In early April:
Our CCCC roundtable wrapped up a few minutes ago (exactly :05, according to the entry-scheduler's timestamp). Eight of us planned and proposed this as a session that would be delivered simultaneously in Indianapolis, live, and also via Twitter, using scheduled tweets with the #4c14 hashtag with links to YouTube versions of the presentations, complete with closed-captioning. I finished setting up the scheduled tweets a few minutes ago--on Monday the 17th--and thought I may as well embed the full playlist into a blog entry, too, both to capture the event here and to circulate it yet again for anyone who might have missed it.
I'm sure there is more to say about it--both about the mix of pre-tenure WPA perspectives collected here and also about the production process involved with planning and putting together the slidedecks, audio files, and transcripts. I'm also interested in when this is delivered and circulated in time. How many nows? With any luck, there will be time enough for thinking through this more and considering the value in session-wide durable artifacts (hyper-deictic time capsules) after we're all tick-tocking on the other side of this busy week.
I'd planned for this to be an entry about next Thursday's roundtable, E.17, "Polymorphic Frames of Pre-Tenure WPAs: Eight Accounts of Hybridity and Pronoia," 4:45-6 p.m. in the Indiana Marriott Downtown, Indiana Ballroom E, First Floor (that's right: both hotel and room are named after the state...enough-iana alreadiana). But I'm short on time, looking at a to-do list the length of my arm, and due to be at a reading group at the Corner Brewery in a few minutes on Doug Brent's "The Research Paper and Why We Should Still Care." About the roundtable: eight of us put it together with the promise that we would present live versions in Indianapolis and at the same time deliver bundled and closed-captioned versions via scheduled Tweet-drops set for the same time as our panel. It's an experiment with openness and circulation, in this sense, and since we're one of the few E sessions scheduled in the Indiana Marriott (not the JW Marriott...though I'm still not sure I grasp what this even means), our double-up of live and YouTube versions is just as well.
My portion of the roundtable is called "Mad Handles"--a double-teaming of basketball handles and data visualization handles, but there I've gone and already said too much. For at least ten days in early February, I had this and only this as my main slide--even considered using it as the only slide for the entire talk, an animated GIFmash on an interminable "forever" loop.
This and more next Thursday evening.
In her 1990 "A Personal Essay on Freshman English," revised and published in 1998, Sharon Crowley writes,
In fact, I wager that Freshman English will continue to exist in its traditional form for a long time to come, despite the efforts of leftist composition teaches to alter its focus toward social change. I have several reasons for suspecting this. First, the traditional required course reassures taxpayers that their children are getting one final guaranteed dose of "correct" English. Second, Freshman English is a cheap way for university faculty to salve their guilt about their own teaching, which is discipline-centered and which forces students to accommodate to the discipline's ways of knowing or to fail. Third, the emergence of composition studies has enabled a few writing teachers to do research, to publish professional discourse, to get grants, rank, and tenure, and thus to assume power in English departments and university politics. Freshman English is our daily bread. Newly enfranchised professionals will want to think twice before tampering with a sure thing. In short, I doubt whether it is possible to radicalize instruction in a course that is so thoroughly implicated in the maintenance of cultural and academic hierarchy. (235)
I suppose one of the worst things a novice, yet-untenured WPA can do during the first semester steering a large-scale writing program is to read every last word of Crowley's Composition in the University, again. Another worst: to bring the new cohort of first-time writing teachers along on that reading. Worst meaning best, of course.
The repetitive and repressive curriculum of Freshman English is directly linked to its institutional status as a required introductory-level course. Freshman English is attached to a huge administrative enterprise on almost every college campus in the country. Its very size subjects its administrators, teachers, and students to unprofessional and unethical working practices on a scale that is replicated nowhere else in the academy. (229)
But that's where we're headed this afternoon in ENGL596. Crowley's rationale for the get-rid-of-it polemic resonate still today, and what better than an encounter-cum-dissoi-logoi (if you'll please forgive the Latin-Greek mix!) with Crowley's well-defined, hard-set stance to resolve, for now, why and to what ends we are doing what we are doing.