Discord and Direction: The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator

Discord and Direction: The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator

Discord and Direction: The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator

Discord and Direction: The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator

Excerpt

At worst, postmodernism appears to be a mysterious, if ubiquitous,
ingredientlike raspberry vinegar, which instantly turns any recipe into nouvelle cuisine.

—Ihab Hassan

CONTENDING WITH THE POSTMODERN

A cliché in academe generally and English departments particularly, postmodernism has come to characterize nearly every facet of contemporary life from Architecture, art, and film to feminism, music, lifestyles, photography, and popular culture. One day soon, we suspect, we might even find that someone has constructed a Zoo labeled “postmodern.” Given such a ubiquitous term, we need to clarify exactly what parts of the term “postmodern” we focus on in this collection and explain why we use the term in conjunction with the work of Writing Program Administrators (WPAs) today.

Ihab Hassan jokes above about what overusing the term “postmodernism,” at worst, can come to. Postmodernism, by its very nature, defies easy description. Hassan, however, tries to pin down some of its characteristics when he says that “postmodernism … remains, at best, an equivocal concept, a disjunctive category, doubly modified by the impetus of the phenomenon itself and by the shifting perceptions of its critics” (1987, 173). He constructs a two-column chart juxtaposing postmodernism and modernism, the movement it reacts against (see appendix). This schema has helped composition scholars like Lester Faigley to envision their field in relation to the two movements. Faigley argues that composition studies itself sides more with modernism than postmodernism in the ways that most writing instructors have conceived of “good” student texts. He draws on Hassan’s list of modern and postmodern oppositions to illustrate his point that modernist qualities such as “romanticism, form (conjunctive, closed), purpose, design, hierarchy . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.