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MOOCs, the Teaching of Writing, and Academic Labor

Originally published in the newsletter of the Oswego chapter of UUP:

Writing program administrators often joke that class sizes in first-year writing courses have more to do with US News and World Report – which defines “small” classes in its college rankings as those enrolling fewer than 20 students – than with all the impassioned arguments and eloquent resolutions of the field’s scholars and professional organizations on class size and workload over the years.  And indeed, many institutions did lower the caps in their first-year writing courses to 19 as college and university ranking indexes became really visible and influential in the 1990s, pretty much on cue. Continue reading MOOCs, the Teaching of Writing, and Academic Labor

The Unsustainable Economy of Composition and A Cattle Call to Action: to define some problems with composition in the 21st century

Paper delivered by Arabella Lyon, at SUNY COW 2012 (University at Buffalo)

As a political philosophy, neoliberalism construes a rational for a handful of private interests to control as much of social life as possible to maximize their financial investments.

        Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searle Giroux,  Take Back Higher Education

In the 1990’s Susan Miller and Sharon Crowley wrote tellingly about the economics and politics of composition, but in the last decade, the problems of sad women in the basement have grown dire and the arguments about student needs sometimes have been abandoned for those about faculty needs.  Even as recently as 2005, Doug Hesse could suggest in his 4 C’s chair’s address that   “those who teach writing must affirm that we, in fact, own it”(459; emphasis in original). Right now, however, the issues in higher education no longer seemed based in institutional economies dependent on student needs, and faculty seems to have lost a position from which to refute the U.S. commissions and forces who would take writing away from writing teachers.  Now our problems are transparently part of a pattern of global capitalism, a pattern that erodes the pretense that faculty own writing. There can be no pretense of first year writing’s sustainability based on historical models of writing instruction….

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This Course is Your Course, This Field is My Field: On Sustainability, Economic and Intellectual

Paper delivered by Michael Murphy (SUNY Oswego) at SUNY COW 2012

In a reflection last year on the controversial 2007 Report of the ADE Ad Hoc Committee on Staffing called “Education in the Balance,” David Bartholomae, the Committee Chair, noted a development which most observers of staffing trends in higher education likely found interesting though perhaps not wholly surprising:

[figures p.10-11]

The data we gathered shows, among other things, an increase in the number of full time, non-tenure-track faculty members–and not only in PhD and Masters granting institutions but in baccalaureate colleges as well.  In order to justify the resources needed for an increasingly expensive research faculty (and, perhaps, as an attempt to improve the working conditions of part-time faculty members), institutions have shown their willingness to create full time teaching positions outside the tenure track, with competitive salaries, full benefits, and increased job security.  (1)

To see this development born out in survey data was more to confirm an ear-to-the-ground instinct than to suggest anything really revelatory….

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