Listening to Our Elders

Listening to Our Elders: Working and Writing for Change

Samantha Blackmon
Cristina Kirklighter
Steve Parks
Timothy Dougherty
Nicole Gonzales-Howell
LaToya Sawyer
Ben Kuebrich
Justin Lewis
Kate Navickas
Jennifer Sano-Francini
Missy Watson
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgpv9
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Listening to Our Elders
    Book Description:

    In 2011, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) turned one hundred years old. But our profession is endlessly beginning, constantly transforming itself and its purpose as new voices and identities claim their rights in our classrooms and in our country. The recognition of such claims, however, does not occur without a struggle, without collective work. Listening to our Elders attempts to capture the history of those collective moments where teachers across grade levels and institutions of higher education organized to insure that the voices, heritages, and traditions of their students and colleagues were recognized within our professional organizations as a vital part of our classrooms and our discipline. In doing so, Listening to Our Elders demonstrates this recognition was not always easily given. Instead, whether the issue was race, sexuality, class, or disability, committed activist organizations have often had to push against the existing limits of our field and its organizations to insure a broader sense of common responsibility and humanity was recognized. Listening to Our Elders features interviews with Malea Powell (Native American Caucus), Joyce Rain Anderson (Native American Caucus), Jeffery Paul Chan (Asian/Asian American), James Hill (Black Caucus), James Dolmage (Committee for Disability Issue in College Composition), Geneva Smitherman (Language Policy Commitee), Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer (Latino/a Caucus), Victor Villanueva (Latino/a Caucus), Louise Dunlap (Progressive Caucus), Karen Hollis (Progressive Caucus), Louie Crew (Queer Caucus), William Thelin (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG), Bill Macauley (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG).

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-857-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction Listening to Our Elders
    (pp. 1-5)
    Samantha Blackmon, Cristina Kirklighter and Steve Parks

    In 1979, J.N. Hook, Executive Secretary of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) from 1954–1960, published A Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE’s First Sixty-Seven Years. His description of the new voices and identities in one of his latter chapters, titled “Human Equation, 1968–1978,” marked the early days when identity based groups and activists began writing, speaking, and working for change that not only changed the face of NCTE but the nation with their identity-based initiatives and revolutionary ideas. As an identity-based collective, our “long way together” for the most part began in the ‘60s,...

  4. American Indian Caucus
    • “We wanted to have an open and welcoming space” An Interview with Malea Powell
      (pp. 6-20)
      Cristyn L. Elder, Alexandra Hidalgo, Laurie A. Pinkert and Malea Powell

      The following interview with Malea Powell was originally shot as a video interview. I am working with Samantha Blackmon, Cristina Kirklighter, and Steve Parks to produce a documentary component to the Writing and Working for Change project. The video interviews, shot by different caucus members and myself, seek to explore the history of the caucuses and SIGs. By conversing with founding members and scholars who have exercised leadership positions in their particular organizations, we hope to provide viewers with a sense of the major events undergone by different caucuses/SIGs, as well as the aims, tone and ideologies that define them....

    • “Work to be done”: Native Americans and Visibility in English Studies An Interview with Joyce Rain Anderson
      (pp. 21-27)
      Resa Crane Bizzaro and Joyce Rain Anderson

      Joyce Rain Anderson is a faculty member at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, near her Wampanoag ancestral grounds. For more than twenty years, she has been an educator and activist in indigenous issues. Anderson has been a member of NCTE and CCCC for a number of years, winning a CCCC Scholars for the Dream Travel Award in 1996. This interview was conducted via email in the fall of 2010.

      Resa Crane Bizzaro (RCB): When did you first attend NCTE or CCCC meetings? Were there Native American groups at the conferences?

      Joyce Rain Anderson (JRA): I had been a member of...

  5. Asian/Asian-American Caucus
    • A Career of Acting “Ill-Mannered” An Interview with Jeffery Paul Chan on Reviewing Textbooks for NCTE and Teaching Ethnic Studies (Because it is Good for People)
      (pp. 28-44)
      Jolivette Mecenas and Jeffery Paul Chan

      In June of 1971, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) invited to Urbana a select group of specialists on Chicano, African American, American Indian, and Asian American literature to review college textbooks used in American literature courses. During a week of working sessions, the Textbook Review Committee—a sub-group of the NCTE Task Force on Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English—evaluated a dozen or so of the most common literature anthologies. They worked under newly developed guidelines for combating racism in the teaching of English and literature, toward the objective that “the truth and reality...

  6. Black Caucus
    • A Conversation with James Hill
      (pp. 45-55)
      Kendra Mitchell and James Hill

      When I reflect on my conversation with Dr. James Hill, I am reminded of a pivotal Toni Morrison quotation toward the end of Beloved: “It was not a story to pass on.” The genesis of the Black Caucus is an education that should not be passed on by any person—not just Blacks—because it is all of our history and its future is all of our responsibility. I knew that I wanted and needed to be a part of capturing this monumental period. Therefore, when I was presented with the opportunity to learn more about the Black Caucus, to...

  7. Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition
    • “I simply gave up trying to present at CCCC on learning disabilities because I needed to get myself on the programs” A conversation with the Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition
      (pp. 56-86)
      Jay Dolmage, Samadhi Metta Bexar, Brenda Brueggeman, Susan Ghiaciuc, Patricia Dunn, Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, Sushil Oswal, Margaret Price, Nicole Quackenbush and Amy Vidali

      Disability has a troubled history in college composition. For most of the twentieth century, people with disabilities were institutionalized in asylums, “schools” for the “feeble-minded,” and other exclusionary institutions: locations deemed the inverse of the college or university. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual (or physical) weakness.

      Yet, the composition course has also been seen by others within academia as a remedial space, the place to temporarily store, fix, and cure students deemed unready for college. College is both a landing and launching space...

  8. Language Policy Committee
    • “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” A conversation with Dr. Geneva Smitherman on Language, Power, and Social Change
      (pp. 87-121)
      Austin Jackson, Bonnie Williams and Geneva Smitherman

      Dr. Geneva Smitherman (“Dr. G”) has been a central figure within almost every radical change in the field of writing, rhetoric, and composition studies over the course of nearly a half-century. From her leading role in the 4C’s Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution and creation of the National Language Policy and Language Policy Committee, to her own pioneering scholarship on African American Language and advocacy in the King “Black English” federal court case, Dr. G’s work as a scholar-activist in the language rights struggle has had a transformational impact on how we engage issues of language, power, and...

  9. Latino/a Caucus
    • Chicana Trailblazer in NCTE/CCCC An Interview with Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer
      (pp. 122-133)
      Itzcóatl Tlaloc Meztli and Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer

      “Enter, unbidden and, occasionally, unwelcome, a new generation of English teachers of color, ready, willing, and determined to enact in their own profession the changes occurring so dramatically in the rest of American society. We were armed with both a high level of professional expertise and prepared to channel it through the deep wells of our own unique, personal, ethnic, and cultural experience. We brought to the NCTE in those years what classroom teachers across the country needed and what the deeply rooted resources of the NCTE were unable to offer. It was this partnership that activated the NCTE of...

    • “When I came to the Caucus there were only three members” An Interview with Victor Villanueva
      (pp. 134-144)
      Iris Deana Ruiz and Victor Villanueva

      Victor Villanueva, a Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican high school dropout, entered community college after the military (1968–1975), earning his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington (with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition studies) ten years later. He is currently a Regents Professor at Washington State University where he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professorship in Liberal Arts. He has worked as an Equal Opportunity Program Director, Writing Project Director, a Director of Composition, Department Chair, Director of the Program in American Studies, and Associate Dean. He chaired the Conference on...

  10. Progressive Caucus
    • Combating Institutional Neutrality Remembering the Progressive Composition Caucus with Louise Dunlap, Karyn Hollis, and Frank Gaik
      (pp. 145-154)
      Timothy R. Dougherty and Justin Lewis

      Founded in 1982 by an editorial collective of friends anchored around Karyn Hollis, then a Ph. D. student at the University of Southern California, the Progressive Composition Caucus (PCC) served as a clearinghouse for activist writing teachers and scholars to share news, ideas, pedagogies, and calls for action during the lean years of the Reagan/Bush era from 1982–1992 (the newsletter lasted until 1988). As Hollis put it in a recent email exchange, “the PCC was a general leftist, activist, political group working with the other caucuses to affect progressive change in local and national venues of all kinds... we...

  11. Queer Caucus
    • Renaming Curiosity/Resisting Ignorance Interviewing Queerness
      (pp. 155-174)
      Martha Marinara and Mark McBeth

      If we think the idea of naming is important, the changes indicated by renaming may indicate even more significance. Since the inception of a GLBTQ-affiliated SIG in the 1970s, the group has changed names various times: Committee on Lesbian and Gay Male Concerns in the English Profession (1972); Lesbian and Gay Male Caucus (1976); Lesbian and Gay Professional Caucus (1992); Queer Caucus (2000). But as Paul Puccio warns in a recent forum about the term queer, “Simple name changes do not resolve complex problems. (“Using the Term ‘Queer’” 56). In the past three decades the current Queer Caucus, evolving through...

  12. Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy Special Interest Group
    • The Conflict with Class An Interview with William Thelin of the Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG
      (pp. 175-188)
      Pamela F. Roeper and William Thelin

      Bill Thelin was the chair of the Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy special interest group of the CCCC from 2004–2009. As one of the original members, Bill led or co-led several initiatives, such as the tutoring outreach to local communities, the Bring-A-Book project, and resolutions and sense of the house motions concerning labor and academic freedom. He worked closely with Ira Shor, the founder of the SIG, on activities ranging from attempts at forming coalitions with other SIGs to sustaining continued dialogue on the group’s listserv. Bill has authored and presented several papers on working-class culture especially about the awareness...

    • Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG and Bring-A-Book
      (pp. 189-193)
      Bill Macauley

      In the fall of 2001, Ed Whitelock suggested to Ira Shor that we collect books from CCCC conference goers, books that had been significant in their literacy development, and donate those books to literacy programs within CCCC-host cities that served working-class and poor communities. It was in Chicago that next spring that Bring-A-Book was begun. From 2002 through the 2008, Bill Macauley, Pat Glazik, Bill Thelin, local conference hosts, and literacy workers from New York to San Francisco, San Antonio to Chicago worked to make quality books available to those who might not otherwise have access to them. However, this...

  13. Editor Profiles
    (pp. 194-194)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)