Composition Pedagogy

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Top 30 Most Cited in Composition Studies

Thanks to Jonathan's coding skills, we have a list of the most cited works in composition studies. These are from the journals Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetoric Review, College Composition and Communication, and College English.

Shaughnessy Mina 1977 87
Berlin James A 1987 61
Burke Kenneth 1969 57
Elbow Peter 1973 55
Miller Susan 1991 52
Bartholomae D 1985 52
Bakhtin Mikhail M 1981 49
North Stephen 1987 47
Pratt Mary Louise 1991 46
Heath Shirley Brice 1983 45
Burke Kenneth 1969 43
Berlin James A 1984 42
Connors Robert 1997 40
Burgess Tony 1975 39
Berlin James 1988 38
Fish Stanley 1980 38
Faigley Lester 1992 35
Crowley Sharon 1998 35
Bizzell Patricia 1982 34
Sommers Nancy 1980 33
Harris Joseph 1989 32
Brandt Deborah 2001 31
Graff Gerald 1987 31
Ohmann Richard M 1976 30
Moffett James 1968 30
Burke Kenneth 1966 29
Belenky Mary Field 1986 29
Freire Paulo 1970 29
Kuhn Thomas S 1970 29
Bruffee Kenneth A 1984 28
Eagleton Terry 1983 28

Citational Network Graph: Rhetoric and Composition

Jonathan has done some more technosorcery, producing this time a citational network graph of rhetoric and composition: specifically, the journals College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, and Rhetoric Review. JAC wasn't included because it wasn't in the Web of Science database, and College English might go in later; it has so much work in literary studies that we decided to omit it for now.

Much of this is as one would expect. For example, clusters show us that Kenneth Bruffee, John Trimbur, Greg Myers, and Joseph Harris are cited together. They all wrote about collaborative learning at a particular time.

What I find most interesting about this graph, though, is its more-or-less objective illustration of margins and center. I can't even drag Mina Shaughnessy's Errors and Expectations out of the center. Same with Susan Miller's Textual Carnivals, just about everything by James Berlin but especially Rhetoric and Reality: Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1900 - 1985. Patricia Bizzell “Cognition, Convention, and Certainty: What We Need to Know about Writing.” Maxine Hairston "The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Revolution in the Teaching of Writing." Peter Elbow Writing Without Teachers. These seem to be cited more than, and linked to more varied types of conversations than, any other works of scholarship in rhetoric and composition.

The margins are very interesting too. I find it kind of sad that Paul Kei Matsuda, Min-Zhan Lu, Bruce Horner, and Suresh Canagarajah are in their own diamond shape, so far outside the network that I didn't even have to drag. An island, Jonathan called it. Shows how little engagement our field has with multilingual writers.

Right next to that island is another little one about authorship and intellectual property. Not too far from that, another one in lavender about community engagement and public writing: Ellen Cushman, Christian Weisser, Bruce Herzberg, Susan Wells. Above that, an island that's almost all Kenneth Burke. Above that, in orange, an island about genre with Carolyn Miller, Carol Berkenkotter, John Swales, Charles Bazerman.

I'll certainly be sending this to our graduate students who are preparing for comprehensive exams; I imagine it will be immensely helpful to them. I wish I'd had this back then! Anything you notice that interests you or that is remarkable that I didn't pick up on? (I'm sure that one's a yes.)

Edited! This version has College English as well.

And THIS version has a slider that lets you limit the number of points that show up on the graph.

Browser for Rhetoric Topics

Jonathan has now made a browser for rhetoric and composition topics. Click on a truncated topic on the list, and you see the full topic, a graph showing its career in the journals, and a list of the articles most closely associated with it. Each title on the list is a link directly to the article in JSTOR. Preliminary findings:

1. I wouldn't have guessed that the articles most closely associated with television film radio tv popular media movie movies news magazine films newspaper magazines sports newspapers entertainment advertising examples pictures would be published between the years of 1950 and 1979, but there you go.

Also, I'm finding so many articles I wouldn't have found otherwise, including Macrorie's "A Literature Without Criticism" from the above list.

2. Another interesting-to-me topic was attack defense attacks liberal favor conservative defend political responsibility failed attacked standards accused faith claim typical education attacking dismissed, where I found two articles by Donald Lazere that I'd never read. These articles will help me with some work I'm doing right now with agonistic argumentation.

I encourage all of you to poke around in the browser; that's the best way to understand what all the topic modeling fuss is about.

Initial Foray into Topic Modeling for Rhetoric and Composition

I’m just getting into topic modeling as a research method, thanks to my husband, Jonathan Goodwin. This post represents my first attempt to make sense of it, because its value hasn’t been immediately comprehensible to me. You take a huge corpus of thousands of academic articles (or whatever), and then run a program, which extracts and presents you with groups of words that tend to occur together in the articles (topics).

Jonathan took all of JSTOR’s archives of College English, CCC, Rhetoric Review, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, and JAC and generated 100 topics. Some were coherent, while others seemed more random – though also somewhat interesting; see postscript. Here’s an example of a coherent one:

lectures belles century lettres historians rise influential reform hugh british campbell scottish southern rhetorical blair late alexander england founded

The program will show you a long list of articles that are associated with the topic. So if you were determined to find absolutely everything having to do with Hugh Blair, this method might give you some articles you wouldn’t have found via a regular JSTOR search.

OK, but besides that, what do you DO with the topics? That has always been the confusing question for me, though I have read some work about topic modeling. I want to write a series of posts explaining what I’ve been doing with the topics, to sort it out for myself.

When Jonathan sent me the list of 100 topics, I went through all of them and selected 53 that I thought were interesting. Mostly these were the ones that were most coherent, like the Blair example. I then pasted them into a document, labeled each one, and grouped them together, like so:

History of Rhetoric

classical cicero ancient rhetoric greek roman oratory orator eloquence quintilian invention renaissance speaking aristotle orators rhetoricians vols modem history

plato sophists gorgias socrates sophistic greek phaedrus ancient platonic greece athenian greeks athens sophist protagoras logos dialogues carolina isocrates

lectures belles century lettres historians rise influential reform hugh british campbell scottish southern rhetorical blair late alexander england founded

philosophical philosophy truth logic philosopher rational doctrine philosophers theory aristotle essays thing writings mere science thinking human mind truths

rhetoric rhetorical persuasion rhetoricians kenneth communication speech burke aristotle classical audience argumentation philosophy discourse persuasive arguments quarterly speaker invention

Now, I haven’t yet looked at the lists of articles associated with these topics, but here’s a list of questions that might be answered by giving these lists a close review:

How has the interest in these topics changed over time? This seems to be a favored approach among nerds like my husband – visualizations: graphs that plot the trajectory of when people started becoming interested in the topic, when interest peaked, and when it waned. Below is an obligatory graph for the Hugh Blair topic:

graph showing interest in Hugh Blair and George Campbell in rhetoric and composition journals, late 1930s-late 2000s

Another question I’ve never heard anyone ask, though, is this: which journals are publishing the most on these topics? Most of us in rhetoric and composition assume that if you have a manuscript about Cicero, you send it to Rhetoric Society Quarterly or Rhetoric Review, not to College English, because they don’t publish that kind of thing, generally speaking. But are we sure about that? To what extent? I can now do a frequency count of the journals that are represented in the “classical cicero ancient” topic and make a pie chart showing the breakdown. More on that later.

And Now for Expressivism

For six of the topics, I wasn’t sure what they meant, but I went ahead and labeled them “Expressivism.” Because expressivism doesn’t have an attendant set of terms, and is misunderstood so often and so profoundly as a theory of writing and teaching philosophy, I was interested in seeing what kinds of articles were listed. As it turns out, most of them were actually about literature, or were works of creative writing. But one of them yielded a few interesting bits:

obvious hard easily worth expect surely aware mere doubt simple easy leave idea supposed vague avoid bad respect clear

Most of those, of course, are commonly used words, and I’m not really convinced that this is an “expressivist” topic. Still, I did find these articles, among many others:

Richard K. Redfern, "A Brief Lexicon of Jargon: For Those Who Want to Speak and Write Verbosely and Vaguely", College English, 1967
Donald Murray, “Henry James in the Advanced Composition Course,” 1963 College English
Peter Elbow, "Exploring My Teaching", College English, 1971
Joseph J. Firebaugh, "On being Unacademic", College English, 1946
Geraldine Hammond, "How Gladly Do We Teach?", College English, 1951
Winfield H. Rogers, "Responsibilities of the English Teacher in the Urban University" 1940 College English
J. Mitchell Morse, "Why Write like a College Graduate?" College English, 1970
J. Mitchell Morse, "The Case for Irrelevance", College English, 1968

In reviewing the list of articles associated with this topic, I think I now have a better handle on the sources of the theory some of us call expressivism: certainly it arises from attitudes of respect, concern, and care for students (see Rogers, 1940; Hammond, 1951). But I now see the overlap between expressivist values and the study of literature, as well as the study and practice of creative writing, and descriptive approaches to linguistics*. Those connections should have been obvious, but they weren’t. I can see that as early as 1940, some of the ideas associated with expressivism were in circulation – though certainly some would say that the seeds were planted even earlier, with Fred Newton Scott’s work (see Linda Adler-Kassner’s excellent article “Ownership Revisited” in CCC, 1998). I also think there are many more expressivists than we'd realized, and that a lot of people are/were expressivists but don't/didn't know it. No one is old enough to have witnessed all of this, comprehensively, in real time, and topic modeling is almost like having such a person.

More to come. For now, I’ll say that the best way to grasp the value of topic modeling as a method is to focus on one topic and mine the articles.

* I’m prepared to argue that James Sledd was an expressivist; I think I have a good bit of evidence.

Common Core State Standards (Grades 11-12) Aligned with the WPA Outcomes

In preparation for my CCCC presentation, I did the following alignment of the WPA Outcomes with the Common Core State Standards:

WPA Outcomes Aligned with the Common Core State Standards for ELA Grades 11-12 by Clancy Ratliff

Graduate Seminar on Authorship and Intellectual Property in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

I'm excited to teach this class this semester! I had to leave a lot out (there's so much to read in this area of scholarship), but these are what I selected in the end.

English 556 Syllabus

Framework and WPA Outcomes Aligned

ULL's writing program takes its outcomes from the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition. Disclosure: the program adopted these outcomes in academic year 2005-2006, before I came here, but I have affirmed them. Anyway, I've been thinking for some time about the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing and how to integrate its eight habits of mind into our writing program's outcomes. The habits of mind are pretty difficult to measure, and in trying to evaluate how well students demonstrate them seems highly problematic; I imagine a lot of personal bias coming into play on teachers' part and a TON of student resistance to having, say, their curiosity or responsibility evaluated. Still, I agree that students with these habits of mind will be much more successful than those without them.

So here's my first shot at integrating the outcomes and the habits. I took our outcomes, matched each one up with one or two habits I thought worked best with it, and then, in the far right column of the table below, I have an explanation of how that habit of mind (or those habits) could be demonstrated in the context of a writing course.

Habits and Outcomes Aligned

Obviously, this is only one of many ways these can be matched, and really, each of these outcomes requires all the habits of mind.

Tenure and Promotion Portfolio

I've created an online portfolio of most of the work I've done the last several years for my tenure/promotion case. I have several revisions and additions already planned, but let me know if you have ideas for how to make it better.

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