The Changing of Knowledge in Composition: Contemporary Perspectives

The Changing of Knowledge in Composition: Contemporary Perspectives

The Changing of Knowledge in Composition: Contemporary Perspectives

The Changing of Knowledge in Composition: Contemporary Perspectives

Excerpt

Making Knowledge in Composition Then, Now,
and in the Future

Lance Massey

Richard C. Gebhardt

Two ideas motivated this project from the beginning of our collaboration on it. On one hand, we have worked to develop a book that revisits Stephen North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition: Portrait of an Emerging Field (MKC) nearly twenty-five years after its publication in 1987. On the other hand, we want to use this retrospective orientation as an occasion for trying to make sense of the ways knowledge making has (or hasn’t) changed in the years since the publication of North’s controversial and, by most accounts, influential book, and how it might change in the future. Consequently, this volume is not a festschrift, nor is it merely a critical reexamination of an aging canonical text. The call for chapter proposals, rather, invited “works that critically reassess such things as MKCs influence/impact, rhetoric, aims, and values—with an eye toward using such reassessments to comment on the present and future of composition studies.” A talented and diverse group of scholars responded to that call, allowing us to offer you a collection that uses North’s book as a framing context within which to explore the methodological, theoretical, and institutional currents of composition’s recent evolution and to anticipate future developments for the field.

And what better time for such a collection? Just as MKC was published at what was arguably a watershed moment in composition—the field’s transition from an essentially modern to an essentially postmodern discipline (see Lance Massey’s chapter in this volume)—we now find ourselves on the brink of what may become an equally paradigmatic shift, as we hear ever more calls to replace traditional composition and the pedagogical imperative that term has long implied with a writing studies model devoted to the study of writing as a fundamental tool of and force within . . .

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