Ethical Issues in College Writing

Ethical Issues in College Writing

Ethical Issues in College Writing

Ethical Issues in College Writing


"Ethical Issues in College Writing is the first systematic, book-length exploration of ethics in college writing. It includes essays by many of the most respected scholars in the field. The book should be of interest to writing teachers at universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical colleges across the country." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


David Bleich

This book is about how faculty members in English and in writing, after a long drink of identity politics and social construction, are broaching a subject that reconsiders individual subjectivity in the context of the social and political awareness painfully established in our curricula. Sometimes the essays will imply that ethics is a new accent given as a substitute for the existing ones; but that is not the case. the subject of ethics is broached in this volume as an addition-for-today to the discussions about writing that have gone on for generations. I offer this caution only because of my fear of academic habits: when a new accent appears, too many people treat it as “the answer.”

I direct readers immediately to James Comas's citation of the academic “stock market” (first formulated by Northrop Frye, with different elements):

. . . the key terms of composition studies boom and crash in an imaginary stock exchange; `social constructionism,' for example, has reached its peak and has begun to taper off; `hypertext' and `webbed' classrooms may be in for a slight flutter; but the `political' stocks are still bearish while `ethics' appears to be a good short-term investment it is not yet clear whether its performance is likely to continue into the long-term. Perhaps . . . ethics will [experience an] . . . unprecedented explosion in growth; or perhaps . . . we are witnessing . . . only an `irrational exuberance.' (76-77)

Neither Frye nor we think our interests vary with the same unpredictable movements as the stock market; nor do most of us think the term “capital” is more than a cute metaphor, which Comas also discusses in regard to cultural, political, and professional value. Comas's use of this figure in his approach to the work of Kenneth Burke sounds the change from 1957 to 1997. the West's victory in the cold war has given market and capital vocabulary (thinking, discourse, or rheto-

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