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Crossing Borderlands

Crossing Borderlands: Composition And Postcolonial Studies

Andrea A. Lunsford
Lahoucine Ouzgane
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    Crossing Borderlands
    Book Description:

    On the surface, postcolonial studies and composition studies appear to have little in common. However, they share a strikingly similar goal: to provide power to the words and actions of those who have been marginalized or oppressed. Postcolonial studies accomplishes this goal by opening a space for the voices of "others" in traditional views of history and literature. Composition studies strives to empower students by providing equal access to higher education and validation for their writing.

    For two fields that have so much in common, very little dialogue exists between them.Crossing Borderlandsattempts to establish such an exchange in the hopes of creating a productive "borderland" where they can work together to realize common goals.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7253-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

    (pp. 1-8)
    Andrea A. Lunsford and Lahoucine Ouzgane

    Across all disciplines, a growing awareness of the importance of minority and subjugated voices to histories and narratives that have previously excluded them has led to widespread interest in postcolonial theory. While quite diverse, this body of work coheres around an exploration of power relations between Western and Third World countries. More particularly, postcolonial studies has sought to expose the mechanisms of oppression through which “Others”—aboriginal, native, or simply preexisting cultures and groups—are displaced, eradicated, enslaved, or transformed into obedient subjects. Joining poststructuralism and postmodernism in challenging the concept of the unified founding subject, postcolonial studies has gone...

    (pp. 9-32)
    Min-Zhan Lu

    This is an invested reading of the essays gathered here. Both composition studies and postcolonial studies have been vital to my thinking about the production and reception of meanings against the grain of global and internal systems of oppression. I am, however, interested particularly in exploring composition’s vitality as “the ungrateful receiver” of the gifts of postcolonial studies. It has been my conviction that if those of us reading, writing, and teaching inside the panopticon of English Studies are to contest the asymmetrical power relations between the so-called metropolitan center and the third world, across divisions of sex, gender, class,...

  3. TOWARD A MESTIZA RHETORIC: Gloria Anzaldúa on Composition and Postcoloniality
    (pp. 33-66)
    Andrea A. Lunsford

    Gloria Anzaldúa has not had an easy time of having what she calls her “own voice.” Born in 1942 and raised in the border country of south Texas (in Jesus Maria of the Valley), Anzaldúa learned early that she was different, an “alien from another planet” who didn’t quite fit with the norms and expectations of her family and community, didn’t “act like a nice little Chicanita is supposed to act” (“La Prieta,” 199, 201). Describing some of her early experiences in “La Prieta,” Anzaldúa rejects ongoing efforts to label her differences in various ways—as lesbian, as feminist, as...

  4. TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT: Postcolonialism, Transnationalism, and Composition Studies
    (pp. 67-83)
    Deepika Bahri

    As a professor of postcolonial literature and theory and a regular in the first-year composition classroom, I was pleased and intrigued to find a session on composition and postcolonial studies at a recent regional conference. Wishing to see how the speakers would apply postcolonial concepts to pressing issues in rhetoric and composition—or conversely, whether postcolonialism had something to learn and gain from the battles and triumphs of the latter, I arrived with a notepad at the ready. The session was indeed illuminating, both in its attempts to bring together a synthesis of ideas from postcolonial, composition, and cultural studies...

  5. ENCOUNTERING THE OTHER: Postcolonial Theory and Composition Scholarship
    (pp. 84-94)
    Gary A. Olson

    Theorists of the postmodern have often asserted that now that we have entered what has been termed the postmodern age, ethics is dead and no system or code of moral values can universally regulate human behavior. Those who make such assertions typically point out that prior to modernity, ethics was a product of divine will as invested in and regulated by the social institution of the Church. With the advent of the Enlightenment and the apotheosis of “reason,” monitoring and enforcing moral behavior switched from the priests to the philosophers, from the Church to the State. Thus, ethics became a...

  6. PRATT AND PRATFALLS: Revisioning Contact Zones
    (pp. 95-109)
    R. Mark Hall and Mary Rosner

    InScience in Action, Bruno Latour describes a number of examples that show how a hypothesis or speculation becomes either fact (i.e., science) or curiosity. He calls fact “ready-made” science—as in the sense of already made: it is black boxed, certain, unproblematic, and stable, and it provides a foundation for future work. He refers to speculation as “science in the making” or “science in action:” it is “rich, confusing, ambiguous, and fascinating,” and its future is uncertain (15). Later in the book, Latour complicates the definition of “black boxed” he has attached to ready-made science, suggesting that he used...

  7. BESIDE OURSELVES: Rhetoric and Representation in Postcolonial Feminist Writing
    (pp. 110-128)
    Susan C. Jarratt

    The value of postcolonial theory for teachers of writing arises in part from its focus on the rhetorical situation of intellectual work applied to the question of difference. By pointing out that academic traditions of Western universities are built on several centuries of economic and cultural imperialism, this theory demands that scholars and teachers of literature and literacies ask rhetorical questions, the answers to which had been for many years assumed: who speaks? on behalf of whom? who is listening? and how? It interrogates the assumption of any group identification and more specifically the relationship of the single “I” to...

    (pp. 129-142)
    Martin Behr

    New genre theories offer valuable insights into how theories of writing that inform composition studies, especially pragmatic theories about writing as social action, are responsive to important issues in contemporary postcolonial studies. Such issues pertain to subjectivity, ethnicity, class, gender, and race. This is so because the new genre theories explain the discursive features of a genre functionally, as standard rhetorical responses to recurring types of rhetorical situations.

    Testimonio, until recently almost exclusively associated with Latin America, is a notable genre in postcolonial analysis where colonized writers and critics have appropriated features of the imperial discourse to articulate their subject...

    (pp. 143-156)
    Aneil Rallin

    I am writing these words in San Diego, on the border between Mexico and the United States of America, the border that Gloria Anzaldúa calls the “1,950-mile-long open wound” (Borderlands2).

    What are the stories behind the body? What is the text that the body would write? The ruptures do not always leave visible marks. The wounds heal, then rupture again. The wounds do not heal completely.

    I am four maybe. I watch a man undress. He is beautiful. I long to reach out and touch his pubic hair. I don’t. I know even then that that desire is transgressive,...

  10. RESISTING WRITING: Reflections on the Postcolonial Factor in the Writing Class
    (pp. 157-170)
    David Dzaka

    I was born and raised in Ghana, the first sub-Saharan nation to gain political independence from Britain. English is the official language in Ghana, and yet it is the second, third, or fourth language for many of us in that country, and indeed in many parts of Africa. My identity as a postcolonial subject raises several questions about my writing development that should be of interest to compositionists: How are my writing difficulties and peculiarities related to my postcolonial background? To what extent are metropolitan writing theories responsive to or interrupted by postcolonial realities?

    There is really no agreement on...

    (pp. 171-198)
    Jaime Armin Mejía

    The words of Berlin and Valdés highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of composition studies in a postcolonial world. Valdés explicitly challenges all those who look to composition studies as a way to “fathom possibilities for language and living” to realize the extent to which such possibilities have been imagined for over “half the world’s people.” Along the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border, for instance, the majority of people are Americans of Mexican descent, and most are fluent and functional in English and Spanish, yet their experiences have not been systematically addressed by rhetoric and composition scholars. These bilinguals,...

  12. HYBRIDITY: A Lens for Understanding Mestizo/a Writers
    (pp. 199-217)
    Louise Rodríguez Connal

    Edward Said’s discussions of orientalism, colonialism, and/or the “Other” apply to the “USAmerican” landscape. Many of the ideas found in his work apply to minority groups within the United States in ways similar to the colonized people about whom he writes. For example, Said claims in his introduction toCulture and Imperialismthat USAmerican identity is hybridized from its inception: “Before we can agree on what the American identity is made of, we have to concede that as an immigrant settler society superimposed on the ruins of considerable native presence, American identity is too varied to be a unitary and...

  13. THE POLITICS OF LOCATION: Using Flare-Ups to Spark “Reflexive Dialogue” in the Ever-Changing Classroom Text
    (pp. 218-237)
    Pamela Gay

    One fall in upstate New York when the leaves were beginning to turn and it was time to give the course I agreed to teach in the spring a title, a theme, to make plans, I wondered how far I could open up a classroom through various forms of face-to-face and computer-mediated dialogue. In an effort to promote student agency, I decided to make “voice” a pedagogical site in a 1995 graduate course I had entitled “Teaching Writing from a Postcolonial Perspective.”

    Like computer-networked discussion, a listserv opens up a subtext of voices seldom heard in our classrooms. The discussion...

  14. THE NEW LITERACY/ORALITY DEBATES: Ebonics and the Redefinition of Literacy in Multicultural Settings
    (pp. 238-254)
    C. Jan Swearingen

    On interstate 30 between Fort Worth and Dallas a large billboard invites enrollments in a private Christian Academy. Large bold text surrounded by golden trumpets and white lilies announces: “no guns, no condoms, no sex education, no tolerance, no diversity.” A conversation overheard in a Pennzoil waiting room amplified the force and illuminated the appeal of these refusals. Two suburban soccer dads, fresh from a golf game, began to talk about the new language arts curriculum at their respective neighborhood schools, curriculum that used rewards, stickers, and candies for good performance, and featured new readings by “some Spanish and Black...