Monday, January 25, 2010

178. TOC College English, Vol. 72, No. 3, January 2010

Lone Wolf or Leader of the Pack?: Rethinking the Grand Narrative of Fred Newton Scott
Lisa Mastrangelo

Chaucer’s Haunted Aesthetics: Mimesis and Trauma in Troilus and Criseyde
Patricia Clare Ingham

Reconsiderations: We Got the Wrong Gal: Rethinking the “Bad” Academic Writing of Judith Butler
Cathy Birkenstein

Opinion: Writing for the Public
Mike Rose

Review: Is This Where You Live? English and the University under the Lens
Thomas Rickert


I wouldn't understand the Chaucer or the Butler critiques if I had (a) all day to read them and (b) Tim Machan on my left and Joshua Gunn on my right to ask for help. But the reclamation of Butler looks important to me.

But the piece on Fred Newton Scott manages to be a contribution both to the history and the historiography of rhetoric. And for those in Communication uninterested in Scott, there are digressions on Lane Cooper, for example, that are fascinating.

The Rickert review essay is important reading for questions of the profession and university, for both Comp and Comm (though admittedly there is a Comp bias). (And thanks to Rickert to calling out the recycling of the essay which claims that rhetoric/composition, by choosing to become a managerial field instead of an intellectual field, calls the storm down upon itself within the university.)

Finally, I paste John Schilb's editor's intro below, because it is useful.


College English has featured many articles about teaching composition to un-
dergraduates. Often, though, it has probed as well our own scholarly writing,
considering why and how we might need to alter our rhetorical moves. The
topic of our discipline’s typical discourse engages three of this issue’s contribu-
tors. Lisa Mastrangelo calls for historians of composition and rhetoric to abandon
“hero” narratives; Cathy Birkenstein traces and defends Judith Butler’s use of classic
argument; and Mike Rose explains how to make our prose more accessible to the
public. Given their focus, I’m newly aware that not all CE readers know the criteria
for judging the journal’s submissions. When the staff and I read a manuscript, we
decide first whether it merits external review. We grapple with a specific set of ques-
tions, which we then pose formally to the referees if we do send the manuscript out:

1. Why do you believe that this subject will or will not interest many readers of College
English? Why do you believe or doubt that nonspecialists would find this article acces-

2. To what extent has previous scholarship on the subject been acknowledged? What ad-
ditions or deletions, if any, would you recommend?

3. What significant ideas does this article add to what we generally know about this subject?
Why do you think future writers on this subject are or are not likely to cite this article?

4. How effective are the style and organization of this article?

5. Which of these actions do you recommend: accept, reject, or revise and resubmit?

Of course, readers of the same text may give different answers. In fact, rarely do their
minds utterly meet. (Sigh.) Still, whether the reviews coincide or diverge, I try to
help the author productively synthesize them. Meanwhile, articles like Mastrangelo’s,
Birkenstein’s, and Rose’s serve as a reminder that the current writing practices of
our discipline—and the standards for judging these—shouldn’t just be fetishized.
Both deserve careful reflection by us all.

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