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Reinventing The University

Reinventing The University: Literacies and Legitimacy in the Postmodern Academy

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    Reinventing The University
    Book Description:

    Christopher Schroeder spends almost no time disputing David Bartholomae's famous essay, but throughout ReInventing the University, he elaborates an approach to teaching composition that is at odds with the tradition that essay has come to represent.

    On the other hand, his approach is also at odds with elements of the pedagogies of such theorists as Berlin, Bizzell, and Shor. Schroeder argues that, for students, postmodern instability in literacy and meaning has become a question of the legitimacy of current discourse of education. Schroeder is committed, then, to constructing literacies jointly with students and by so doing to bringing students to engage more deeply with education and society.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-471-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. PROLOGUE Reread(writ)ing the Contemporary Crisis in Literacy
    (pp. 1-31)

    On March 29, 2000, a headline on the front page ofThe New York Timesannounced “Citing a Crisis, Bush Proposes Literacy Effort.” Above the fold—interspersed with articles about the failures of NASA’s management, the conflicts facing Haitian immigrants in the United States, the efforts of nonprofit groups to exploit a loophole in the tax law, and decisions of OPEC nations to increase oil production despite Iran’s resistance—is an article about politics and literacy. It opens with this paragraph: “Once again mooring traditionally Democratic issues to the agenda of his Republican presidential campaign, Gov. George W. Bush of...

  2. INTERLUDE Early Efforts to Read/Write Constructed Literacies: Journal of a Dissertation Director
    (pp. 32-38)

    We are finally on our way. The prospectus is signed and the work can begin.

    Despite the conversations about and revisions of that preliminary document, however, I can’t say that I really know where this dissertation is going. That can probably be said for all dissertations, but this one in particular seems so global that I worry about its focus. It seems to reach out in too many directions, wanting to remake our understanding of language, the academy, pedagogy, social systems, and beyond. One might as well want to heal the sick, raise the dead, and free the imprisoned. Noble...

    (pp. 39-69)

    As I explained, my reading of what has been called by many—including critics, theorists, and George W. Bush—a crisis in literacy is that it is less indicative of some deficiency in literacy skills and more revealing of crises of meaning and legitimacy within schools and society. This reading is consistent with and builds upon the perspectives offered by others. For example, Paul Morris and Stephen Tchudi argue that conventional versions of literacy have failed schools and society and the alternatives that have been fashioned fail to respond to contemporary literacy needs. Maureen Hourigan asserts that any assessments of...

  4. INTERLUDE Read(Writ)ing Classrooms With Department Chairs
    (pp. 70-84)


    In thinking about the problems I’ve encountered with writers and readers in the classroom, like confusion and vagueness, I wonder if many of these *miscommunications* stem from the fact that I’m beginning with a different understanding of knowledge, learning, and meaning than many of them are accustomed to. At the beginning of each semester and regardless of whether it is a literature or a composition course, I feel this tension between outlining my immediate understandings of knowledge, meaning, discourse, and world, in which case the course becomes an introduction to postmodern rhetoric, and simply beginning with the ostensive material...

    (pp. 85-121)

    I have been asserting that what critics call the crisis of literacy and education in America is less a deficiency in students’ skills and abilities and more a crisis in the legitimacy of the literacies that have been institutionalized within American colleges and universities. In the previous chapter, I have argued that the practices of literature and composition textbooks establish a decontextualized and universalized version of academic literacy. As linguistic representations of modernism, conventional academic literacies become meaningful within an institutional culture that aspires to totalization and unity, a culture which is situated within the subjectivity of the romanticized individual...

  6. INTERLUDE Read(Writ)ing Classrooms with Students I
    (pp. 122-125)

    Before entering Dr. Schroeder’s English 101 class, I expected a traditional instruction on grammar and writing. However, I later learned that Dr. Schroeder uses a more modern way of teaching in which he instructs his students about different literacies and presents abstract ideas. He was very enthusiastic about the subjects presented in each class. Dr. Schroeder teaches the students about the Literacy of the Academy and compares and contrasts it to other literacies or themes. For example, in the class I attended, he and the students discussed how the Literacy of the Academy relates to the Literacy of Cyberspace or...

    (pp. 126-168)

    In chapter two, I offered examples of the concerns that Freire and others have had about critical literacies in American schools¹ by considering the classroom practices of James Berlin and Ira Shor, two theorists who have done much to foster the conversations about critical literacies in contemporary American colleges and universities. As I explained previously, each of these theorists, in different ways, has made important contributions to critical literacies, and yet their classroom practices, though for different reasons, cannot sufficiently resolve the conditions that have been called the contemporary crisis in literacy. What I intend to do in this chapter...

  8. INTERLUDE Read(Writ)ing Classrooms with Students II
    (pp. 169-173)

    Being exposed to the same teacher for an extended period of time can result in many things-some good and some bad. I have taken English 101 and 102 with Dr. Schroeder, and by choice, surprisingly. I found through the first semester that I had developed a love/hate relationship with his teaching style, but there was enough of the love to have me sign up with him again for my second and final semester of Freshman English.

    Dr. Schroeder has some very interesting views on all sorts of topics—some I agree with, some I do not, and some I have...

    (pp. 174-221)

    As I have been arguing throughout, the contemporary conditions that are being called a crisis in literacy are more productively described as part of larger social crises of engagement and meaning. In offering this reading of literacy and learning, I have rewritten what critics are calling the contemporary crisis in literacy in such a way as to foreground it as merely a symptom of a larger crisis in legitimacy, not only in American educational institutions but also in, and as a result of, the dominant cultures of American society at large. Based upon my experiences in college classrooms, both as...

  10. INTERLUDE Read(Writ)ing Constructed Literacies With Colleagues
    (pp. 222-232)

    Dear Chris,

    Thanks for the invitation to respond to your interesting book. I think I have something to contribute to your project of seeking an alternative literacy that is more constructed and constructive than what now seems disappointing. For what strikes me as most eloquent in your book is your picture of students alienated from the rewards of literacy—and the more muffled tale of your own sour after taste after being such a loyal servant of literacy.

    I build on four of your central terms: postmodernism, critical thinking, interlude, and constructed. That is, I think I’m talking about postmodernism...

    (pp. 233-241)

    Thanks, in part, to a coalition of forces that have been loosely called postmodernism, we, as a profession and as a society, have become more aware of differences in our classrooms, as well we should. Between 1960 and 1980, the admission of 8.5 million additional students brought the total enrollment in American colleges and universities in 1980 to 12 million, of which slightly more than 6 million were female students and well over 2 million were minority students.¹ By 1990, the enrollment in American colleges and universities had risen to 13 million students, who represented 32.5 percent of all white...