Tag Archives: narrative

Brooks, Kevin, Kathleen Blake Yancey, and Mark Zachry. “Developing Doctoral Programs in the Corporate University: New Models.” Profession (2002): 89-103. Print.

The authors present a new model for doctoral studies which fuses several (many) traditional courses of study, allowing students to shape their own graduate education according to their degree plans under the scope of a doctorate in Professional Communication. Other programs are skeptical, citing significant overlap with other, already existing programs. The narratives also recount other degree programs’ incredulity at a Department of English offering a doctoral degree in Professional Communication, with the idea that other departments’ specialists were more advanced and better equipped to handle students seeking such a degree.

Literature faculty were also hesitant because of the challenges it would present for faculty relationships and because of the perceived adherence to the corporatization of the academy. In [what is the three letter acronym that signaled a corporate structure in the university???], there were cost-benefit analyses, etc. Buying into all of that by offering a more “practical” degree in Professional Communication was a threat to the old vanguard who still harbor a desire to pursue “true” liberal arts learning as it has been historical defined in Departments of English. So, the narrators ran into a host of problems with the pursuit of these degrees, and each met varying successes and pitfalls along the way.

The schools were Utah (Zachry), Clemson (Yancey), and North Dakota State (Brooks).

A question of mine, with the idea that graduate students would be able to design their own course of study, I jotted “really? who really knows what their degree plans are at the outset of grad school?” A lot do, I understand, but just as many if not more do not. If you look at the narratives of rhetoric and composition scholars (like David Bartholomae does in in Bizzaro’s essay), many weren’t sure exactly what they were getting themselves into at the outset of graduate school.

Possible threads to pick up from: Stephen North’s Refiguring the PhD in English Studies

Profession 1996 Mark A Johnson “asserts that graduates of English doctoral programs can find successful and fulfilling work in corporate America. Rejecting the idea that English departments produce too many doctorates, Johnson suggests that English PhDs have the research, information management, and communication skills that a variety of industries (although predominantly software) value.

Duffey, Suellynn et al. “Conflict, Collaboration, and Authority: Graduate Students and Writing Program Administration.” Rhetoric Review 21.1 (2002): 79-87. Print.

This article offers a narrative of the struggles faced by eight graduate student who were charged with the task of facilitating peer groups of writing instructors in the first year writing program at The Ohio State University under program director Suellynn Duffey. Desiring a collaborative approach, the writers chronicle the challenges to implementing strategies which adhere to the principle of decentering authority but which are still meaningful and productive.

Like Sullivan et. al., who disagree with Crowley’s argument that FYC should be abolished because of its historically disadvantaged institutional position, Duffey et. al. acknowledge that all intellectual activity in the university must take place within its own bureaucratic structure. They point to the need to resist their own “inner-bureaucrat” while fostering collaborative, rather than hierarchal, teaching methods and pedagogies. They write:

Our collaboration as writing program administrators did not and could not escape hierarchy, but our experience does suggest that faculty members and graduate students can, if they choose, engage in collaborative practices. Such an engagement allows for a transformation of, rather than a resistance to, our inner bureaucrats. (85)

The refusal to submit to their inner-bureaucrats, who demanded clear authority, and immediately identifiable results was borne of a realization by the TA facilitators that they had to model the kind of “collaborative, critical pedagogy that [they] espoused… [and] resist adopting the directive authority that many TAs believed they needed” (83).


Duffey, Suellynn et al. “Conflict, Collaboration, and Authority: Graduate Students and Writing Program Administration.” Rhetoric Review 21.1 (2002): 79-87. Print.

Harris, Muriel. “Centering in on Professional Choices.” College Composition and Communication 52.3 (2001): 429-440. Print.

Harris begins this article with some speculation on how people find themselves in their particular positions, asking “Do we choose our special areas of professional interest and research within the larger world of composition, or do they choose us?” (430). She acknowledges the material constraints that are at play when pursuing employment, but she also suggests that individuals’ predilections toward certain pedagogies guide them into niches in the field.

Through her narrative of how she became involved in the Writing Lab at Purdue, she outlines the particular rewards of Writing Center work and contrasts them to the demands of teaching composition. For Harris, working in the WC offers the opportunity to help students in ways that are difficult or impossible to do when charged with the task of assisting (and grading) a large number of students. In the low-pressure environ of the Writing Lab, Harris and her tutors are able to provide students with non-evaluative advice and guidance in a non-hierarchal atmosphere.

She emphasizes that when she was starting out, like many of her colleagues, they were “constructing a violin while playing it” (432). She discusses the advances made in writing center pedagogy and tutoring theory made as participants collaborated in a student-centered exploration of what worked and what didn’t. The article discusses many practices now common in writing center pedagogy and extols the benefits of these low-stakes centers for writing and learning.

Harris also addresses the downsides of writing center work, acknowledging that some of the problems inherent to the job are enough to “cause deep depression and possible paranoia as well” (437). She argues that “to run a writing lab, a director needs to be able to conduct local or institutional research” (437), but concedes that it will take some time “for academia to acknowledge” this reality. Her work here primarily aims to offer a brief historical account of how writing centers got off the ground and to describe how they currently function; to illuminate present pedagogies found in writing center practice; and to make a case for the viability of the writing center as a vehicle that can “help envision alternative forms of writing instruction” (439).


Harris, Muriel. “Centering in on Professional Choices.” College Composition and Communication 52.3 (2001): 429-440. Print.