(Re)Birth of the Author: Informal Blog Post #2

It’s fun and a bit bizarre to look at Barbara’s scholarship close-up. Her concerns in the longer article are still relevant today at CCNY. Accessibility of resources and even just the notion that writing studies in any form is an actual discipline is a bizarrely uphill battle, leaving writing programs stripped of funding and reliant on contingent labor.

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In her piece, “Remediation Phase-Out at CUNY: The ‘Equity versus Excellence” Controversy,” Gleason establishes her (thunderous) voice of advocacy for BW students, citing research that problematizes CUNY’s proposed refurbishment of remedial courses as exclusionary (490).

Perhaps my favorite element of Barbara’s “Evaluating Writing Programs in Real Time: The Politics of Remediation,” is her deciduous use of the “I.” Academic writing has long been characterized as impersonal, devoid of author, at least since Barthes’s influential text. I appreciate Barbara’s commitment to acknowledging her own expectations and biases in this text, especially where she evaluates her own limitations as learner and author: “[m]y own naive expectation” (579) and in this longer statement:

[t]he full impact was brought home to us when, in this project’s final year, our Faculty Council voted to make English 110 (and no longer just remedial writing) a prerequisite… a decision that would impede the progress of all students by at least two, and in some cases, three semesters. (573)

I dig Barbara’s commitment to this ethos, and I appreciate her barely-disguised ideological angst throughout the whole piece. She’s obviously really committed to the integrated courses, and it’s interesting to see how her research interests fomented the eventual L&L program and her continuing Freirean pedagogy.

Similarly, Lynn Quitman Troyka’s open letter, “How We Have Failed the Basic Writing Enterprise,” elucidates further subjectivities on the subject of BW; Troyka outlines 4 primary failures in BW in depth. spanning from public response to linguistic appropriation. Troyka’s piece embraces first-person liberally, paralleling what many composition instructors at all levels ask from students in reflective writing. Both Troyka’s & Gleason’s (and now my) embracement of first-person, of subjecthood, is pivotal in challenging the neoliberal ethos Mike Rose details in Why School?, wherein business-minded professionalism dominates public institutional thinking.


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poet | English faculty at City College of New York | Writing Consultant all over | M.A. in Language and Literacy at City College (summa cum laude) | Nonfiction & poetry editor at Identity Theory | into vegan tacos, spy movies, and queering digital composition Follow me @riceevans

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