There Can Only Be Five

Yesterday an MFA student considering a PhD in R/C asked me for a short list of articles to introduce her to R/C. She has been accepted to several strong programs, but is debating between pursuing R/C or Creative Writing Studies. I came up with a list of five:

  1. "The Politics of Historiography: Octalog"
  2. Hairston, Maxine. "The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Revolution in the Teaching of Writing"
  3. Worsham, Lynn. "The Question Concerning Invention: Hermeneutics and the Genesis of Writing"
  4. Corder, Jim W. “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love”
  5. Yancey, Kathleen. "Writing in the 21st Century"

My idea was that articles 1 and 2 would give an idea of the goals, obligations, purposes of rhetoric/composition, article 3 provides an example of how critical theory can interrupt those goals, article 4 represents Burkian rhetoric and an engaged response to the cliched Platonic "rhetoric is unethical" argument, and article 5 suggests the directions the field will be attending to over the next decade.

So, how did I do? Anyone propose a swap? (Don't add anything without taking something out please). What are other people's lists for five significant essays to introduce someone to the scope of Rhetoric and Composition?

And, if I could add a sixth, it would be Jarratt's "The First Sophists and Feminism." But decisions had to be made.


Mark said...

As an MFA, I think that Walter Ong essay we read in mentor group, "Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought" had the biggest influence on me. The first chapter of Plague of Fantasies was also an eye-opener. Neither are strictly R/C though, I suppose.

Oh, and Jim Berlin's "Rhetorics, Poetics and Culture" but that's a whole book.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I really like that Ong essay, too. Its one of my fundamentals. If I had to cut one to fit it in, it would likely be the Hairston. Zizek is a bit outside the range, even if it is a great introduction to how psychoanalysis and cultural studies (his particular approach, anyways) can bear on rhetoric.

Berlin is one of the speakers in the Octalog essay, and he makes the argument of his later book pretty strongly there.


Khakjaan Wessington said...

I love that you think there's such a thing as 'pro-tips' for rhetoric and composition. The notion is asinine. I could argue that it's constructivist and prescriptive in nature and I could also argue that it ignores the Popper-esque style with which people learn (what not to do), but I'll just say you're full of yourself (and if this is moderated, too chicken to post the comment) and inclined to suggest something other than Milton or Cicero.

Verse done correctly at http://toylit.blogspot.com

Insignificant Wrangler said...

Well, Khakjaan, nice of you to dismiss an entire discipline in one sweeping gesture.

I will simply say that if you bothered to read a single article on the list, you would see that rhetorical scholarship works against the "constructivist" and "proscriptive" heritage writing instruction inherited from teaching writing in the late 19th century.

Thanks for playing.

Mxrk said...

Well, I found his unique point of view challenging and refreshing. No one ever complains about things being "prescriptive" and "constructivist." Wow, I'm going to live a better life from now on. Do you perhaps have any literature I could purchase?

I wouldn't let this boob link to his own site, though, where he IS selling books of his rhyming poetry (what?). If someone wants to advertise on your blog they should pay you, not pretend to be involved in the conversation.

And did he just call you a chicken? I liked this movie better when it was called Back to the Future and the douchebag bully ended up covered in books of rhyming poetry. Oh wait.