“Disjuncture”: Composing Multiple Literacies in the Basic Writing Classroom: A Book Review

 

In Basic Writing as a Political Act: Public Conversations About Writing and Literacies, authors Linda Adler-Kassner and Susanmarie Harrington discuss how educational ideologies and literacy are not value-neutral in the classroom setting, and argue that examining ideology is key to recasting basic writing as social and actually inherently political. This notion of political must be divested from American cultural semiotics of election, candidate, party, etc.; instead, the authors embrace the “political” as Merriam-Webster introduces the term: “the total complex of relations between people living in society.” Adler-Kassner and Harrington do not explicitly engage in policy discussions, nor do they explicitly address governmental issues that affect Basic Writing; rather, they explicate the complexities of identity and ideology that occur at the intersections of private and public, individual and institutional. The authors focus on practical approaches to basic writing instruction, avoiding popular notions of mastery that rely on quantifiable data and skill-and-drill exercises. The authors repeatedly emphasize the importance of instructors both valuing student contributions and creating a classroom culture of equity-focused inclusivity.

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Bartholomae Final

 

“Rituals and Gestures”: Identity and Discovery in the Writing Classroom

Composition scholar David Bartholomae’s influential article “Inventing the University” explicates his perspectives on how basic writers “write their way into the university,” and how they don’t (12). Bartholomae begins by incorporating text from an introductory student essay that he intends to strike readers as challenging to read, or even upsetting. He counters this expectation by articulating the student’s clever use of what Kathleen Yancey terms “metacognition,” or the ability to recognize the “rituals and gestures” necessary for writing in this particular academic genre, considering audience, etc. (6).

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Assignment #2

I’m stealing this assignment! This takes the “literacy narrative” genre into a different, student-centered, context. The trouble I’ve experienced with writing in this genre is the disinterest many of my students express with “literacy,” an admittedly abstract concept. Replacing this with “communication” brings the same theme into a familiar context, and the examples you provided illustrate two creative ways to approach this prompt. One of my primary foci for my 110 and FIQWS courses this semester is including texts that speak more to my students’ real-world contexts: selections from Buzzfeed’s “Reader” section, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa, short texts by James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, all of which I’ve drawn from my readings in Black and indigenous theory. The goal here, though, is to help usher students feeling included in the university. Both Ferris and Bartholomae echo this notion: it is supremely difficult for students to participate as scholars if the canonic texts all replicate hegemonic narratives. I want to carve a space for them inside the intimidating school building itself: a classroom that values this difference instead of repudiating it.

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Bartholomae – Draft

“Rituals & Gestures”: Identity and Discovery in the Writing Classroom

Composition scholar David Bartholomae’s influential article “Inventing the University” explicates his perspectives on how basic writers “write their way into the university,” and how they don’t (12). Bartholomae begins by incorporating text from an introductory student essay that he intends to strike readers as challenging to read, or even upsetting. He counters this expectation by articulating the student’s clever use of what Kathleen Yancey terms “metacognition,” or the ability to recognize the “rituals and gestures” necessary for writing in this particular academic genre, considering audience, etc. (6).

Continue reading Bartholomae – Draft