Rice, “The 1963 Composition Revolution”

Jeff . "The 1963 Composition Revolution Will Not be Televised,
Computed, or Demonstrated by Any Other Means of Technology." Composition
33.1 (2005): 55-73.

Composition’s grand narrative which cites, across multiple sources, 1963 as
the watershed moment for the field–a "revolutionary" resurgence in legitimacy
anchored with the CCCC convention in Los Angeles, marked differentiations
between composition and communications, and the reintegration of classical
rhetoric as an influential force. Rice depicts the year, 1963, as a
"moment of confusion," a moment when the "paperdigm" settled ever more fixedly
into the work of teaching writing at the expense of nearby theoretical
developments merging writing and culture. 1963: a missed opportunity for
comp. Basically, Rice revisits the moment to ask, "What if McLuhan had
been taken seriously by scholars in the then-emerging, then-revolutionary field
of composition studies?" This essay introduces McLuhan as composition
theorist–accounts for McLuhan’s valuable perspectives on how education and,
specifically, writing, will change, must change. With the rejection of
communication studies in the early 60’s, so too was McLuhan’s work rejected, a
triumph of word over image and media, and hence, composition studies as, more
often than not, tipped toward a constrained, purpose-driven, testing-plagued,
rationalistic project relatively unmoved by shifts in writing technologies since
the 1960s.

McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy asks, ""What will be the new configurations of
mechanisms and of literacy
as these older forms of perception and judgment
are interpenetrated by the new electric age?" Why doesn’t this
question enter into the discussions of composition?

"I want to consider how McLuhan’s focus on media as writing has not
been fully understood as relevant to Composition Studies, and I want to
question why it hasn’t. In other words, this essay will explore the
unmentioned media side of the field’s grand narrative by revisiting those
influential moments in 1963 that Composition Studies draws upon for influence
and those it doesn’t as well."

"Echoing what he conceived as the nature of electronic media production,
McLuhan chose a different path than these writers; he abandoned traditional
scholarly rhetoric as well as Aristotelian logic in favor of a collage of
quotations interspliced with commentary, puns, and allusions."

"What makes McLuhan’s presence in 1963 writing theory relevant is
precisely his lack of interest in technology as pure science (or for
assessment purposes) and his promotion of technology as rhetoric."

"McLuhan’s position is that the linear, hierarchal methods which are
conducive to print and which support rational, ordered thinking
must yield to an electronic world where ordered thought no longer plays
the same role in communication."

"Juxtaposition assumes that difference cannot be repeated easily
because the bringing together of unlike texts, ideas, or images produces
different results depending on the material used. Such is the basis of
Ted Nelson’s notion of hypertext, an idea he, too, devised in 1963."

Related sources:
McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: U of Toronto,
North, Stephen. The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an
Emerging Field
. Upper Montclair: Boynton, 1987.
Trimbur, John, and Diana George. "The Communication Battle or Whatever
Happened to The ‘4th C?’" CCC 50 (1999): 682-98.