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ERIC Number: EJ776462
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
The Stakes of Not Staking Our Claim: Academic Freedom and the Subject of Composition
Boland, Mary
College English, v70 n1 p32-51 Sep 2007
Many students occupy a minimal space between the profession of composition studies and larger social and institutional constructions of composition, writing, and literacy. For most people outside the field, writing is viewed as a set of skills, rather than a substantive area of study. If students would only learn the rules--and if composition teachers would only teach those rules--then students would write better (and be less burdensome to people in other fields). This is the perspective that typically informs the first-year writing requirement at most schools. For people inside composition, it is this institutional agenda and obligation that clouds their sense of the subject matter "as a subject matter" and promotes the idea that there is a split between theory and practice in the field. In this article, the aspect the author wishes to highlight is simply this: at the exact moment that disciplined knowledge making was introduced as a primary function of higher education, composition was created as a wholly nondisciplinary course. Born of a test, college composition was always imagined as preparatory to disciplinary work, but not itself amenable to disciplined inquiry. The corollary to this, of course, is that students became, in lieu of a disciplinary subject, the de facto subject(s) of scrutiny. This historical construction has left the composition professional largely unprotected by the tenets of academic freedom. Students deserve more than skills training; they deserve an education, and teachers deserve the right to teach them. (Contains 5 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A