Why do you think Vitanza says such terrible things about the "uni-versity"? Why do you think Vitanza, apparently, is always attacking his "colligs" in rhetoric and/or composition?
Victor J. Vitanza
A while back, one of our doctoral students was planning his exam reading list. . . . Imagine our surprise-albeit before he plunged into his reading list-when he told us that a direction he envisioned for his work involved connecting rhetoric to composition. Not exactly a new concept, we gently pointed out. (This was the same week my teenage daughter and I discussed the propriety of entertaining both male and female friends in her bedroom.) Don't some things just go without saying?? Where did we go wrong? What did we forget to put in the curriculum?!
Those who write about rhetoric of various sorts in contemporary literary theory do so, for the most part, in ignorance of the field of rhetoric and composition.
Even as the scholarly presence of advanced composition has evaporated from our journals, two recent books, Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum and Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs, frame possibilities for reconceiving writing instruction in ways that begin to open up the spaciousness of rhetoric within the vast gap between first-year writing and graduate education.
I noticed that all my uses of the phrase “rhetoric and composition studies” had been changed to “composition studies.” That was the first time I seriously wondered about the absence of rhetoric in the term composition studies. . . .
. . . how richly embroidered composition-rhetoric studies now are but whose scholarly/pedagogical identities affirm the claim that the two terms composition and rhetoric can be made to constitute one word, composition-rhetoric, the stance that I would like to promote in our institutions as they normalize composition-rhetoric studies in English departments and in stand-alone departments.
I once bristled when an oh-so-proper official of the MLA requested that I remove a
slash from the title of my already-accepted MLA conference presentation. Before the program
went to print, you see. I said no. The slash was necessary, and it stayed. For once in my
life, it was an either/or decision.
Ultimately, she [Sharon Crowley] argues that the requirement of the first-year writing course be abolished because the requirement fosters the attitude that it is a service to the "important" courses in the university; thus, its teachers and researchers are somehow of less worth than their colleagues.
. . . these universities and colleges subsidize tenured faculty members who claim to be compositionists-rhetoricians and have constructed fiefdoms that effectively exclude people trained in the field of composition-rhetoric.
Our field boasts various narratives of origin, not all of which are necessarily tied into classical rhetorical history and theory.
. . . we might consider working in service of curricular revision that will reflect what our rhetorical training has offered us.
I do not have high hopes for a rapprochement between rhetoric and
composition; indeed, at this moment in time I am very concerned about the
very survival of the academic study of rhetoric.