Composition StudiesComposition StudiesUniversity of Cincinnati

Composition Studies

Fall 1999, 27.2


Patricia Bizzell Hybrid Academic Discourses: What, Why, How
Candace Spigelman Trying for Democracy:  Group Decision Making in the Portfolio Classroom
Peggy O'Neill and Jane Mathison Fife Listening to Students:  Contextualizing Response to Student Writing
Mary Kay Jackman When the Personal Becomes Professional:  Stories from Reentry Adult Women Learners about Family, Work, and School

Course Designs

Sidney I. Dobrin Rhetoric and Environment

Review Essays

Richard E. Miller Making Ourselves Useful:  Pragmatism, Technology, and the Future of Writing Instruction
Derek Owens When Violence Calls for a New Pedagogy
Roger Graves Writing Instruction in the New Millennium


Qualley / Rankin; Penrod / Wilson, Herndl, and Simon

Abstracts for Composition Studies 27.2

Bizzell, Patricia.   "Hybrid Academic Discourses: What, Why, How."  Composition Studies (27.2): 7-22.

Scholars have argued for using composition to initiate students into academic discourse, leaving behind their home discourses and conforming totally to the academic. But in many disciplines today, traditional academic discourse shares the field with new forms of discourse that do serious intellectual work while they violate many of the conventions of traditional discourse. To prepare students for success in college, these new forms of "hybrid" academic discourse must be addressed. "Hybrid" traits include: variant forms of English; non-traditional cultural references; personal experience used to evoke emotional response or as a source of illustrations; "offhand refutation"; "appropriative history"; irony; indirection; collective values affirmation; respectful reproduction of seminal work by others. Teachers can encourage students to experiment with these.

Spigelman, Candace.  "Trying for Democracy:  Group Decision Making in the Portfolio Classroom." Composition Studies (27.2): 23-37.

This essay describes efforts to foster democratic participation by situating portfolio talk and assessment within the public space of one developmental writing classroom.  Using an expanded model of Habermas' democratic sphere, as described by James Berlin, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser and Susan Wells, students were encouraged to construct and negotiate standards for evaluating written work, to resist competition, and to productively disagree and dissent. These activities and the resulting portfolios offer a modest example of the democratic classroom in action. At the same time, complications inherent in this approach underscore the contradictory, fragmented nature of all public spaces.

O'Neill, Peggy, and Jane Mathison Fife.  "Listening to Students:  Contextualizing Response to Student Writing." Composition Studies (27.2):  39-51.

This article identifies factors that are significant to students in their perceptions of teacher response to their writing.  Based on student interviews from a study of two teachers' commenting styles, three factors were found to be important influences on studentsâ interpretations of teacher response: 1) Comments are read in the context of previous teachersâ comments; 2) Comments are read through the studentâs perceptions of the teacherâs ethos; 3) Comments are interpreted as just one facet of a broader framework for response in the class.  The authors argue in the conclusion that more contextual studies are needed to understand how response functions in a classroom.

Jackman, Mary Kay.  "When the Personal Becomes Professional:  Stories from Reentry Adult Women Learners about Family, Work, and School."  Composition Studies (27.2): 53-67.

As more and more adult women return to school, notions about the academy's role in the community, about acceptable academic discourse, and about effective teaching practices in higher education may all be challenged.  That is, as the material characteristics of the student body change, the material structure and function of the academy itself become susceptible to change.  The challenge to and potential transformation of traditional academic environments come about through the ways adult women learners story their lived experience in order to reach their academic goals.  Reentry adult women rely on narrative negotiations of the personal and professional aspects of their lives to make learning and teaching sites both inside and outside the classroom useful and valuable to them.  Their stories suggest the power of the personal to (re)create professional academic realities.