Abstracts

English

LeCourt, D. (1996. Composition's Theoretical Irony: WAC as Uncritical Pedagogy. Journal of Advanced Composition, 16(3), 389-406.

This paper argues that writing across the curriculum has failed to consider how its practices and theories serve to inscribe students within normalized discourses. As scholars such as Susan McLeod, Anne Herrington and Charles Moran begin to re-think the way writing-across-the-curriculum programs have situated themselves within composition theory, an intriguing disparity has presented itself between writing-to-learn and learning-to-write. As McLeod points out, these two approaches to WAC, which she designates the "cognitive" and the "rhetorical," respectively, exist in most programs simultaneously despite their radically different epistemological assumptions. This paper suggests, however, that despite the two approaches' seeming epistemological differences, they work toward a similar goal: the accommodation or inscription of (student) subjects into the various disciplinary strands of academic discourse. From a poststructural perspective, the goals of both these models function as a coherent technology of subject production. Writing to learn exercises provide a discursive space in which students learn to write themselves as subjects of the discourse, using the writing space to "practice" an integration of self with a disciplinary subjectivity. The rhetorical model reinforces such an integration even more strongly, providing explicit instruction in how the discursive subject must write herself in order to produce "effective" prose which mirrors the texts of other "speaking" subjects of the discourse. In sum, both approaches to WAC are subject to the same description and critique of how academic discourse seeks to inscribe students as subjects that has been forged against composition instruction in English departments (e.g., Schilb, Clifford, Faigley). Ironically, in WAC, we have presumed a clear mission for writing instruction that is not nearly so evident in our own approach to advanced literacy. The paper concludes, then, by offering yet a third model of WAC, one which suggests that students, as well as their instructors, engage in the investigative process of discovering how discursive conventions relate to their discipline's epistemology and consider how that connection limits what can be said or thought within that discourse.

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Introduction