The Politics of Writing Studies
Reinventing Our Universities from Below
A friendly critique of the field, The Politics of Writing Studies examines a set of recent pivotal texts in composition to show how writing scholarship, in an effort to improve disciplinary prestige and garner institutional resources, inadvertently reproduces structures of inequality within American higher education. Not only does this enable the exploitation of contingent faculty, but it also puts writing studies—a field that inherently challenges many institutional hierarchies—in a debased institutional position and at odds with itself.
Instead of aligning with the dominant paradigm of research universities, where research is privileged over teaching, theory over practice, the sciences over the humanities, and graduate education over undergraduate, writing studies should conceive itself in terms more often associated with labor. By identifying more profoundly as workers, as a collective in solidarity with contingent faculty, writing professionals can achieve solutions to the material problems that the field, in its best moments, wants to address. Ultimately, the change compositionists want to see in the university will not come from high theory or the social science research agenda; it must come from below.
Offering new insight into a complex issue, The Politics of Writing Studies will be of great interest to writing studies professionals, university administrators, and anyone interested in the political economy of education and the reform of institutions of higher education in America.
'The book's special value is in its willingness to subject other research in the field to critique. While composition and rhetoric have plenty of faculty willing to revise or complicate the work of others, few are willing to subject other researchers to rigorous, systematic analysis. This book provides a materialist call to action, suggesting that the point is not merely to understand the university but to change it.'
⎯Marc Bousquet, Emory University
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