Travis Mossotti writes with humor, gravity, and humility about subjects grounded in a world of grit, where the quiet mortality of working folk is weighed. To Mossotti, the love of a bricklayer for his wife is as complex and simple as life itself: “ask him to put into words what that sinking is, / that shudder in his chest, as he notices / the wrinkles gathering at the corners of her mouth.” But not a whiff of sentiment enters these poems, for Mossotti has little patience for ideas of the noble or for sympathetic portraits of hard-used saints. His vision is clear, as clear as the memory of how scarecrows in the rearview, “each of them, stuffed / into a body they didn’t choose, resembled / your own plight.” His poetry embraces unsanctimonious life with all its wonder, its levity, and clumsiness. About the Dead is an accomplished collection by a writer in control of a wide range of experience, and it speaks to the heart of any reader willing to catch his “drift, and ride it like the billowed / end of some cockamamie parachute all the way / back to the soft, dysfunctional, waiting earth.”
After Plato redefines the relationships of rhetoric for scholars, teachers, and students of rhetoric and writing in the twenty-first century. Featuring essays by some of the most accomplished scholars in the field, the book explores the diversity of ethical perspectives animating contemporary writing studies—including feminist, postmodern, transnational, non-Western, and virtue ethics—and examines the place of ethics in writing classrooms, writing centers, writing across the curriculum programs, prison education classes, and other settings.
When truth is subverted, reason is mocked, racism is promoted, and nationalism takes center stage, teachers and scholars of writing are challenged to articulate the place of rhetorical ethics in the writing classroom and throughout the field more broadly. After Plato demonstrates the integral place of ethics in writing studies and provides a roadmap for future conversations about ethical rhetoric that will play an essential role in the vitality of the field.
Contributors: Fred Antczak, Patrick W. Berry, Vicki Tolar Burton, Rasha Diab, William Duffy, Norbert Elliot, Gesa E. Kirsch, Don J. Kraemer, Paula Mathieu, Robert J. Mislevy, Michael A. Pemberton, James E. Porter, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Xiaoye You, Bo Wang
In the rational modern world, belief in the supernatural seemingly has been consigned to the worlds of entertainment and fantasy. Yet belief in other worldly phenomena, from poltergeists to telepathy, remains strong, as Gillian Bennett's research shows. Especially common is belief in continuing contact with, or the continuing presence of, dead family members. Bennett interviewed women in Manchester, England, asking them questions about ghosts and other aspects of the supernatural. (Her discussion of how her research methods and interview techniques evolved is in itself valuable.) She first published the results of the study in the well-received Traditions of Belief: Women and the Supernatural, which has been widely used in folklore and women's studies courses. "Alas, Poor Ghost!" extensively revises and expands that work. In addition to a fuller presentation and analysis of the original field research and other added material, the author, assisted by Kate Bennett, a gerontological psychologist, presents and discusses new research with a group of women in Leicester, England.
Bennett is interested in more than measuring the extent of belief in other worldly manifestations. Her work explores the relationship between narrative and belief. She anticipated that her questions would elicit from her interviewees not just yes or no replies but stories about their experiences that confirmed or denied notions of the supernatural. The more controversial the subject matter, the more likely individuals were to tell stories, especially if their answers to questions of belief were positive. These were most commonly individualized narratives of personal experience, but they contained many of the traditional motifs and other content, including belief in the supernatural, of legends. Bennett calls them memorates and discusses the cultural processes, including ideas of what is a "proper" experience of the supernatural and a "proper" telling of the story, that make them communal as well as individual. These memorates provide direct and vivid examples of what the storytellers actually believe and disbelieve. In a final section, Bennett places her work in historical context through a discussion of case studies in the history of supernatural belief.
Elizabeth B. Pinson shares with us her memories of Alaska's emergence into a new and modern era, bearing witness to history in the early twentieth century as she recalls it. She draws us into her world as a young girl of mixed ethnicity, with a mother whose Eskimo family had resided on the Seward Peninsula for generations and a father of German heritage. Growing up in and near the tiny village of Teller on the Bering Strait, Elizabeth at the age of six, despite a harrowing, long midwinter sled ride to rescue her, lost both her legs to frostbite when her grandparents, with whom she was spending the winter in their traditional Eskimo home, died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Fitted with artificial legs financed by an eastern benefactor, Elizabeth kept journals of her struggles, triumphs, and adventures, recording her impressions of the changing world around her and experiences with the motley characters she met. These included Roald Amundsen, whose dirigible landed in Teller after crossing the Arctic Circle; the ill-fated 1921 British colonists of Wrangel Island in the Arctic; trading ship captains and crews; prospectors; doomed aviators; and native reindeer herders. Elizabeth moved on to boarding school, marriage, and the state of Washington, where she compiled her records into this memoir and where she lived until her death in 2006.
An Alternate Pragmatism for Going Public interrogates composition’s most prominent responses to contemporary K–16 education reform. By “going public,” teachers, scholars, and administrators rightfully reassert their expertise against corporate-political standards and assessments like the Common Core, Complete College America, and the Collegiate Learning Assessment. However, author Jim Webber shows that composition’s professional imperative for self-defense only partly fulfils the broader aims of “going public,” which include fostering public participation that can assess and potentially affirm the public good of professional judgment.
Drawing on the pragmatic/democratic tradition, Webber envisions an alternate rhetoric of professionalism, one that not only reasserts compositionists’ expertise but also expands opportunities for publics to authorize this expertise. While this public inquiry and engagement may not safeguard professional standing against neoliberal reform, it reorients composition toward an equally important goal, enabling publics to gauge the adequacy of the educational standardization so often advocated by contemporary reform.
An Alternate Pragmatism for Going Public shows how public engagement can serve composition’s efforts related to “going public.”
Cowboy, judge, federal official, then business executive, Wilson McCarthy mirrored change and growth in the twentieth-century West. Leading the Denver & Rio Grande back from the brink saved a vital link in the national transportation system. The D&RGW ran over and through the scenic Rockies, developing mineral resources, fighting corporate wars, and helping build communities. The Depression brought it to its knees. Accepting federal assignment to save the line, McCarthy turned it into a paragon of mid-century railroading, represented by the streamlined, Vista-Domed California Zephyr, although success hauling freight was of more economic importance. Prior to that, McCarthy’s life had taken him from driving livestock in Canada to trying to drive the national economy as a director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the first line of federal attack on the Depression. Always a Cowboy positions McCarthy’s story in a rich historical panorama..
Will Bagley is the author of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows
Around the Texts of Writing Center Work reveals the conceptual frameworks found in and created by ordinary writing center documents. The values and beliefs underlying course syllabi, policy statements, website copy and comments, assessment plans, promotional flyers, and annual reports critically inform writing center practices, including the vital undertaking of tutor education.
In each chapter, author R. Mark Hall focuses on a particular document. He examines its origins, its use by writing center instructors and tutors, and its engagement with enduring disciplinary challenges in the field of composition, such as tutoring and program assessment. He then analyzes each document in the contexts of the conceptual framework at the heart of its creation and everyday application: activity theory, communities of practice, discourse analysis, reflective practice, and inquiry-based learning.
Around the Texts of Writing Center Work approaches the analysis of writing center documents with an inquiry stance—a call for curiosity and skepticism toward existing and proposed conceptual frameworks—in the hope that the theoretically conscious evaluation and revision of commonplace documents will lead to greater efficacy and more abundant research by writing center administrators and students.
Although fraught with politics and other perils, teacher evaluation can contribute in important, positive ways to faculty development at both the individual and the departmental levels. Yet the logistics of creating a valid assessment are complicated. Inconsistent methods, rater bias, and overreliance on student evaluation forms have proven problematic. The essays in Assessing the Teaching of Writing demonstrate constructive ways of evaluating teacher performance, taking into consideration the immense number of variables involved.
Contributors to the volume examine a range of fundamental issues, including the political context of declining state funds in education; growing public critique of the professoriate and demands for accountability resulting from federal policy initiatives like No Child Left Behind; the increasing sophistication of assessment methods and technologies; and the continuing interest in the scholarship of teaching. The first section addresses concerns and advances in assessment methodologies, and the second takes a closer look at unique individual sites and models of assessment. Chapters collectively argue for viewing teacher assessment as a rhetorical practice.
Fostering new ways of thinking about teacher evaluation, Assessing the Teaching of Writing will be of great interest not only to writing program administrators but also to those concerned with faculty development and teacher assessment outside the writing program.
In Assignments across the Curriculum, Dan Melzer analyzes the rhetorical features and genres of writing assignments through the writing-to-learn and writing-in-the-disciplines perspectives. Presenting the results of his study of 2,101 writing assignments from undergraduate courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, business, and humanities in 100 postsecondary institutions in the United States, Assignments across the Curriculum is unique in its cross-institutional breadth and its focus on writing assignments.
The results provide a panoramic view of college writing in the United States. Melzer's framework begins with the rhetorical situations of the assignments—the purposes and audiences—and broadens to include the assignments' genres and discourse community contexts. Among his conclusions is that courses connected to a writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) initiative ask students to write more often, in a greater variety of genres, and for a greater variety of purposes and audiences than non-WAC courses do, making a compelling case for the influence of the WAC movement.
Melzer's work also reveals patterns in the rhetorical situations, genres, and discourse communities of college writing in the United States. These larger patterns are of interest to WAC practitioners working with faculty across disciplines, to writing center coordinators and tutors working with students who bring assignments from a variety of fields, to composition program administrators, to first-year writing instructors interested in preparing students for college writing, and to high school teachers attempting to bridge the gap between high school and college writing.
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