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2012 September College English, v75.1

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Level(s): College

ISBN/ISSN: 0010-0994


College English
Volume 75, Number 1, September 2012

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From the Editor
Kelly Ritter

Emerging Voices: The Shifting Rhetorics of Style: Writing in Action in Modern Rhetoric
Tara Lockhart
Abstract: This article excavates how style in writing was represented and taught in the under-investigated mid-twentieth century. I trace four editions of the textbook Modern Rhetoric (1949–1979), authored by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren; I detail how the book was surprisingly innovative for the time, despite its eventual re-entrenchment to a more conservative approach. I argue that the teaching of style serves as a marker of the tensions between disciplines and pedagogical approaches, changing views of students, and competing cultural demands.

The Trouble with Outcomes: Pragmatic Inquiry and Educational Aims
Chris W. Gallagher
Abstract: Although outcomes assessment (OA) has become “common sense” in higher education, this article shows that the concept of outcomes tends to limit and compromise teaching and learning while serving the interests of institutional management. By contrast, the pragmatic concept of consequences tends to expand our view of teaching and learning, and contests the technical rationality of the managerial university. Though I challenge outcomes assessment, I recognize that OA is the coin of the educational realm. Therefore, this article outlines ways to frame and use educational aims to minimize the negative tendencies of outcomes assessment and to maximize the positive tendencies of “consequential assessment.”

“No cross, no crown”: An Ethos of Presence in Margaret Prior’s Walks of Usefulness
Lisa Shaver
Abstract: In 1837, Margaret Prior became the first female missionary for the American Female Moral Reform Society. She traveled throughout the poorest neighborhoods in New York City—entering barrooms, brothels, and sickrooms. Based on an analysis of Prior’s missionary reports, published in the society’s periodical and included in her memoir, this essay shows how Prior exerted an ethos of presence. Her willingness to traverse the seediest sections of the city, call on any person, and address any need exerted a powerful ethos in the communities she served and among the audiences who read and heard about her efforts.

J. Hillis Miller’s Virtual Reality of Reading
Kurt Fosso and Jerry Harp
Abstract: We set out to investigate Miller’s curious assertion—curious for a deconstructionist committed to a critique of the old metaphysics of presence—that literary works preexist their being written down. We find a basis for this sense of the preexistence of the literary work in Miller’s insights about the performative dynamics of reading and writing. We thus examine Miller’s intuition about the preexistence of the literary text in terms of language as a shifting structure that interpenetrates and always exceeds the writer’s and the readers’ minds, of the meta-awareness implicit in the dependence of the mimetic on self-referentiality, and of the relationship between the literary realm of the virtual and Derrida’s idea of the future anterior. As Miller’s insights into the performative act of reading disclose, the literary work exists among all of its possibilities of negotiation, interpretation, conjuration, and understanding. The intuition of the literary work’s preexistence thus relates to a sense of actuality as always a matter of interpretation and negotiation, rather than as simply a collection of facts.

Review: Looking Locally, Seeing Nationally in the History of Composition
Lisa Mastrangelo and Wendy Sharer

Books reviewed in this article: The Evolution of College English: Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns by Thomas Miller; From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957-1974 by David Fleming; Interests and Opportunities: Race, Racism, and University Writing Instruction in the Post-Civil Rights Era by Steve Lamos.

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