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Berlin, James A. Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures: Refiguring English Studies. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1996.
For almost three centuries, English studies in America served to secure the hegemony of the dominant social group by valorizing their cultural capital. Until about 1970, this meant educating a professional elite—lawyers, ministers, politicians, and business leaders. But after 1970, the global economy began to change rapidly and radically. The American economy deindustrialized, and social power now devolved upon a managerial class, those who could best communicate, collaborate, and learn new tasks quickly. Moreover, American society changed rapidly as well, with immigrants coming in record numbers in the 1980s, rich and poor suddenly moving much further apart culturally and economically, and families developing models other than the nuclear to organize their lives. The traditional English department simply cannot cope with all of these rapid changes. Literary theorists and cultural studies scholars understand that they need to redesign their profession, but they may not realize that they need to enlist the aid of workers in social-epistemic rhetoric. These rhetoricians can help them because they are already accustomed to dealing with a wide range of texts, visual and musical as well as print; because they deal with texts that exert power in the world (political, legal, ceremonial, etc.) and not merely those that exist to be appreciated aesthetically; because they have always focused on the production rather than the reception of texts; and because they are comfortable crossing disciplinary boundaries. They can help create a new English studies discipline that erases the split between rhetoric and poetic and studies all forms of signifying practices, their genres, ideologies, and supporting social institutions. The new English studies will equip students not only for work in a postindustrial age but also for participatory citizenship in a multicultural democracy. Berlin concludes with detailed descriptions of two cultural studies courses that enact the pedagogy for which he calls, and three English departments that have already reorganized themselves along the lines he recommends.
Berlin, James A., and Michael J. Vivion, eds. Cultural Studies in the English Classroom. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1992.
Scholars in English studies and composition contribute nine essays that address issues involved in designing literature and/or writing courses with a cultural studies focus, including Michael Blitz and C. Mark Hurlbert, "Cults of Culture"; Philip E. Smith II, "Composing a Cultural Studies Curriculum at Pitt"; Delores K. Schriner, "One Person, Many Worlds: A Multi-Cultural Composition Curriculum"; and Richard Penticoff and Linda Brodkey, " 'Writing about Difference': Hard Cases for Cultural Studies." These essays are followed by ten essays that describe cultural studies courses on such varied topics as the research paper, visual texts, and Shakespeare.
Cushman, Ellen. "The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change." CCC 47 (February 1996): 7–28.
Academics can be activists for progressive social change if they tear down the barriers, both literal and socioeconomic, between them and the communities surrounding their schools. They can find ways to use their specialized academic knowledge to work with literacy activities already happening in the community. Social change need not be defined in terms of sweeping mass movements; it can happen in people's everyday uses of language as well. Rhetoricians can help bring about such changes by sharing academic resources, such as libraries and computers; by tutoring written and oral language, such as that used in a social-service application or job interview; and by implementing service-learning courses according to Bruce Herzberg's model (see ). This activist work is reciprocal, not altruistic, because the academic gains such benefits as interesting research sites. Cushman's appendices make clear that she intends her argument here to stand as a powerful critique of the tendency of some cultural studies scholars and Freirean educators to hold aloof from people whom they regard as unenlightened about the functions of oppressive ideologies. Braddock Award winner.
Farmer, Frank. "Dialogue and Critique: Bakhtin and the Cultural Studies Writing Classroom." CCC 49 (May 1998): 187–207.
A besetting problem in cultural studies pedagogy is the cultural studies critic's apparent stance of superiority over consumers of mass culture, who do not, as the critic does, notice and resist its ideological messages. Students usually resent this superior role for their teacher and reject it for themselves. Two concepts from the work of literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin can help address this difficulty. One is his notion of "anacrisis," or critical questioning. The teacher can use questions to bring out the students' "going truths" or ingrained ideologies and also to reveal his or her own positions. The second is the concept of the "superaddressee," a hypothetical listener or reader who is imagined to understand the speaker or writer perfectly. Bakhtin says that one imagines this audience in order to overcome the fear of being misunderstood or ignored, and thus to be willing to take the risk of uttering or writing. This concept can be used to analyze popular culture artifacts for the vision of a better life that they project. For example, The Cosby Show, attacked by television cultural critic Mark Crispin Miller as racist, can be analyzed as providing with its images of affluence a symbolic corrective to social inequities that make such affluence especially hard for African-Americans to obtain. Such an analysis helps to acknowledge the sources of pleasure in popular culture, which students soon become weary of hearing relentlessly denounced.
McComiskey, Bruce. "Social-Process Rhetorical Inquiry: Cultural Studies Methodologies for Critical Writing about Advertisements." Journal of Advanced Composition 17 (1997): 381–400.
Classical Marxism focuses on a cycle that begins with the production of material things, which are then distributed for purchase, and finally consumed in such a way as to produce more things, so that the cycle continues. Cultural studies applies this cycle to ideology, focusing first on the production of desires for things. Next, cultural studies looks at distribution not in terms of transportation systems and the like but in terms of cultural institutions, such as workplaces, schools, or organs of the mass media, that provide contexts for the values that produce desires. Consumption, for cultural studies, focuses not on the use of material things but on the use of values to construct identities, a process that, in turn, creates new desires. An adequate cultural studies pedagogy must address all three moments in this cycle. It must ask: How do cultural artifacts (advertisements, in this case) construct their ideal consumers through the values they project? How do media that circulate artifacts and their values create larger contexts for them (e.g., how does a fashion magazine create a context for the perfume ad placed in it)? How do the values thus circulated impact consumers, that is, how do people accept, reject, or modify the subject positions these artifacts offer them? Cultural studies critics are often negative about consumers who accept the subject positions offered to them by mass culture as if these were natural or universal. But this view errs by neglecting the extent to which people negotiate with what's offered and shape it to their own ends. McComiskey concludes with specific examples from his own cultural studies pedagogy to teach all three moments in the cycle.
Reynolds, Nedra. "Interrupting Our Way to Agency: Feminist Cultural Studies and Composition." Feminism and Composition Studies: In Other Words. Ed. Susan C. Jarratt and Lynn Worsham. New York: MLA, 1998.
Women need an idea of agency that reflects postmodernism's insights into the multiple and competing subjectivities within the self but that still conceptualizes the possibility of individual action amid one's own circumstances. A rhetorical dimension of this notion of agency might draw upon interruption as a deliberate strategy for those who are all too often interrupted or silenced when they try to speak. A cultural-studies analysis of the impact of feminist work on British cultural studies shows just such a strategy of interruption in action. Similarly, American feminists need to interrupt cultural-studies work in composition. Cultural-studies scholars John Trimbur and James Berlin replicate British male chauvinism when they allow their Marxist-inspired focus on labor and class issues to cause them to neglect gender issues and feminist scholarship. Lester Faigley can also be faulted for relying too heavily on the work of French cultural critic Jean-François Lyotard, leading him to deny metanarratives, such as the critique of patriarchy, that are vital to feminism, and to portray academic discourse as unrelentingly agonistic. Feminist writing teachers can encourage students to interrupt the academy's expectations for traditional academic discourse, with its emphasis on clarity, coherence, and linear organization to prove a thesis, and help students to devise forms more congenial to women.
Rosteck, Thomas, ed. At the Intersection: Cultural Studies and Rhetorical Studies. New York: Guilford, 1999.
Scholars from American Studies, Speech Communication, and English contribute thirteen essays that focus on connections between the theoretical discourses of cultural studies and rhetoric, or that trace such links through analysis of cultural artifacts. Contributors include Carole Blair and Neil Michel, "Commemorating in the Theme Park Zone: Reading the Astronauts Memorial"; Steven Mailloux, "Reading the Culture Wars: Traveling Rhetoric and the Reception of Curricular Reform"; Barry Brummett and Detine L. Bowers, "Subject Positions as a Site of Rhetorical Struggle: Representing African Americans"; Elizabeth Walker Mechling and Jay Mechling, "American Cultural Criticism in the Pragmatic Attitude"; Cary Nelson, "The Linguisticality of Cultural Studies: Rhetoric, Close Reading, and Contextualization"; and Thomas S. Frentz and Janice Hocker Rushing, "Courting Community in Contemporary Culture."
See: Carol Severino, Juan C. Guerra, and Johnella E. Butler, eds., Writing in Multicultural Settings .
Sirc, Geoffrey. "Never Mind the Tagmemics, Where's the Sex Pistols?" CCC 48 (February 1997): 9–29.
Composition teachers were drawn to teaching popular music and encouraging self-exploration and self-expression in the 1960s. But the field returned to more academic materials and goals in the 1970s. Therefore, composition studies ignored the phenomenon of punk music when it emerged in the mid-1970s. Punk's ethos was both nihilistic and playful, unconcerned in either case with success or problem-solving. In the 1980s the neglect of punk continued—its demise as a popular music form around 1980 was ignored—because composition studies wanted irony-free reproduction of academic discourse while punk art abounded in irreverent transformations of familiar images of respect and power. Composition studies favored mastery and control over one's medium, whereas punk artists attempted above all to generate energy and emotion, with musicianship taking a back seat. Composition studies could have benefited from admitting the punk perspective—it would have made writing more fun, put more emphasis on process as opposed to product, and given students permission, too, to hate writing and to fail. Punk's negative perspective is still present, fortunately, and beginning to influence composition studies after all, such as in the work of Richard Miller and Joseph Harris. Sirc's essay exemplifies cultural-studies criticism.
Trimbur, John. "Articulation Theory and the Problem of Determination: A Reading of Lives on the Boundary." Journal of Advanced Composition 13 (Winter 1993): 33–50.
Cultural studies can help explain Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary . In this book, Rose tells the story of his own life according to a familiar American pattern: the poor boy who makes good through his own efforts, especially through acquiring advanced literacy. His moments of resistance to the dominant order—when he just wants to be "average" rather than to excel in school—are mediated by adult mentors, and Rose himself eventually enters adult life successfully and takes a secure place in a profession, teaching. This story could be faulted for undercutting the book's larger purpose by suggesting that the educational reforms Rose advocates would not be necessary if everyone worked as hard as he did. Trimbur argues, however, that the presence of this familiar American narrative in Rose's book should be understood as a "conjuncture," in cultural-studies terms, that is, an historical moment when ideas converge and take their meaning from one another. The meaning of the narrative is changed here by its use in a larger project of education reform. It does not simply celebrate individual effort but rather provides a vehicle for demonstrating the many social constraints on educational success. As in Stuart Hall's "articulation" theory, Rose puts together seemingly contradictory discursive elements in order to make meaning out of his life and to make a persuasive case for reform. We know that he is not simply advocating conformity to traditional literacy as the sole path to success because he also dramatizes the unfairness of traditional standards of evaluation and the richness of nontraditional students' literacy experiences outside of school. Rose's use of a familiar autobiographical trope, therefore, should be understood as a strategy to gain broader popular acceptance for his valuable educational views.
Trimbur, John. Popular Literacy: Studies in Cultural Practices and Poetics. Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2001.
Poses the question of how people make literacy popular, using reading and writing for their own ends rather than for official purposes, and offers fourteen essays that explore that question, including: Mariolina Salvatori, "Porque no puedo decir mi cuento: Mexican Ex-votos' Iconographic Literacy"; Cheryl Glenn, "Popular Literacy in the Middle Ages: The Book of Margery Kempe"; Todd S. Gernes, "Recasting the Culture of Ephemera"; Patricia Bizzell, "Stolen Literacies in Iola Leroy"; Stephanie Almagno, Nedra Reynolds, and John Trimbur, "Italian-American Cookbooks: Authenticity and the Market"; Nicholas Coles, "Joe Shakespeare: The Contemporary British Worker Movement"; Diana George, "Changing the Face of Poverty: Nonprofits and the Problem of Representation"; Lundy Braun and John Trimbur, "Popularizing Science: At the Boundary of Expert and Lay Biomedical Knowledge"; Lester Faigley, "Understanding Popular Digital Literacies: Metaphors for the Internet."