates as honorable, important work. Which explains why we have more juice than you in the contemporary university.

 

The absolute, utterly bizarre aspect of your performance here is that everything that you complain about in RC is so much worse in literature. You're not really mad at us, are you? It's absolutely plain that you're just lashing out at people who have nothing to do with your unemployment and who have structured their programs in the way necessary to avoid the very situation that you complain about. Physician, heal yourself.

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Again, your selectivity in this regard is baffling: literature trains thousands of PhDs a year that it can't get hired. Literature is absolutely, utterly dependent on adjunct and graduate school labor. Literature is a small handful of tenured poohbahs who hate teaching and hate their students and just want to lock themselves in their office and write the thousandth book on reading Dickens through Lacan-- which is a very big reason why English has no political clout to oppose the situation you deride. RC is far, far from perfect. But the field has stayed small, on purpose, precisely so as not to produce tons of PhDs in the position that you're in. Literature profs are too proud to teach the introductory courses that keep the lights on in the university, so they need grad students to fill their seminars and they need grad students to actually teach college. Meanwhile, RC graduates 250 people a year, a majority of whom get tenure track jobs, precisely because we treat teaching undergraduates as honorable, important work. Which explains why we have more juice than you in the contemporary university.

 

The absolute, utterly bizarre aspect of your performance here is that everything that you complain about in RC is so much worse in literature. You're not really mad at us, are you? It's absolutely plain that you're just lashing out at people who have nothing to do with your unemployment and who have structured their programs in the way necessary to avoid the very situation that you complain about. Physician, heal yourself.

I will disagree with you on one point here. C/R programs, sadly, are growing faster than the job market. Now, the good news for phds is that they will be taking some of those visiting prof/contingent lines normally going to Lit folks, but there aren't as many jobs as graduates in our field either (and that's not going to change with some programs producing dozens of PhDs every year.) 

 

Another point worth mentioning is that a C/R MA, unlike a Lit one, is actually marketable.

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Again, your selectivity in this regard is baffling: literature trains thousands of PhDs a year that it can't get hired. Literature is absolutely, utterly dependent on adjunct and graduate school labor. Literature is a small handful of tenured poohbahs who hate teaching and hate their students and just want to lock themselves in their office and write the thousandth book on reading Dickens through Lacan-- which is a very big reason why English has no political clout to oppose the situation you deride.

 

 

Daaaaang. 

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Again, your selectivity in this regard is baffling: literature trains thousands of PhDs a year that it can't get hired. Literature is absolutely, utterly dependent on adjunct and graduate school labor. Literature is a small handful of tenured poohbahs who hate teaching and hate their students and just want to lock themselves in their office and write the thousandth book on reading Dickens through Lacan-- which is a very big reason why English has no political clout to oppose the situation you deride. RC is far, far from perfect. But the field has stayed small, on purpose, precisely so as not to produce tons of PhDs in the position that you're in. Literature profs are too proud to teach the introductory courses that keep the lights on in the university, so they need grad students to fill their seminars and they need grad students to actually teach college. Meanwhile, RC graduates 250 people a year, a majority of whom get tenure track jobs, precisely because we treat teaching undergraduates as honorable, important work. Which explains why we have more juice than you in the contemporary university.

 

The absolute, utterly bizarre aspect of your performance here is that everything that you complain about in RC is so much worse in literature. You're not really mad at us, are you? It's absolutely plain that you're just lashing out at people who have nothing to do with your unemployment and who have structured their programs in the way necessary to avoid the very situation that you complain about. Physician, heal yourself.

 

I understand your frustration.  And I understand you were responding to somebody else.  But you have to know that your cartoon version of Literature programs and professors fits neatly into the very rhetoric neoliberals (or whatever word one prefers to use) use to hack away at the entire humanities.  

 

Personally, even though I am in Literature, I take C/R very seriously and study C/R scholarship.  I considered a Ph.D. in Comp/Rhet. 

 

But what do you propose?  That they get rid of literature? Do you think for a second that if that happens, that rhet comp will thrive? The University will be more streamlined or complete? I'm seriously asking. 

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