This book contains interviews with psychologist Mary Field Belenky, linguist and philosopher of language Noam Chomsky, French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, international literacy scholar Paulo Freire, distinguished anthropologist Clifford Geertz, philosopher Richard Rorty, and cultural critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (all of whose work has influenced the discipline of rhetoric and composition) followed by essay responses from notable scholars in rhetoric and composition.
Moving student writing beyond academic discourse and into larger public spheres is a difficult task, but Christian R. Weisser’s study challenges composition instructors to do just that. This highly accessible book does what no other study has attempted to do: place the most current, cutting-edge theories and pedagogies in rhetoric and composition in their intellectual and historical contexts, while at the same time offering a unique, practical theory and pedagogy of public writing for use both inside and outside of the classroom.
By positing a theory of the public for composition studies, one which envisions the public sphere as a highly contested, historically textured, multilayered, and sometimes contradictory site, Weisser offers a new approach to the roles that compositionists might assume in their attempts to initiate progressive political and social change.
After first providing a historical context that situates composition’s recent interest in public writing, Weisser next examines recent theories in composition studies that consider writing an act of social engagement before outlining a more complex theory of the public based on the work of Jürgen Habermas. The resulting re-envisioning of the public sphere expands current conversations in rhetoric and composition concerning the public.
Weisser concludes with a holistic vision that places greater political and social import on addressing public issues and conversations in the composition classroom and that elucidates the role of the public intellectual as it relates specifically to compositionists in postmodern society.
Gary A. Olson presents six in-depth interviews with internationally prominent scholars outside of the discipline and twelve response essays written by noted rhetoric and composition scholars on subjects related to language, rhetoric, writing, philosophy, feminism, and literary criticism. The interviews are with philosopher of language Donald Davidson, literary critic and critical legal studies scholar Stanley Fish, cultural studies and African American studies scholar bell hooks, internationally renowned deconstructionist J. Hillis Miller, feminist literary critic Jane Tompkins, and British logician and philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin.
Susan Wells and Reed Way Dasenbrock provide distinctly divergent assessments of the application of Donald Davidson’ s language theory to rhetoric and composition, and especially to writing pedagogy. Patricia Bizzell and John Trimbur explore how Stanley Fish’ s neopragmatism might be useful both to composition theory and to literacy education. And Joyce Irene Middleton and Tom Fox discuss bell hooks’ s notions of how race and gender affect pedagogy. In two frank and sometimes angry responses, Patricia Harkin and Jasper Neel take J. Hillis Miller to task for seeming to support rhetoric and composition while continuing to maintain the political status quo. Similarly, Susan C. Jarratt and Elizabeth A. Flynn express skepticism about Jane Tompkins’ s vocal support of composition and of radical pedagogy particularly. And Arabella Lyon and C. Jan Swearingen analyze Stephen Toulmin’ s thoughts on argumentation and postmodernism.
Internationally respected anthropologist Clifford Geertz provides a foreword; literacy expert Patricia Bizzell contributes an introduction to the text; and noted reader-response critic David Bleich supplies critical commentary.
This book is a follow-up to the editor’ s (Inter)views: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Rhetoric and Literacy, already a major work of scholarship in the field.
In response to those who insist that rhetoric and composition should remain only a service discipline, editor Gary A. Olson’s Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work demonstrates that it already is an intellectual discipline, that for at least a quarter of a century the field has developed an impressive tradition of intellectual work in a remarkable assortment of subject areas. Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work suggests the diversity of intellectual projects that have and will continue to make rhetoric and composition more than a service to the university, more than a field devoted solely to improving writing pedagogy, and more than a preliminary to literary studies.
This collection of nineteen essays by some of the most distinguished scholars in the discipline illustrates that rhetoric and composition has much to contribute to the intellectual milieu of the contemporary university, as the field continues to push its disciplinary borders and discover new sites of investigation.
One of the twentieth century’s most original and influential literary theorists, Stanley Fish is also known as a fascinatingly atypical, polarizing public intellectual; a loud, cigar-smoking contrarian; and a lightning rod for both the political right and left. The truth and the limitations of this reputation are explored in Stanley Fish, America’s Enfant Terrible by Gary A. Olson. At once a literary biography and a traditional life story, this engrossing volume details Fish’s vibrant personal life and his remarkably versatile career.
Born into a tumultuous family, Fish survived life with an emotionally absent father and a headstrong mother through street sports and troublemaking as much as through his success at a rigorous prep school. As Olson shows, Fish’s escape from the working-class neighborhoods of 1940s and 1950s Providence, Rhode Island, came with his departure for the university life at the University of Pennsylvania and then Yale. His meteoric rise through the academic ranks at a troubled Vietnam-era UC-Berkeley was complemented by a 1966 romp through Europe that included drag racing through the streets of Seville in his Alfa Romeo. He went on to become an internationally prominent scholar at Johns Hopkins before moving to Duke, where he built a star-studded academic department that became a key site in the culture and theory wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Olson discusses Fish’s tenure as a highly visible dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago who clashed publicly with the state legislature. He also covers Fish’s most remarkable and controversial books, including Fish’s masterpiece, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in "Paradise Lost," which was a critical sensation and forever changed the craft of literary criticism, as well as Professional Correctness and Save the World on Your Own Time, two books that alienated Fish from most liberal-minded professors in English studies.
Olson concludes his biography of Fish with an in-depth analysis of the contradictions between Fish’s public persona and his private personality, examining how impulses and events from Fish’s childhood shaped his lifelong practices and personality traits. Also included are a chronology of the major events of Fish’s life and never-before-published photos.
Based on hundreds of hours of recorded interviews with friends, enemies, colleagues, former students, family members, and Fish himself, along with material from the Stanley Fish archive, Stanley Fish, America’s Enfant Terrible is a clearly written narrative of the life of an important and controversial scholar.