Dangerous Writing: Understanding the Political Economy of Composition

By Tony Scott | Go to book overview

2
WRITING THE PROGRAM
The Genre Function of the Writing Textbook

As a political philosophy, neoliberalism construes a rationale for a
handful of private interests to control as much of social life as possible
to maximize their financial investments. Unrestricted by legislation or
government regulation, market relations as they define the economy are
viewed as a paradigm for democracy itself. Central to neoliberal philoso-
phy is the claim that the development of all aspects of society should be
left to the wisdom of the market.

Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux

This year, like every year, textbook publishers sponsored a book fair and free lunch in my department. Eerily polite and deferential book reps from the major publishers displayed large stacks of texts. While some literary anthologies were among the offerings, the vast majority were textbooks for writing classes, and the annual event is intended primarily for first-year writing staff. Indeed, the reps pay the writing program a fee in order to participate; with the stacks of textbooks, the business cards, and the smiles come free sandwiches and sodas. This event has become an entrenched part of the general scene in my department, coming with the same mundane regularity as the Christmas party and factional squabbling. It is also remarkably different from the other regular happenings in the department because it directly integrates private industry and marketing into the fabric of the departmental culture and work. Publishers make their presence felt in a host of other ways, such as by sending out free textbooks and e-mails that advertise particular books and soliciting paid reviews. A few publishers are now sponsoring research in the field, and publishers are ubiquitous at the annual College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference. In fact, major events at each conference are sponsored by the publishers and have become deeply ingrained in conference cultures. At the CCCC, meetings with free food and alcohol at publishers' parties are a regular part of the established routines of conference goers. At the NCTE

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Dangerous Writing: Understanding the Political Economy of Composition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Embodying the Social in Writing Education 1
  • 1: Professionals and Bureaucrats 36
  • 2: Writing the Program - The Genre Function of the Writing Textbook 60
  • 3: How “social” Is Social Class Identification? 108
  • 4: Students Working 131
  • 5: Writing Dangerously 180
  • Appendix A - Initial Questions 191
  • Appendix B - Code List 192
  • References 193
  • Index 200
  • About the Author 203
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