Changing of Knowledge in Composition

Changing of Knowledge in Composition: Contemporary Perspectives

LANCE MASSEY
RICHARD C. GEBHARDT
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 335
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgjw0
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    Changing of Knowledge in Composition
    Book Description:

    Lance Massey and Richard Gebhardt offer in this collection many signs that composition again faces a moment of precariousness, even as it did in the 1980s-the years of the great divorce from literary studies. The contours of writing in the university again are rapidly changing, making the objects of scholarship in composition again unstable. Composition is poised to move not from modern to postmodern but from process to postprocess, from a service-oriented "field" to a research-driven "discipline." Some would say we are already there. Momentum is building to replace "composition" and the pedagogical imperative long implied in that term with a "writing studies" model devoted to the study of composition as a fundamental tool of, and force within, all areas of human activity. Appropriately, contributors here use Stephen M. North's 1987 book The Making of Knowledge in Composition to frame and background their discussion, as they look at both the present state of the field and its potential futures. As in North's volume, The Changing of Knowledge in Composition describes a body of research and pedagogy brimming with conflicting claims, methodologies, and politics, and with little consensus regarding the proper subjects and modes of inquiry. The deep ambivalence within the field itself is evident in this collection. Contributors here envision composition both as retaining its commitment to broad-based, generalized writing instruction and as heading toward content-based vertical writing programs in departments and programs of writing studies. They both challenge and affirm composition's pedagogical heritage. And they sound both sanguine and pessimistic notes about composition's future.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-821-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Making Knowledge in Composition Then, Now, and in the Future
    (pp. 1-10)
    Lance Massey and Richard C. Gebhardt

    Two ideas motivated this project from the beginning of our collaboration on it. On one hand, we have worked to develop a book that revisits Stephen North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC) nearly twenty-five years after its publication in 1987. On the other hand, we want to use this retrospective orientation as an occasion for trying to make sense of the ways knowledge making has (or hasn’t) changed in the years since the publication of North’s controversial and, by most accounts, influential book, and how it might change in the future. Consequently, this...

  4. NOTES ON THE ORIGINS OF THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION
    (pp. 11-14)
    Stephen M. North

    Reading the essays Lance Massey and Rick Gebhardt have assembled here has led me to reflect—not, to be sure, for the first time—on why a debut book by an untenured writing center director should have caused the kind of stir MKC unquestionably did, or enough of one that we are still discussing it. One part of the answer, I think, is that my professional concerns and anxieties, which account for so much of what the book is about, resonated with a great many other people in composition. The other—a minor but crucial corollary, and not as tongue-in-cheek...

  5. ONE: PERSONAL RESPONSES TO THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION
    • 1 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NORTH’S THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION FOR GRADUATE EDUCATION
      (pp. 17-27)
      Edward M. White

      I was among the handful of English faculty teaching a graduate course in writing research when Stephen M. North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC) appeared in 1987. Before it became available, I used two books for the course, the only ones that seemed to me appropriate: the survey of research produced by Richard Braddock, Richard Lloyd-Jones, and Lowell Shoer twenty-four years earlier (1963), and the collection of essays on writing research edited by Charles Cooper and Lee Odell in 1978. Neither book was really satisfactory. The Braddock, Lloyd-Jones, and Shoer book was hard...

    • 2 THE WORLD ACCORDING TO NORTH—AND BEYOND: The Changing Geography of Composition Studies
      (pp. 28-44)
      Lynn Z. Bloom

      Mapmakers control our view of the world—if we let them. Too often we forget the arbitrary nature of the configuration, its underlying intellectual, political, and linguistic constructs. The Mercator projection of 1569 strategically locates Western Europe in a central and dominant position in the world, thereby giving the tiny British Isles the visual and political prominence they warranted at the time, and relegating whole continents down under the equator to a point beneath the Western chauvinist gaze. Likewise, Saul Steinberg’s “View of the World from 9th Avenue,” the New Yorker’s widely reproduced cover of March 29, 1976, shows...

  6. TWO: WORKING THE FIELD:: KNOWLEDGE-MAKING COMMUNITIES SINCE THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION
    • 3 THE EPISTEMIC PARADOXES OF “LORE”: From The Making of Knowledge in Composition to the Present (Almost)
      (pp. 47-62)
      Richard Fulkerson

      In The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) Stephen North defined one of the eight types of “knowledge making” in the discipline as “lore,” “the accumulated body of traditions, practices, and beliefs in terms of which Practitioners understand how writing is done, learned, and taught” (1987, 22). Nor must a piece of lore actually be “traditional”: “literally anything can become part of lore. The only requirement for entry is that the idea, notion, practice, or whatever be nominated: some member of the community must claim that it worked, or seemed to work, or might work” (24).

      I once had a...

    • 4 PHILOSOPHIES OF INVENTION TWENTY YEARS AFTER THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION
      (pp. 63-83)
      Kelly Pender

      In the preface to his 2003 Where Writing Begins, Michael Carter uses Stephen North’s not-entirely-approving description of philosophical inquiry in The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) (1987) as a kind of disclaimer—as a way to fess up to the methodological shortcomings of his argument before he begins making it. Carter admits, for instance, that he has “foraged far and wide” into theology, astrophysics, ancient Greek philosophy, dialectical theory, and scientific chaos theory for the premises of his argument (xv– xvi). He counts himself among the “accidental philosophers,” who, as North explained, try to solve a practical problem only...

    • 5 MAKING KNOWLEDGE, SHAPING HISTORY: Critical Consciousness and the Historical Impulse in Composition Studies
      (pp. 84-101)
      Erica Frisicaro-Pawlowski

      As the essays in this volume attest, Stephen North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC), published in 1987, is a landmark text in composition, a comprehensive record of key developments, communities, and epistemologies relevant to understanding the field as a field. Yet nearly twenty-five years after its publication, its proper classification within the corpus of disciplinary work produced prior to 1990 is somewhat difficult. North’s text is most commonly defined as an overview of research methods in composition, as in Richard Lloyd-Jones’s 1989 review of the text published in College Composition and Communication (CCC)....

    • 6 MAKERS OF KNOWLEDGE IN WRITING CENTERS: Practitioners, Scholars, and Researchers at Work
      (pp. 102-120)
      Sarah Liggett, Kerri Jordan and Steve Price

      Stephen M. North’s greatest impact on writing center literature is not The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC), published in 1987. Rather it is his 1984 College English article, “The Idea of a Writing Center,” which explains the purposes and workings of writing centers to faculty and administrators not directly involved with them. Grateful that North, viewed then by many as the “leader and spokesperson for writing center work” (Gillam 2002a, xix), had argued so passionately about the importance of writing centers, few writing center folks may recall that he concludes by urging writing center...

    • 7 RHETORIC, RACISM, AND THE REMAKING OF KNOWLEDGE-MAKING IN COMPOSITION
      (pp. 121-134)
      Victor Villanueva

      The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) was causing quite a stir. There was no being a young professional in composition and not reading the book. I read it. Felt good about my training, that I was familiar with most of the references. Tried to fit myself into the taxonomy: surely a practitioner (since one can’t be a compositionist and not practice composing and teaching composing). I wanted to be a historian, the rhetoric kind, though like I’ll make clearer, I would now say a rhetorician, the global-historical kind, some of which analyzes through rhetoric, some of which historicizes through...

  7. THREE: THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION AND EDUCATION:: UNDERGRADUATE,GRADUATE,AND BEYOND
    • 8 UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCHERS AS MAKERS OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION IN THE WRITING STUDIES MAJOR
      (pp. 137-160)
      Joyce Kinkead

      North’s milestone volume, published in 1987, endorses the work of Bruffee and Macrorie, who propose that students within writing courses and writing programs “have more right to textual authority than has been traditionally afforded them” (118). North calls for textual authority for students within writing courses and courses such as introduction to philosophy, in which he analyzed three students’ writing over the course of a term. His research question? “How can we account for these fresh and startling voices?” Twenty-five years on from the publication of The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC), the “fresh...

    • 9 PEDAGOGY, LORE, AND THE MAKING OF BEING
      (pp. 161-172)
      Matthew Jackson

      The first line of the Stephen North’s introduction to The Making of Knowledge in Composition reads: “This book is about how knowledge is made in the field that has come to be called Composition” (1987, 1). By focusing on how people claim to know what they know, North distinguishes what he does from other works about composition that are concerned with what people claim to know about writing.

      One of the important ways that North talks about the making of knowledge in composition is the everyday “how” of practitioner discourse he calls “lore.” For North, lore is defined as, “the...

    • 10 PRACTICE AS INQUIRY, STEPHEN M. NORTH’S TEACHING AND CONTEMPORARY PUBLIC POLICY
      (pp. 173-193)
      Patricia A. Dunn

      At a time when policymakers are circling higher education with No-Child-Left-Behind sound bites such as “student learning outcomes” (Spellings 4), one of North’s central questions from The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) (1987) is more critical than ever: “What do people know about the teaching of writing that they didn’t know fifty or a hundred years ago, and how do they know it?” (Preface; italics in original). With composition handling much of the writing that goes on in college, that field will be a prime candidate for the same kind of public interrogation K–12 schools are suffering right...

    • 11 ON THE PLACE OF WRITING IN HIGHER EDUCATION (AND WHY IT DOESN’T INCLUDE COMPOSITION)
      (pp. 194-210)
      Stephen M. North

      Among other things, The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) was an exploration of the place of writing and writing instruction in U.S. higher education. In the twenty-five years since its publication, the number of such explorations—and, it seems fair to say, the discontentments that drive them—has been on the rise. We have seen it manifested, for example, in proposals for reimagining English studies and/or English departments: James Berlin’s Rhetorics, Poetics and Cultures (1996); James Seitz’s Motives for Metaphor (1999); David Downing, Claude Mark Hurlbert, and Paula Mathieu’s Beyond English Inc.: Curricular Reform in a Global Economy (2002);...

  8. FOUR: DISCIPLINARY IDENTITIES, DISCIPLINARY CHALLENGES:: UNITY,MULTIPLICITY,AND FRAGMENTATION
    • 12 STEPHEN NORTH’S THE MAKING OF KNOWLEDGE IN COMPOSITION AND THE FUTURE OF COMPOSITION STUDIES “WITHOUT PARADIGM HOPE”
      (pp. 213-235)
      David Smit

      Although I admire Stephen North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) a great deal, I find it difficult to evaluate the book’s impact and influence. MKC came out in 1987, when the field of composition studies was undergoing what has been called the “social turn,” a new recognition of the importance of context in discourse, and a concomitant interest in theory and cultural studies. Before the “turn” to context and theory, the field may have had something similar to an established canon in literature. At least we did at the University of Iowa, when I was there in the...

    • 13 ARE WE THERE YET? The Making of a Discipline in Composition
      (pp. 236-263)
      Kristine Hansen

      A frequently debated question among composition scholars during the 1980s, 1990s, and even beyond, was whether the field was a discipline or not. For years, many respected figures in the field have spoken of it as such (e.g., Connors 1999; Goggin 2000; Lauer 2006; Phelps 1988; Slevin 2001), but there are some who firmly disagree or at least express doubt (e.g., Crowley 1998; Harris 2005; Haswell 2005; Miller 2003; Smit 2004). Stephen North’s own answer in 1987 was that composition was not a discipline and could become one only if five criteria were met. First, either it must escape the...

    • 14 COORDINATING CITATIONS AND THE CARTOGRAPHY OF KNOWLEDGE: Finding True North in Five Scholarly Journals
      (pp. 264-282)
      Brad E. Lucas and Drew M. Loewe

      With The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC), published in 1987, Stephen North took on a daring effort to map complex sets of investigations and practices under the big umbrella of composition, studying disparate sites of research on their own terms. Within a year, MKC had gained enough attention to warrant three separate reviews (by James C. Raymond, Richard L. Larson, and Richard Lloyd-Jones) in the February 1989 issue of the field’s flagship journal, College Composition and Communication (CCC). For over two decades, MKC flourished as a publication central to the field’s debates about history,...

    • 15 MAKING SPACE IN COMPOSITION STUDIES: Discursive Ecologies as Inquiry
      (pp. 283-304)
      Patricia Webb Boyd

      In the final chapter of The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC), published in 1987, Stephen North asks a question that has provoked much discussion within our field: “Is there any chance then for an academically full-fledged, autonomous, multi-methodological, knowledge-making Composition?” (369). This question surfaced at a time when composition was trying to make a place for itself in the university. In 1987, composition did not have a clearly delineated identity as a discipline and was widely seen as a service arm of the university. Composition was the sad woman in the basement (Miller 1991), overshadowed by the resurgent interest...

    • 16 THE (DIS)ORDER OF COMPOSITION: Insights from the Rhetoric and Reception of The Making of Knowledge in Composition
      (pp. 305-322)
      Lance Massey

      In the introduction to The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC), Stephen North adopts—only partially metaphorically—the stance of participant-observer, offering his sweeping map of composition’s knowledge-making communities as an attempt “to make sense of what I have seen and done in my ten years of ‘living among’ the people of Composition” (1987, 4). In doing so, North partially aligns his project with Paul Diesing’s Patterns of Discovery in the Social Sciences, and therefore with what North calls “Diesing’s law,” or the principle that methodology trumps subject matter in establishing professional relationships: “It is easier for an Experimentalist concerned...

  9. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 323-325)
    Stephen M. North

    I want to begin this afterword by expressing my appreciation to this book’s editors, Lance Massey and Richard Gebhardt, for undertaking the project in the first place—editing a volume of this kind is always hard work—and then for inviting me to participate. I don’t know that I would have become involved otherwise, and that would have been a shame: I’d have missed what has turned out to be a really interesting opportunity.

    As a writer, I found reading the chapters assembled here to be a kind of blessing. For all that might have been good or bad, insightful...

  10. INDEX
    (pp. 326-331)
  11. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 332-335)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 336-336)