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Francis, Toni P.
Identity politics :
b postcolonial theory and writing program instruction
h [electronic resource] /
by Toni P. Francis.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: In this dissertation I intend to apply postcolonial theory to primary pedagogical and administrative concerns of the writing program administrator. Writing Program Administrators, or WPAs, take their responsibilities seriously, remaining cognizant of both the negative and positive repercussions of the pedagogical decisions that take shape in the scores of composition classrooms they administer. This dissertation intends to infuse the WPA position with the ethos of scholarly praxis by historicizing and contextualizing the field of composition, and by placing the teaching of writing within the historical memory of slavery and colonialism. Sound WPA research is theoretically informed, systematic, principled inquiry that works toward producing strong writing programs. This dissertation provides such inquiry, drawing the field's attention to the reality of postcoloniality and presenting an understanding of the work of composition as informed by and complicit in the history of racialized forms of oppression. From this context, the dissertation analyzes three major issues faced by the WPA: the debate over standardized discourse, the influence of the job market on pedagogical decisions, and the (de)politicizing of the composition classroom. In the following sections, these issues will be related directly to critical theories from postcolonial and composition studies that assist in articulating the issues of identity politics, hegemonic struggle, interpellation and interpolation, subaltern voice, and hybridity that are so crucial to writing program pedagogy and administration in the postcolonial age, for it is my argument that the writing classroom is a crucial site of contention in which the politics of identity are manifested as students appropriate and are appropriated by discourse.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
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Advisor: Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Identity Politics: Postcolonial Theory and Writing Instruction by Toni P. Francis A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: Debra Jacobs, Ph.D. Co-Major Professor: Gary A. Olson, Ph.D. Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D. Shirley Toland-Dix, Ph.D. Date of Approval: July 10, 2007 Keywords: Discourse Community, literacy, dialect studies, appropriation, pedagogy @ Copyright 2007, Toni Francis
Dedication This dissertation is dedicated to my grandmother, Mactille Darroux, and to my father, Eustace Francis. May their memories always fill me with purpose.
Acknowledgements This dissertation would not have been po ssible without the dedicated mentorship of Dr. Debra Jacobs, whose kind and suppor tive editorial assistance went above and beyond my already lofty expectations. I am also indebted to my husband Rafael deComas, and my two children Makeda and Fidel, as well as my Mother, Rita Grey; their love and support gave me the strength and the resources to complete this lengthy and time-consuming project. Rick Michaels, Esq., who donated my first computer, deserves special recognition as well.
i Table of Contents Abstract iii Postcolonial Theory and the Field of Rhet oric and 1 Postcoloniality: A term in Contention 5 Postcolonial Transformation 8 Postcoloniality and the United States 13 Postcoloniality and American Education 16 America the Postcolony 21 Postcolonial Theory and Hegemonic Struggle 23 Constructing the Counterhegemony 28 Identity Politics and Writing Instruction 35 Identity and Subjectivity 36 Subjectivity and Racialized Iden tity 37 Identity and Postcoloniality 41 Language and Interpellation 43 Interpolation and Contradiscourse 50 Discourse Appropriation 56 Discourse Communities and Language War 56 Discourse Appropriation as Linguistic Colonialism 68 Colonization and Identity Politics in Writing Programs 74
ii The Writing Program Administrator 81 Postcolonial Approaches to WPA Work 82 Challenge 1: StudentsÂ’ Right to th eir Own Language 88 Challenge 2: Market Pressures on Writing Programs 102 Challenge 3: (De)Politicizing Writing Instruction 113 The Promise of Post colonial Work in Writing Program Administration 139 Works Cited 143 About the Author End Page
iii Identity Politics: Postcolonial Theory and Writing Instruction Toni P. Francis ABSTRACT In this dissertation I intend to apply postcolonial theory to primary pedagogical and administrative concerns of the writi ng program administrator. Writing Program Administrators, or WPAs, take their respons ibilities serious ly, remaining cognizant of both the negative and positive repercussions of the pedagogical decisions that take shape in the scores of composition classrooms they administer. This di ssertation intends to infuse the WPA position with the ethos of scholarly praxis by historicizing and contextualizing the field of composition, and by placing the teaching of writing within the historical memory of slavery and colonial ism. Sound WPA research is theoretically informed, systematic, principled inquiry that works toward producing strong writing programs. This dissertation provides such i nquiry, drawing the fiel dÂ’s attention to the reality of postcoloniality and presenting an understanding of the work of composition as informed by and complicit in the history of racialized forms of oppression. From this context, the dissertation analyzes three major issues faced by the WPA: the debate over standardized discourse, the influence of th e job market on pedagogical decisions, and the (de)politicizing of the composition classroom. In the following sections, these issues will be related directly to critical theories fr om postcolonial and co mposition studies that assist in articulating the issues of identity po litics, hegemonic struggle, interpellation and
iv interpolation, subaltern voice, and hybridit y that are so crucial to writing program pedagogy and administration in the postcoloni al age, for it is my argument that the writing classroom is a crucial site of contention in which the politics of identity are manifested as students appropriate and are appropriated by discourse.
1 Chapter One: Postcolonial Theory and the Field of Rhetoric and Composition Every writing pedagogy is situated with in a theoretical framework, whether overtly or covertly so. While politically covert pedagogies may attempt to avoid infusing their classrooms with particular theories, what often happens as a result is that they infuse their classrooms with a kind of theory fear, and theory avoidance becomes the covert ideology. Students learn from thei r teachers, and particularly from their writing teachers; if David Bartholomae is correct, they appropr iate and are appropriated by ideologies as they attempt to acquire discourses and re produce them in the classroom setting. This notion of appropriation is of cr ucial significance to writing pedagogy. If, indeed, the business of writing instruction is the business of appropriation, then the writing instructor has a great re sponsibility. It could be said that the writin g instructor, and the writing pedagogy, serves to construc t the identities the students appropriate. Some crucial questions arise from the no tion of appropriation. Significantly, in more recent treatments of appropriation in postcol onial and Marxist theory, this issue has spurned debates about the role of language in the construction of identity. Questions of identity appropriation cannot be answered from a position of theory avoidance. Theory can help writing instructors to analyze more closely the cultural, so cial, professional, and scientific identity constructs that they expect their students to simulate. The subject of simulation, of course, is a weighty one steeped in the mysterious nature of writing pedagogy. Recent writing asse ssment theory attests to the difficulty of
2 delineating exactly what writing instruct ors are looking for when examining and evaluating writing (White, Gerrar d). Mechanical elements certainly are the easiest to codify, rubricize, systematize, and technol ogize; however, the rhet orical and critical elements of academic discourse are far more challenging to taxonomize, more political to publicize, and more damaging to ignore. I co ntend that a writing pedagogy that embraces theory will do more for students than one that ignores it. Ideology is at work all the time, whether we want it to be or not. What writ ing instructors need is writing pedagogies informed by theories that draw attention to this issue of appropria tion and its relation to the teaching of writing. Postcolonial theory is one viewpoint th at can effectively inform writing pedagogy because postcolonialism fosters inquiry on and analysis of this matter of appropriation and allows for an historical as well as peda gogical perspective on the issue. The critical lens of postcolonialism allows compositionists to maintain a historical perspective, to embrace rather than reject the problematic past, and subsequently to recognize the weaknesses of the inherited discourse of co lonialism, which include our historical tendencies toward oppressive and ofte n genocidal extremes. Ultimately, the postcolonialist perspective allows compositioni st the ability to shift the paradigms of traditional practice toward a more generative alternative to neocolonialism. In the following chapters, postcolonial theory provide s a useful analysis of the role language plays in the perpetuation of hegemonic dominan ce, as well as in the hegemonic efforts to challenge and to reconf igure power relations. Because postcolonial theory relates language use to historically produced forms of power, postcolonial studies politic izes language instruction in ways that urge responsible
3 writing program administrators to reconsider current/traditional pedagogical positions. Postcolonialism poses some overwhelmingly difficult challenges to writing program administrators. These challenges require a reconfiguration of power relationships both pedagogical and administrative; a reevaluati on of the historically -produced foundations of standardization; as well as a return to the difficult exercise of determining what exactly are the goals and outcomes of effective writ ing instruction and how and by whom should these goals be determined. The following chap ters of this dissertation will present three such challenges, each time offering postcol onial theory as a useful resource for addressing problems in writing programs. This fi rst chapter, Â“Postcolonial Theory and the Field of Rhetoric and Com position,Â” provides an overview of postcoloniality and its relation to language and language appropriation. In this chapter, I define the postcolonia l condition by historicizing the discipline of postcolonial studies. I relate postcolonia lity to the history of the United States by defining some of the primary voices of th e African American rhetorical canon as postcolonial theorists and by presenting tr eatments of America as the postcolony. In addition, I introduce hegemonic struggle as a pr imary concern of postcolonial theorists, noting the difficulty with which theorists gra pple with voicing the cares of the oppressed in the language of the oppressor. Chapter 2 applies the prevailing postcolonial concept of identity as discursively constructed, and extends the implications of this concept by distinguishing between AthusserÂ’s notion of interpellation, wherein su bjects are hailed into repressive power structures, and AshcroftÂ’s noti on of interpolation, wherein su bjects seize the discourse of power and systematically dismantle the structur es of dominance. I also consider the ways
4 in which appropriating a discour se may be detrimental to a studentÂ’s original discourse and discourse community. In Chapter 3, I examine the attempts made by compositionists to define and defend discourse communities. I also analy ze new rhetoriciansÂ’ approaches to the problematic charges of race and ethnicity bias in writing instruction. I argue that, given the connections between language and ideol ogy, as well as language and identity, the teaching of writing involves a manipulation of studentsÂ’ identities that is in many ways political. I also contend that it is the responsibility of the WPA to respond to the identity politics at play in language programs. In the final chapter, postcolonial theory serves as a useful resource for attending to three major challenges the WPA must face: the resolution for StudentÂ’s Right to their Own Languages, the pressure by the corporat e marketplace to determine the goals of writing instruction, and the effo rts by those inside and outside of English departments to construct the writing classroom as a politically-free arena. Throughout the dissertation, but particularly in these chapters, I insist th at, whether in relation to culture, subjectivity, profession, or class, identity appropriation poses a central concern for writing program administrators that is directly relevant to a ll the challenges presented. I also argue that is impossible to address fully the breadth of the appropriation issue while ignoring the politics involved in language instruction. It is my conten tion that postcolonial theory assists compositionists in embracing the political weight of the role of the Writing Program Administrator.
5 POSTCOLONIALITY: A TERM IN CONTENTION The term Â“postcolonialÂ” or Â“post-col onialÂ” has come to be so in vogue among critical theorists that it is difficult to pin down a single meaning of the term. This difficulty is not one that cri tical theorists consider a problem, In fact, in many ways a floating signifier, the term Â“postcolonialÂ” is embraced by theorists who shun attempts to package their innovative and of ten subversive challenges to traditional conceptions of reality. Critical theorists are se lf-reflective, discursively prepared to respond to the many arguments for retaining traditional and often ahistorical and apolitical approaches to economic, social and pedagogica l structures of power. Ania Loomba is a leading postcolonial th eorist who has produced some of the most enlightening analyses of postcolonial i ssues in the Early Modern period. Loomba is also the editor of one of the most prominen t and most interdisciplinary postcolonial anthologies produced of late. Loomba believ es that the diversity of approaches to postcolonial studies is often attributed to its diasporic space. From this space emerges Â“separate historical trajectories of conque st and resistanceÂ” that consequently yield alternative and sometimes conflicting critique s of western imperia lism and processes of neocolonialism. Additionally, disciplinary f oundations and emerging theories attaining prominence in disciplinary fields also influe nce the shape that postc olonial studies takes. Postcolonial studies includes multiple critiques of colonial residual practices, discursive transactions, textual producti ons, ideologies, economies and political policies produced in an Â“array of area studies, each with a differi ng sense of its place within (or angle of remove from) the prevailing conceptions of the postcolonial (Loomba, et al 6).Â”
6 LoombaÂ’s work is important because it represents the multitude of methods and approaches that fall under the disciplinary um brella of postcolonial studies. LoombaÂ’s coedited anthology is an example of the myri ad approaches to an d applications of postcolonial theory in the academy. At the same time, the collection reveals those aspects of postcolonial studies that make it an in tegrated theoretical methodology. As Loomba notes, Â“Although the volume reflects a range of views and attitudes, many of its contributors find common cause by reasse rting the importance of the oppositional political energies that originally animated decolonizing intellectuals the world over in the twentieth centuryÂ” (5). This oppositional politics can be f ound in general treatments of postcolonial studies. Typically, Â“postcolonialÂ” refe rs to concepts, critiques, a nd analyses that reject and attempt to reconfigure or transform thos e realities produced through the historical mechanism of colonialism. Â“P ostcolonialÂ” can refer to a cr itique of colonialism, a rejection of colonialism, or at times simply the recognition that one cannot exist outside of the structures that colonialism has set in to place, though this is rarely regarded as a simple matter. Deepika Bahri and Couze Venn provide divergent metaphors for postcoloniality that illustrate the breadth of possibility in this signifier. Bahri, whose work on the politics of rhetor ic applies postcolonial theori es to rhetorical education considers postcolonialism in spatial terms, where the Â“postcolonialismÂ” refers to a moment of Â“emblematically philosophic rupt ure with European modernityÂ” (74). Couze Venn, whose critiques of modernity and O ccidentalism focus strongly on identity, believes Â“postcolonialÂ” refers to a Â“virtual space, a space of possibility and emergence [
7 Â… ] a potential becoming,Â” where postcoloni alism becomes a doorway Â“towards a future that will not repeat existing forms of soci ality and oppressive power relationsÂ” (190). Bahri in particular provides a plethora of metaphors for postcolonialism: Â“it is a moment, a movement, a method, a messa ge, a mirage, a misnomer.Â” Although, alliteration aside, this list is rather dizzyi ng, it reveals the contrari ness of postcoloniality, by nature anti-foundational due to its tenet of social transformation, yet consistent in its agenda, allowing for a number of possible m eans by which to achieve the transformation of colonial forms of domination. Bahri expl ains that postcolonialism is a misnomer because, Â“the colonial movement repeatsÂ” making Â“postÂ” somewhat suspect (74). Perhaps if we actually attain a temporal as well as spatial post colonialityÂ—that is, if we reconfigure the world in such a way that the ideological traces of the colonial past no longer have any residual signi fying power whatsoeverÂ—then Â“ postcolonialÂ” will also lose its signifying power and we will need a new sign for the times. As of yet, however, post coloniality lies at the tip of the theoristsÂ’ fi ngers, and it is in the stretching to reach it that the work of postcolonial studies is done. The work of postcolonial studies, though varied, always involves this reaching toward an alternative, transformed reality. This reaching, as it is understood, is not a passive reaching, but a proactive probing of any and all means and possibilities that will uncover and uproot the foundations that uphold colonial forms of power and domination long after the official condemnation of its my riad atrocities. According to Bill Ashcroft, who has produced some of the leading scholar ship in postcolonial theory and colonial historicism, the term Â“post-colonialismÂ” was co ined in the historical and political science fields, following World War II. Ashcroft, in many ways the institutional voice of
8 postcolonial studies, argues that at that time the term Â“post-colonialÂ” had a Â“clearly chronological meaning, designa ting the post independence peri od.Â” Ashcroft continues, stating that by the late 1970s postcolonialism had found its wa y into literary criticism, where it was employed to analyze Â“various cultural effects of colonizationÂ” (9). In the developmental stages in the acad emy, Ashcroft argues, postcolonial studies was a methodology used to Â“address the cultu ral production of those societies affected the historical phenomenon of colonialism.Â” W ith this methodology, theorists were able to Â“analyze the many strategies by which col onized societies have engaged imperial discourse.Â” They also strove to Â“study the ways in which many of those strategies are shared by colonized societies, re-emerging in very different political and cultural circumstancesÂ” (7). Such methodology has provided a refreshing in jection of ethical purpose in the academy, insisting on attending to residual colonialism in all disciplinary areas. This move became particularly pervas ive following Edward SaidÂ’s critique of Orientalism, the academic discipline Said ma kes largely responsible for the wholesale construction of the nonwestern world as Other. POSTCOLONIAL TRANSFORMATION SaidÂ’s probing into the historical forma tion of this academic discipline laid bare the unsavory relationship between colonialis t powerÂ—with its ideology of European supremacyÂ—and disciplinary knowledgeÂ—with its specious pretences at objectivity. In response to the unrelenting onslaught of ev idence proving that the knowledge produced in the academy is far from objective, academic disciplines have been made to acknowledge that they are steeped in th e ideological underpin nings of their own
9 historical, economic, and social contexts. As a result, strong academic programs have chosen to consider strongly their own postcolonial contexts and to construct methodological practices that are informed by the kinds of critiques of Eurocentrism and neocolonialism that postcolonial studies prov ides. But postcolonialism is not merely a defense against charges of neocolonialism. Po stcolonial studies, for many, is a means by which to engage academic disciplines in the intellectual movement of reformulating and transforming the very patterns of life. According to Bahri, Â“postcolonialismÂ’s facility in engaging questions of transnationality and hybridity co mbined with its engagement with poststructuralism, its rearticulation of the questions of power and knowledge and it s persistent challenge to western modes of thought have all contributed to its success in the academy and to an interest in its relevance to other disciplinesÂ” (71). Vaidehi RamanathanÂ’s scholarship examines the interplay of divisive ideol ogies and analyzes the role of vernacular languages in the postcolonial world. Ramana than believes that it is important in postcolonial studies to Â“revisit, remember and question the colonial past, while simultaneously acknowledging the complex reci procal relationship of antagonism and desire between the colonizer and colonizedÂ” (1 -2). This approach to postcolonial studies is in practice in a variety of manners in th e many disciplinary applic ations of postcolonial theory. In English studies, Gary Olson and Lynn Worsham have co-edited a collection of scholarly articles and interviews on race and rhetoric that illuminate the ways in which postcolonial theorists and rhetor icians have grappled with the intersections of language, rhetoric, and hegemonic struggle. Gary Ols on and other compositionists find postcolonial
10 theory useful for Â“illustrating how colonial impulses come into play between students and teacher as well as between members of diffe rent races and ethnic groups, affecting how learning occurs, or doesnÂ’t, how students rela te to peers and to teachers (Â“EncounteringÂ” 89). Additionally, composition has been highly in fluenced by the work of Paolo Freire, a rhetorician who could arguably be defined as a postcolonial co mpositionist. Drawing much-needed attention to the relationship between writing instruction and the maintenance of oppressive structures of power FreireÂ’s concept of banking education has stressed the importance of language as a key to hegemonic agency. FreireÂ’s work continues to be appreciated in composition, where American Freiristas are challenging traditional notions of teacher authority, stude nt agency, and pedagogical aims as they attempt to empower their students in th eir writing classrooms (Berlin, Giroux, hooks, Lankshear, McLaren, Shor, Villanueva). Concurrent with the growth of postcol onial studies has been a careful and well meaning self-criticism that continues to st rengthen the discipline of postcolonial studies even while seemingly dismantling it. Critics like David Scott and Frederick Cooper have drawn attention to the need for more stringent treatments of history in postcolonial studies and more focus on the overall agenda of postcolonial studies CooperÂ’s historicist approach to empire and col oniality is proactive, search ing out new possibilities for alternatives to neocolonialism in contempor ary social practices. Cooper appreciates the centrality that postcolonial studies places on the colonial past. Cooper, however, is concerned that postcolonialism has Â“tended to obscure the very hist ory whose importance it has highlighted.Â” The historicist wrestles wi th the habit he finds in postcolonial studies of narrowing the colonial experience into a generic period, Â“located somewhere between
11 1492 and the 1970s, which has been given the de cisive role in shaping the postcolonial momentÂ” (401). For Cooper, such Â“gener alization can homogenize too far (as in abstracting coloniality from the lived experien ce of people in colonies).Â” Neither is the opposite likely to be the solution. Â“Demarcatio n,Â” Cooper continues, Â“can be misleading, separating modern empires from those prior or contemporaneous to those of 19th century Western EuropeÂ” (416). What Cooper ultimately calls for is Â“compr ehensive historical analysis,Â” which he believes Â“might help sketch out likely fiel ds of struggle, might help to look for conjunctures where power relations were most vulnerable and to probe limits of power beneath the claims to dominanceÂ” (417). His hop e is to move postcolonial studies out of the abstract realm where Â“inte llectuals condemn the continuati on of invidious distinctions and exploitation and celebrate the proliferation of cultural hybridities and the fracturing of cultural boundariesÂ” (401) Instead of keeping postc olonialism reflective and generalized, Cooper requests an active engage ment with the history of colonialism that makes the practice more productive by focusi ng on specific historical moments in which communities grappled with traditional form s of power. Here, he believes, is where hegemonic forces make themselves known. Coop erÂ’s work is useful when attempting to place American power structures, like educat ion, within the context of postcolonial history and the history of slavery. David Scott, a social constructionist, also provides useful scholarship for reconsidering the inheritances of the colonial world. While acknowledging the difficulties involved in operating outside of historically constructe d dominant forces, ScottÂ’s critiques of modernity envisi on a postcolonial future. Sco tt attempts to reinvigorate
12 postcolonial studies by criti quing the ways in which, having become the new paradigm, postcolonialism seems to have lost its tran sformative edge. Scott wonders Â“whether the historical context of problems that produced th e postcolonial effect as a critical effect has not now altered such that the yield of these que stions is no longer what it was.Â” For Scott, this would mean consequentially that postc olonialism may have Â“lost its point and become normalized as a strategy for the mere accumulation of meaningÂ” (92). Critics such as Scott caution against postcolonial st udies becoming merely another disciplinary apparatus, abandoning its transformative agenda for the fulfillment of the academic status quo. For this reason, Scott warns that, Â“unless we persistently ask what the point is of our investigation of colonialism for the postcoloni al present, [ Â… ] what the argument is in which we are making a move and staking a claim, unless we systematically make this a part of our strategy of inquiry, we are only t oo likely to slide from a criticism of the present to Â‘normalÂ’ social scienceÂ” (399). For these critics, postcolonialism seems at the brink of absorption by academic disciplines that threaten to efface the overt agenda of postcolonial transformation that is at the very heart of the postcolonial projec t while incorporating the general historicist practices of postcolonial studi es. Thus postcolonial studies risks becoming a strategy for Â“investigating the trace of colonial effects in our postcolonial timeÂ” without any cause other than investigation itself For postcolonial theory, i nvestigation, historicism, and inquiry cannot be enough. These intellectual practices must yield change. They must serve to transform those practices that serve to maintain the ideologies and structures of the colonialist project.
13 English Studies is a discipline well in need of the transformative power of postcolonial theory. Long suffering under criti ques of class and race preference, the field of composition would be served well by those rhetoricians willing to apply postcolonial historicism and postcolonial theory to the field of composition. The field needs leaders who recognize rather than ignor e the historical complicity th at English has shared in perpetuating colonial forms of dominan ce. The following chapters address this complicity by linking the composing act with hegemonic struggle, linking discursive practice with social representation, and li nking sound WPA work with historical and political responsibility. POSTCOLONIALITY AND THE UNITED STATES While postcolonialism has a strong foothold in the social and literary theories produced in the New Worlds, America is of ten excluded from its domain in general considerations. Principal voices in the fi eld tend to be located in more obvious postcolonies like those of the Caribbean, wh ere Fanon has contribu ted a solid foundation with his critique of the ideological dangers of white supremacy in the context of the formation of neocolonial worlds. Postcolonialis m is also greatly indebted to Edward Said, whose literary and pedagogical an alyses explore and reveal the ideological underpinnings of white supremacyÂ’s continued sway on the intellectual mind, as well as, of late, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, whose critiques of postcolonial studies have expanded the ways in which postcolonial theorists appro ach the discursive c onstruction of those individuals represented as, amongst other signi fiers, the colonized, the o/Other, or the subaltern. Applications of postc olonial theory in America ar e strong in the discipline of
14 critical race theory as well as in historicist critiques of American education and language policies. America has produced its own legacy of critiques of the colonialist tradition and its normalizing discourses, as well as its ow n theories on the possibility of a world beyond that envisioned in the discourse of colonialism. Frederick DouglassÂ’s many antiabolitionist tracts are receiv ing new attention of late, not for their contribution to antislavery efforts alone, but for the evid ence they provide of early and effective hegemonic interplay between the discourse of slavery and that of a bourgeoning postcolonial discourse. DouglassÂ’ s insistence on a world that rejects the ideologies that would make slavery an acceptable option represents a contradiscourse of American postcolonialism. In addition, rhetoricians and compositionists have recently begun to analyze the extensive African American essayis tic tradition in Ameri ca, another realm in which the dissemination of proto-postcolonial discourse takes place. American rhetoricians of late have disc overed that the African American rhetorical tradition serves as a very useful resource for stimulati ng interest and efficacy in student writing, particularly from students of co lor who have rarely gained acce ss to essays of this kind in their composition cla sses (Logan, Royster). DuBois surely receives the greatest recognition in conceptions of American postcolonialism. DuBoisÂ’s theories on the id entity politics of the post-slavery era in America have been largely influential on a great many postcolonial theorists around the world. DuBoisÂ’s theories, however, are ofte n revised when applied to contemporary social structures. DuBois argues that the cen tral issue for African Americans of the postslavery era is that of identity politics, wh ich he defines as life behind a veil. The
15 realization of oneÂ’s racialized identity is, for Dubois, at once Â“a gi ft, a second sightÂ” and at the same time a Â“double consciousness.Â” The gi ft of second sight a llows the racialized individual a view of the world as the disc ourse of America would paint it, communicated through the rhetoric of liberty and justice. At the same time the second sight is the view of the world of neocolonialism, the underside of AmericaÂ—the world of racial hierarchy. Double consciousness suggest s that the racialized Other exis ts in a world that Â“yields no true self-consciousness,Â” where one always Â“looks at oneÂ’s self through the eyes of othersÂ” who look on in contempt and pity (615). For DuBois, the end of slavery is to be celebrated, but an equal level of gravity is needed to attend to th e permanence of the racialized world. DuBoisÂ’s concept of the color line is e ssential to postcolonial critique. While America may not share the same conditions and experiences in th e global postcolonial landscape, the black experience in America is a postcolonial one that relates closely to the historical experiences of the postcolonial world. Placing American social theories on race and history in the realm of postcolonial th eory assists in reorienting American social issues so that they are understood from the perspective of the hist ory of slavery and the development of a racialized society. Recent such reorientations in the field of education include Asa G. HilliardÂ’s staunch critique of continuing colonial practi ces found in the stratific ation of race-based educational structures. Hilliard historicizes the stratification of race in educational funding, planning, and practice in the post-integration era. In so doing, Hilliard shines a bright light on otherwise ignor ed connections between raci al disenfranchisement and public education in America.
16 Postcoloniality and American Education While America would like to situate itsel f as one of the oldest and strongest democracies in the world, the democratic idea l that Americans hold so dear is far from realized in all of the social, political, and economic f actors of life in Amer ica. HilliardÂ’s work is important in presenting the historic al, sociological, as we ll as educational and economic research which reasserts every day th at oppression, in the form of inequality, persists in America. As Hilliard is willing to note, Â“for the greater portion of the nationÂ’s history the frequently verbali zed commitment to the very id eals of liberty, equality, and fraternity has been realized by only a small subset of the total United States populationÂ— i.e., northern and western Europeans, and even them with some exceptionsÂ” (36). Hilliard argues that the colonial system Â“has existed in our nation during virtua lly all of its history [and] has guaranteed privilege to certain cu ltural groups, but oppressi on of some others.Â” Hilliard continues by asserting that Â“every facet of the social system has been mobilized to produce the society that both the privileged and the oppressed expe rience; education is merely one facet of that complex social systemÂ” (Hilliard 36). As a facet of the system of colonialism, Hilliard argues that educational structures maintain economic and social hierarchies of power, by providing economically stratified access to critical education and higher educa tion while limiting students of historically undervalued communities to sub-standard education. This is achieved through various methods, Hilliard points out, including fundi ng schools and teachers by property taxes on communities, stratifying access to resources in new technologies and new knowledges,
17 and privileging the discursive conventions of the ruling class with the mark of authenticity and, in so me cases, intelligence. American scholars in the field of compositi on have also found it useful to reorient the field of English studies to more closely c onsider its ties to the history of slavery and colonialism. Ira Shor and Paolo Freire have infused American composition theory with an allegiance to providing for students th e critical pedagogy nece ssary to transform historically embedded forms of oppression. The y, and others, are strongly concerned that in classroom instances, teachers whose own pe rceptions of reality are inhibited by the discourse of racism are more prone to transfer colonialist ideology in to the minds of their students and seal their fates as objects of an inevitable and unbreakable system. Â“Schools,Â” Ira Shor argues, Â“are one larg e agency among several which socialize students; they can confirm or challenge soci alization into inequality. Teachers can reinforce student alienation from critical thinking by confirming the curricular disempowerment of their intelligenceÂ” (Â“Ine quality,Â” 413). This is evidenced in the impact that archaic notions of white s upremacy have had on the direction academic knowledge has taken in the past. As Hilliar d points out, Â“It was not the shortage of information that produced the widely accepted myth of the intellectual superiority of Europeans over other populations in the world; it was the propensity to prefer propaganda over scientific information that kept otherwis e truth-seeking individuals blindly attracted to racist thoughtÂ” (40-1). As a result of such examples of racism in education as phrenology, for instance, American people s till rest on assumptions such as white supremacy to sustain the oppressive realities of inequality.
18 While America may be proud of the battle won for equality with the case of Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education the result has been far from an end to racial inequality. While physical factors such as desegregation and in tegration have been attended to, and that loos ely and under stringent enforcement, psychological and epistemological factors either had not been c onsidered or were dism issed by legislature. Education can serve to perpetua te the oppressive ideologies i nherited from the history of colonialism by maintaining a traditional curric ulum and structure that ignores the reality of neocolonialism in America. Historically, curriculum changes were not made in the post-integration era to integrate the knowledge that teachers in segr egated black schools were providing their black students in the curriculums of dese gregated schools. Nor did they make any attempts to integrate Black Vernacular di scourse. Instead, black students were Â“privilegedÂ” to enter the Â“gates of kn owledgeÂ” (white schools) and accept white education as the means to prof essional scholarship. The auth ority of colonialist ideology, ethics and discourse were not questioned in the implementation of integration. Hilliard addresses the realities of de facto segregation that arose following the Brown verdict. Â“The law could not and did not deal with the minds that prod uced segregation in the first place,Â” Hilliard argues, Â“nor the extent to wh ich overt and covert behavior was directed toward perpetuation of the status quoÂ” (40). Considering that Â“no credible evidence exis ts to dispute the fact that, given the same educational treatment, all groups will su cceed in school subjects equally as well,Â” Hilliard argues that Â“there is no democratic reason for America to restrict quality education to privileged groups and leave poor education to the Â‘othe rÂ’Â” (Hilliard 43). As
19 one of AmericaÂ’s early postcolonial compos ition theorists, Ira S hor provides staunch examples of privilege and oppression in American schools by relating pedagogical resources such as class size and dialogue w ith economic social structures. In ShorÂ’s analysis, the consequences of limited school funding on student empowerment are highly problematic. They suggest a strong correlati on between state power educational funding, and political hegemonic dominance. According to Shor and Freire, Â“The right to have a small discussion begins as a class privilege. The more elite the student th e more likely that he or she will have a personalized discussion contact with the professo r or teacher. For th e rest, there are large classes mixed with recitation se ctions staffed by poorly-paid in structors, or large classes in underfunded public schoolsÂ” (12). Shor re lates the model to th e banking model of education Freire critiques in Brazil, where peasant workers, kept illiterate through class restrictions on the privilege of education, find no means to political empowerment. FreireÂ’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is an early example of postcolonial composition, operating in South America. This critique of traditional education was later adopted in differing manners by Shor and other American compositionists, who were eager to infuse the work of writing instruc tion with student empow erment and a critical consciousness that allowed students to see th e world through the lens of the history of oppression and use language to pr oduce real structural changes in the world and in their lives. Shor prefers FreireÂ’s dialogical pe dagogy to traditional recitation because he believes that in the dialogic teaching met hod there is less chance of indoctrination and more chance for democracy. With dialogue facilitated in all sc hools, Â“teachers and students would have to confront our ow n experience in small-group, democratic
20 communitiesÂ” (Shor and Freire 13). In th is way, students and teachers would address issues more closely than they do in traditi onal educational systems in which the teacher lectures and the students liste n. The students would also par ticipate verbally in their own understanding of how the world works and why. In the dialogical classroom Shor and Frei re promote, ideology is the subject, and both teacher and student grapple with its hi story, function, and place. Shor describes dialogic pedagogy as Â“ for freedom and against domination, as cultural action inside or outside a classroom where th e status quo is challenged, wh ere myths of the official curriculum and mass culture are illuminatedÂ” (Shor and Freire 12). This pedagogy serves as a means to break the patterns of oppre ssion perpetuated in AmericaÂ’s educational curriculum and give students and teachers the power to question the r ealities of everyday life in the system of privilege and oppression. Â“Efforts at crit ical desocialization,Â” Shor contends, Â“could serve to illuminate the myths that support the elite hierarchy of society, to invite students to reflect on their own conditions, and to challenge them to consider how the limits they face might be overcomeÂ” (Shor, Â“Inequality,Â” 413). HilliardÂ’s postcolonial critique of post-inte gration education and Shor and FreireÂ’s critique of depoliticizing pr actices in non-privileged schools both argue strongly against traditional educational practices in America. Both also place American education al practice within the realm of the postcolon ial, making education complicit in the perpetuation of colonialist forms of dominance and privilege. Traditionally, integration in America was considered a blessing to the Af rican American community, but the decision to standardize education came at a hard price.
21 Instead of taking inequality for granted and going along the business of education for Â“progressÂ” (for the privileged few), as ha s historically been th e case in America, a more democratic and postcolonial approach to integration must restrain from assimilating students from marginalized gr oups into the alienating and self-defeating pathologies fostered in the di scourse of colonialism. Inst ead, a democratic, postcolonial approach to integrated scholarship must en courage studentsÂ’ partic ipation in revealing and breaking down the residual e ffects of colonialism and slavery. This approach must also acknowledge the validity of the vern acular discourses of these communities and must provide those Englishes with the same credibility that Â“StandardÂ” (white middle class) American English chooses to insist on for itself. America the Postcolony Hilliard argues that Â“School leaders must have a clear and accu rate description of how inequity functions in the educational system as well as a valid theory of its origins. It is the dynamics of inequity that the educator must understand rather than the mere fact of inequity itselfÂ” (41). Postcolonial critique in America, then, demands an understanding of the present in light of the past. It demands a memory of slavery that brings with it a recognition of the ways in which things are much the same. In addition, it demands an agenda that insists on change. Bar nor Hesse, a Diaspora theo rist, is interested in the role of memory in postcolonial c ontexts. Considering th e social and cultural function of the postcolonial memory of slaver y, Hesse claims that this active recollection of the colonial past serves as a Â“critical excavation and inventor y of the marginally discounted, unrealized objects of decolonization and the politi cal consequences of their
22 social legacies.Â” In these practices, Hesse finds a means by which to recognize the failure of decolonization to materialize, whilst maintaining the pursuit of a world without colonial ideological and material inheritan ces. Postcolonial memory, then becomes an ethics, Â“triggered by an awareness of the discontinuities of d ecolonization and global justice and the continuities of raci sm and global inequalitiesÂ” (165). The postcolonial memory of slavery is cen tral to much of the postcolonial work being done in America, often considered th e quintessential postcolony, as in many ways it has presented itself as the globalized m odel of decolonization. At the same time, America is a troublesome example of a postcol ony, because, while it emerges out of the slavery system, its ties to slavery were not severed in the same manner as those of the colonies of the vast empires of the colonial period. Rather, in America, slavery continues to ease away, at times violently rejected, ye t often latently existing in the bureaucracies and in the everyday mundane realities of pos tcolonial America. Hence the effects of slavery are still present in the vastly globali zed world. Postcolonial theorists struggle to place the globalized construct of America within the context of the history of slavery in order to recognize the ways in which America exists as both colonizer and colonized, housing in close quarters both oppressor and oppr essed. America has historically existed in this contradiction, claiming itself the ba stion of human liberty and freedom while relying heavily on a systematic and de humanizing exploitation of labor. For Ashcroft, postcolonial critique mu st focus on AmericaÂ’s command of and continuation of the discourses of colonialism and slavery. He contends that, Â“The key to the link between classical imperialism and c ontemporary globalizati on in the twentieth century has been the role of the United St ates, which enthusiastically assumed command
23 of imperial rhetoric.Â” Ashcroft adds that, Â“more importantly, US society during and after this early expansionist phase initiated those features of so cial life and social relations which today may be considered to char acterize the global: mass production, mass communication, and mass consumptionÂ” (213). The globalizing power of America makes it of great interest to postcolonial theorists, particularly those interested in the globalizing nature of the discourse of colonialism and its proliferation in the edu cational structures of the postcolony. POSTCOLONIAL THEORY AND HEGEMONIC STRUGGLE Discussions of globalizing di scourses can often be fraught with linguistic pitfalls that emerge rapidly in any discussions of power, dominance, and group identity. PostMarxist theorists warn that in attempts to represent th e concerns of Â“the oppressed,Â” the dangerous dichotomies of master-slave, rich-p oor, male-female paradigms tend to repeat themselves because theoristsÂ’ constructions of oppressed groups often rely on the same binary oppositions that have produced the structures they would dismantle. Foucault and others reject top-down notions of power, as do postcolonial theorists who choose to recognize the ways in which power historically has been shared on all sides in the history of oppression. Theorists drop into pitfalls when they paternalize oppressed groups and place themselves in the position of determining their fates, taking on the usurped role of master and perpetuating the dichotomy. Paterna listic treatments of dominant forces often serve to maintain existing power relations by normalizing the same practices and merely shifting slightly the identities of the bene ficiaries; the Â“oppressed,Â” then, remain oppressed.
24 Other pitfalls lay waiting for those w ho would dichotomize power relations in their analyses of the history of colonialism. Often treatments of oppressive forces in slavery and colonialism leave slaves with no power whatsoever. Hence scholars tend to discredit early African AmericansÂ’ forms of power, including those discourses honed from syncretic appropriations of spiritual ity and philosophy, those rhetorical measures, both public and private, that served to subvert the hege monic discourse of the plantation, and those discourses of change that have continuously prov ed the efficacy of African American agency. It must be understood th at an oppressive force could not operate without an equal force working against it. Power is multifaceted, some aspects overt, others covert, but each responsible for pr oducing reality and shaping change. The more attention we give to subaltern forms of power, the more discursive presence we give those powers. With the grow th of this presence, change occurs more rapidly. One of the most difficult pitfalls in trea tments of hegemony at this time occurs when theorists attempt to voice the concerns, n eeds, and values of Â“the oppressed.Â” Homi Bhabha is one of the major postcolonial theo rists who critique esse ntialist notions of identity, preferring to accentu ate the hybridity of the postcol onial identity and emphasize the multiplicitous and contradictory nature of ethnicity. Bhabha and postcolonial historicist John Comaroff grapple with the politics of representation involved in naming the other. The problem of Â“minoritarian identi fication,Â” as Bhabha and Comaroff name it, can be quite tricky; naviga ting around this problem i nvolves, Â“getting beyond the polarized geographic of majority vs. minority, where it is assu med that the political desire of the minority is to achieve the hegem onic majoritarian positionÂ” (17). These
25 assumptions of the self-appoint ed voice of the minority re duce the minority population, it is argued, by imagining for them their agendas and ends. Ashcroft address the problems involved wh en theorists define the discourses and identities of the minority as si lenced. Â“The danger implicit in colonial discourse theory as with postcolonial theories of subject formation,Â” Ashcroft asserts, Â“is its frequent insistence on the totality and absolute efficacy of the Â‘silencingÂ’ effects of colonialist representation, which, it is sometimes argue d, envelops and predetermines even the conscious acts of resistance which seek to oppose and dismantle itÂ” (46). Speaking for the silenced minority identity, then, the theorist or the revolutionary, or the authoritative discourse unwittingly silences those identities and populations, simultaneously preserving the dichotomous epistemology of th e existing social structure. Â“HegemonyÂ” has become a useful term fo r rearticulating power relations because the focus here is not on a topdown format of power, at leas t not solely, but also on those forms of power that emerge in the everyda y and provide sources of agency and power that are ignored often in treatments of oppressive structures. Antonio GramsciÂ’s construction of the organic intellectual is one subaltern identity that postcolonial theorists find helpful when wrestling with minority identification and hegemonic dominance. GramsciÂ’s definition of hegemony provide s for many post-Marxist and postcolonial theorists a means by which to recognize and arti culate that discursive agency is available and utilized more freely than imagined. The manipulation of power and the articulation of that manipulation occur constan tly in the realm of discourse, where ideological forces are continuously at play. As Louis Atlhusser indi cates, while repressive state apparatuses maintain a large degree of material contro l, repressive material conditions have
26 historically proven to be fa r more malleable than condi tions sustained by means of ideological state apparatuses. Gramsci identif ies ideological forces operating outside of the realm of the state apparatu ses, by drawing attention to th e Â“organic intellectual,Â” at work in the world and in many wa ys an active political agent. In his attempts to Â“reach a concrete a pproximation of reality,Â” Gramsci analyzes two structural levels of societ y, that of civil society and that of the State, and determines that Â“these two levels correspond on the one hand to the function of Â‘hegemonyÂ’ which the dominant group exercises throughout society and on the other hand to that of Â‘direct dominationÂ’ or command exercised through the State and Â‘juridicalÂ’ government.Â” Hegemony works alongside domination, but is not the same thing. While the State exercises dominant power through material, juridical apparatuse s, civil society disciplines individuals through hegemonic measures, work ing to ensure Â“spontaneous consentÂ” to existing State power. This consent is at th e heart of pos tcolonial and post-Marxist treatments of Gramsci, because the discip lining of consent is an ongoing discursive struggle. Thus, hegemonic struggle involves the attempt to rec onfigure the existing hegemony and produce change as well as the at tempt to keep things the same. Gramsci identifies traditional and organic intellectua ls at work in hegemonic struggle, with traditional intellectuals trained to work (in what ever disciplines they enter) as Â“deputiesÂ” of the dominant group. The primary task of th ese traditional intellectuals is to do the ideological work necessary to produce Â“spont aneous consentÂ” in the social world. Organic intellectuals operate outside of GramsciÂ’s academic mill, confronting and contesting the ideologies of the existing dom inant hegemony. This kind of work, the intellectual work that burgeons out of the community and into the worldÂ—rather than the
27 intellectual work that is proscribed for the individual by the State and injected into the communityÂ—is what Gramsci defines as Â“organic.Â” Change occurs as new intellectuals str uggle to transform the hegemonic discourse and change the predominant way of thinki ng. For this reason, Marxist critic Walter Adamson argues that for Gramsci, genuine education depends both on the Â‘elaborationÂ’ of intellectuals tied to the working class to provide it with Â‘organicÂ’ leadership, and on the creation of institutional settings in wh ich workers can raise themselves to a Â‘philosophicalÂ’ (as opposed to mere Â‘co mmonsenseÂ’) view of the worldÂ’ (142-43). Gramsci explains that Â“one of the most im portant characteristics of any group that is developing towards dominance is its struggle to assimilate and to conquer Â‘ideologicallyÂ’ the traditional intellectuals.Â” Gramsci adds, however, that Â“this assimilation and conquest is made quicker and more efficacious the more the group in question succeeds in simultaneously elaborating its own organic intellectualsÂ” (10). Locating and defining organic intellectuals is still a difficult task, but hegemonic struggle becomes a useful term for approximating reality without resorting to dichotomies of power. When hegemony is defined as struggle, with all parties seizing and manipulati ng power, we run less risk of reducing reality to one aggressive domi nant force acting on a passive oppressed. Dominant forces remain, of course, as pos tcolonial history will attest, but hegemonic struggle allows us to recogni ze and appreciate the effective rhetorical strategies and worldviews that thus far have moved us away from genocidal forms of oppression.
28 CONSTRUCTING THE COUNTERHEGEMONY Hegemonic struggle is important to deba tes on language and language instruction because theorists often question the efficacy of State-mandated discourses to speak the concerns of organic intellectua ls. Postcolonial language th eorist Arjuna Parakrama is interested in postcolonial appl ications of Gramsci as a useful means by which to identify alternate forms of hegemonic struggle. Para krama believes that language can provide the resource for producing an archaeology of such discursive struggle. Resisting systematic structures of perceived state dominance, Parakrama argues that too often Â“counterhegemony or alternative hegemony has been explained only in terms of organized and systematic, even class-based, resistance.Â” But the theorist finds these treatments of power unsatisfying and incomplete. Â“It seems to me ,Â” continues Parakrama, Â“that not-quite-soorganized forms of subversion and resist ance perform, on the long term, similar functions, though the Â‘turnover rateÂ’ is far grea terÂ” (60). In other words, socialization involves active disciplinary c ontrol as evidenced in Stat e apparatuses such as the judiciary government, but it also involves blind Â“spontaneousÂ” consent borne from seemingly passive hegemonic pressures emer ging in ideological a pparatuses like mass cultural media. At the same time, being a member of a social world also involves dissatisfaction and disagreement, affinity fo r difference, and consent to counterhegemony borne from shared experiences of discontent, and shared alternative forms of agency. These counterhegemonic practices are of great interest to Parakrama, who attempts to track the discursive progress of such practices and finds in the English language a useful record of hegemonic deve lopment. As a result, Parakrama laments GramsciÂ’s lack of attention to the relations hip between standardized national languages
29 and the successes and failures of organic inte llectuals in their c ounterhegemonic pursuits. For Parakrama, Â“it would seem that even for someone as astute and theoretically sophisticated as Gramsci, the standard or national language succeeds in hiding the continuous process of hegemony-dehegemoni zation-passive revolution-hegemonization that takes place in and through language as in the ever-so-gradual, yet bitterly fought, changes in usage and in the widening accepta ble variation of Gene ral American English. (62). Along with postcolonial critiques of representation in global communities, Guyatri SpivakÂ’s critique of postcolonial co nstructions of the Â“subalternÂ”Â—a term she prefers to Â“postcolonialÂ” or Â“ethnic minorityÂ” because of its reference to Â“the sheer heterogeneity of decolonized spaceÂ”Â— has b een influential at raising the level of trepidation with which we identify and speak for social groups and their representative discourses (310). While, for some, SpivakÂ’s critique seems to encompass a massive dismantling of postcolonial studies, for many, the ardent call of Â“m aking the Subaltern speakÂ” has resulted in a much appreciated se lf-examination as well as a rearticulation of the postcolonial subject. In mainstream postcolonial studies, Ashc roft speaks for a great many theorists standing strong following the wave of SpivakÂ’s critique, when he argues that Â“the phrase Â‘the subaltern cannot speakÂ’ need not imply that the subaltern is silenced and has no voice whatsoever.Â” For Ashcroft, the phrase Â“s uggests that the voice of the subaltern does not exist in some pure space outside the dominant discourse.Â” Ashcroft agrees with Spivak that Â“the subaltern can never speak out side the discourse of powerÂ” but he insists that Â“ all language is like that Â” (46). Ashcroft still believes that the subaltern can have
30 access to the dominant discourse and use th is discourse to transform the prevailing hegemony. Spivak may be more cautious about the possibility of subaltern agency in colonialist and patriarchal discourse, where sh e finds far too much in terpretation involved in voicing the intentions, agendas, and concer ns of subaltern subjects. But at the same time, in SpivakÂ’s own critique, in her speci fic example of Bhubane swari Bhaduri, this woman does achieve voice, but only within SpivakÂ’s work. In the theoristÂ’s honest attempt to question whether she can co mmunicate the subaltern, she does so and rearticulates the identi ty and agency of the oppressed, but that agency is so removed from the moment of the discursive act, that empowerment is difficult to accept. Subaltern discursive acts have to cont end with representational politi cs which tends to articulate their attempts at agency in ways that efface their desired intentions and weaken the power of such acts. Spivak sees th e subalternÂ’s road to hegemony as a long one, but a necessary one. Â“Unless we want to be romantic purists about Â‘preserving s ubalternityÂ’Â” Spivak states, noting the contradiction in terms, Â“t his is absolutely to be desiredÂ” (310). Traveling the long road to hegemony mean s working to dismantle structures of thought that maintain objectifying forces, in cluding those that would bind subjectsÂ’ identities to predetermined constructs of race, gender, and class. For Bhabha and Comaroff, Â“agencyÂ” exists in rejecting su ch identities and se arching out possible subjectivities outside of the prevailing cultural narratives. As a result, agency is recognizable in Â“the process of negotiating or translating differences,Â” where agency Â“becomes individuated and instantiated in and through the proce ss of deciphering a collective project whose Â‘identityÂ’ is not id entitarianÂ—it does not try and conserve the
31 totality or continuity of race or gender or culture.Â” Bhabha resists identitarianism by utilizing the concept of hybrid ity, which Philip Leonard belie ves is more preferable to Bhabha Â“because it allows him both to ch allenge hegemonic conceptions of cultural identity and to question tendenc ies in postcolonial th eory to perceive strict and unyielding divisions between a metropolitan cen tre and a colonial periphery.Â” In his attempts to de-center minoritarian identity, Bhabha crit iques these divisions that, as Philip Leonard points out, Â“for him treat the centre as unilaterally possessing power, and see the marginalized as in ert, dispossessed, and disarticulatedÂ” ( 132-3). Bhabha and Comaroff prefer to articulat e minoritarian agency, which they see as Â“Â‘genuinely protectiveÂ’ in the sense that its identifications ar e open to historical contingency and its affiliati ons are genuinely open to th e agnostic and antagonistic process unleashed in the sear ch for solidarityÂ” (17). Skir ting the irresponsibility of transcendentalism, yet disallowing historical de terminism, this agency seems to involve a recognition of historically cons tructed categories of identity, along with a healthy distrust of the rigidity of such categories. What bi nds these contradictory perspectives and makes agency possible, is the additional ardent attempt to rearticulate the reality of social unity. Hegemonic struggle is located most strongl y in the intellectualÂ’s discursive work in the world, be that intellectual traditiona l or organic. James Berlin recognizes the discursive nature of knowledge production, when he argues that, Â“knowledge is not a static entity located in the external worl d, or in subjective states, or even in a correspondence between external and internal structures.Â” Be rlinÂ’s work endeavors to redefine knowledge by shifting the traditional focus of knowledge and reality as objective sensory perceptions or subj ective personal responses. Instead, Berlin argues for
32 transactional rhetoric that lo cates knowledge in discursive transactions where reality, meaning, and value are mediated. Not to be mi staken for relativism, BerlinÂ’s discursive transactions are laden with forms of power, struggling for hegemonic dominance in the given linguistic moment and resting on established avenues to those powers. Â“Knowledge,Â” Berlin insists, Â“is dialectical the result of a relationship involving the interaction of opposing elementsÂ” ( Rhetoric 166). In BerlinÂ’s disc ursive transactions a plurality of ideologies are at play; each linguistic exchange becomes, Â“a given historical moment displaying a variety of competing c onflicts, althoughÂ” he warns, Â“the overall effect of these permutations tends to support the hegemony of the dominant classÂ” (Â“RhetoricÂ” 479) As organic intellectuals grapple with the hegemony of the dominant class, their efficacy with discourse will assist in their efforts, and, if Parakrama is correct, those efforts will leave a mark on the landscape of the language. Hegemony allows for a more realistic treatment of power, and it makes everyone more accountable. The redistribution of power allowed in treatments of hegemony allows us to explore alternate forms of power; they also allow us to recognize forms of agency available in the social worl d. Stuart Hall finds the idea of hegemony useful as well for articulating the real. HallÂ’s work in cultural studies has been influe ntial in reconfiguring post-Marxist theory of social fo rmations. HallÂ’s analyses of so cial narratives continue to define Â“the different ar eas of social life [that] appear to be mapped out into discursive domains, hierarchically organized into dominant or preferred meanings .Â” For Hall, these dominant meanings work like interpretive a pparatuses that allow often for spontaneous consent to hegemonic dominance. Hall prefer s this discursive model for articulating social life because, Â“then, we are not talk ing about a one-sided process which governs
33 how all events will be signified.Â” Instead, the play of dominant meanings in the discursive event Â“consists of the Â‘workÂ’ required to enforce, win plausibility for and command as legitimate a decoding of the event within the limit of dominant definitions in which it has been connotatively signifiedÂ” (172). This discur sive work can become the primary focus of postcolonial composition e ducation, where hegem onic struggle lies at the heart of compositing acts. The discursive work suggested in HallÂ’s so cial analyses become the basis for the composition pedagogy heralded by Henry Giroux, a rhetorician that insists on critical pedagogy that engages students in a public discourse of ci tizenship and democracy. For Giroux, attention to hegemonic struggle is valuable because, Â“as old borders and zones of cultural difference become more porous or ev entually collapse, questions of culture increasingly become interlaced with the i ssues of power, repres entation, and identityÂ” ( Living 96). Students must be prepared to participate in the disc ursive work of culture and they must understand that they cannot as easily rely on assert ing dominant ideology without question. They must also learn to ap preciate the ways in which attention to hegemony opens up avenues to discursive power for them and for the communities they represent. Writing programs focused on hegemonic struggl e expand traditional textcentered perspectives of the composing act using language proficiency as a means by which to empower students with the discursi ve knack necessary for critical intervention in the worldÂ’s discursive domains. While hegemonic struggle releases postcol onial theorists from the shackles of the master-slave paradigm, strong post-Marxists ap preciate the measures ta ken to preserve an understanding of the persistence of materi al forms of dominance. With hegemonic
34 struggle comes hegemonic dominance, often supporting the status quo and perpetuating historically produced traditions, social formations, and institutions. ParakramaÂ’s suggestion that an archeology of English coul d track hegemonic struggl e is intriguing. It suggests even more strongly that ve rnacular discourses house concentrated counterhegemonic forces. The following chap ter will explore the connection between language and identity, and consider the social consequences of linguist ic stratification.
35 Chapter 2: Identity Politics and Writing Instruction Traditional writing program administra tors seldom address the political implications of promoting th e appropriation of Â“academicÂ” or standardized discourse. Thus the significance of subaltern discourse is somewhat lost in traditional writing programs that view nonstandardized Englis hes as Â“substandard.Â” By ignoring the connections between language and identity, and between li nguistic stratification and social stratification, these programs also leave themselves open to scalding accusations of race, class, and gender privil ege. The relationship between language and identity is explored in this chapter, w ith specific focus on identity appropriation. Defining identity as discursive, I argue in this chapter that hi storically formed discourses house narratives that construct subjects in ways that serve or challenge the social order. Not all narratives are equally sanctioned, however, and writing pr ograms tend to sanction those discourses that serve the existing dominant hegem ony. Placing discourse appropriation in the context of conflicting arguments on the efficacy of the English language at communicating postcolonial concerns, the chapter argues for the validity of nonstandardized discourses on the basis of their counterhegemonic value.
36 IDENTITY AND SUBJECTIVITY Identity politics are at play in every di scursive transaction. Id entity is negotiated and determined contextually in each linguistic interaction. This discursive conceptualization of identity bears greatly on English studies. By making the English classroom a monolingual space wherein only st andard English is acceptable, writing programs have rejected not only the forms of expression possible in the academic space, but also the identities that would voice those expressions. By de-legitimizing the narratives of non-privileged communities, these programs de-legitimize the identities that are constituted in those narratives. Couze Venn differentiates subjectivity and identity by equating subjectivity with positionality. For Venn, Â“the term subjectivity re fers to the entity constituted as a position with regard to real processes and mechanisms of constitution of subjects.Â” Venn qualifies this definition by turning to current theorizatio ns, and argues that subjectivity is Â“located by reference to general norms of behavior and disposition specifi ed in discourses and technologies of the social.Â” Venn also notes th e Â“other side of sociality, outside direct state interventions, in which subjectivities emerge.Â” So here subjectivity amounts to positionality or location within particular disc ourses, those enforced by the social order, as well as those resisting said order. Identi ty, for Venn, Â“refers to the relational aspect that qualify subjects in terms of categories such as race, ge nder, class, nation, sexuality, work and occupation, and thus in terms of ac knowledged social rela tions and affiliations to groupsÂ” (79). Subjectivit y, then, it would seem, operates alongside or in tension with identity in any given discur sive transaction, producing po ssibilities within particular narratives of action.
37 In hegemonic struggle, identity manifest s itself in allegiances to discursive constructions of reality. As Venn indicates, Â“Subjectivity and ident ity are necessarily interrelated. [ Â… ] Together they institute subjec ts as specific selves .Â” This approach to identity Â“is guided by the recognition that in the background of the problem of identity one finds quite basic questions about th e Â‘whoÂ’Â—of action, of agency, of lived experience, the one who answers the call to responsibilityÂ—about belonging and ontological security, questions that are as old as the emergence of human self consciousnessÂ” (78). Venn con tinues by arguing that analysis of subjectivity and identity Â“directs attention to the linguistic, disc ursive, technical, temporal, spacial and psychological reality of the processes and to the locatedness of identity and subjectivity by reference to their imbrication or embedde dness within the techni co-material space of culture in which they are stagedÂ” (80). In other words, identity always consists of subjectivity within particular historically formed cultural narratives. Any treatment of identity, then, must include a strong consideration of language, narrative, ideology, history, and material conditions. At the sa me time, any treatment of language, and language instruction, must include a strong consideration of identity. SUBJECTIVITY AND RA CIALIZED IDENTITY Hegemonic struggle determines the mast er narratives and so cially enforced discourses that serve to construct the ma terial conditions of everyday life; thus, hegemonic struggle is a battle for the subjec tivities of individuals and social groups. The discourse of colonialism maintains a language of racialization that has proven not only violently destructive to huma n cultural unity, but also viol ently resistant to subversive
38 hegemonic transformation. Within the disc ourse of colonialis m, subjectivity is determined by racial markers. Helen ScottÂ’s historical analysis of the construction of racialized identities sheds mo re light on the relationship be tween colonial discourse and the persistence of racial hierar chies. Scott argues that the ideo logy of race has its roots in the simultaneous emergence of the Â“ideology of the individual, personal liberty and freedomÂ” along with the intensification of slav ery at the end of th e seventeenth century. Rejecting previous notions of biological race as a notable identity construct of the Early Modern period, Scott contends instead that, in the slavery era, Â”the ideology of race served to justify the denial of rights to slaves [as] defenders of slavery categorized blacks as a Â‘subhumanÂ’ group consequently undeserv ing of bourgeois rightsÂ” (173). Thus the construction of the black identity as dehum anized served to protect the human rights America was so proud to provide for its white citizens. The systematic construction of race is th e manifestation of the defensive efforts the white community took to vouchsafe for itself the new su bjectivity of the authentic individual. Scott notes that th is defensive strategy included a Â“new criterion of status, located in natural differences, readable in external characteristics.Â” Scott attests that, Â“from this moment on, differences in skin colo r, once regarded in much the same way as other human differences such as size and hair color, and certainly far less important than religion or status, acquired te rrifying significance.Â” The histor ical intersection, then, of burgeoning American individual freedom and liberty, on one hand, and increasing reliance on human slave labor, on the other, called for a rhetorical manipulation of the American concept of the free individual, one th at would celebrate all of the promises of American freedom, and yet maintain the system of human exploitati on on which it rested.
39 The dichotomy of the black and white identiti es served just such a purpose, exploiting human labor by denying humanit y, and communicating it all within a discourse bent on celebrating freedom and liberty. From this tim e on, Scott states, Â“blackness and whiteness were taken to be absolute indicators of iden tity: to be white was to be Â‘freeÂ’ and to be black a Â‘slaveÂ’Â” (173). The construct of the black identity provide s in this chapter no t only an exemplary model for introducing the discursive nature of identity and subjectivity, but also a particularly relevant example of the identi ty politics at play in the discourse of colonialism. Postcolonial historicist David Go ldberg traces the development of racialized discourse and argues that Â“all the concerns with racial classifi cation schemas marking social thought from the late seventeent h century onwards accor dingly are about the insistence on epistemological order in the face of the unknown, of control in the face of the anarchicÂ—in general, of order in the face of disorder.Â” Faced with the daunting evidence of the expansion of racializing discourse concurre nt with the growth of the modern period, Goldberg can only define the st ate of modernity as Â“the state of imposed order naturalizedÂ” wherein the state become s Â“not simply consistent with racial classification schemas, but perfectly conducive toÂ—in a sense dependent uponÂ—themÂ” (98). Within the colonialist discourse of pl antation capitalism, raci alization perpetuated the social hierarchy that was normalized in the everyday na rratives and everyday practices of race-based labor exploitation at its most debase d, i.e. slavery. Following the emancipation of slaves in the United States the discourse of plantation capitalism still remained for many a master discourse, dete rmining and constructing the identities of
40 African Americans as slave la bor, as dehumanized subjec ts, as objects of sympathy, shame, or amusement. Concomitant with the discourses of colonialism and their racializing subjectifications, discourses of resistance ha ve emerged that con tinually challenge the conceptualizations of black a nd white identities that were prevalent in the ideology of white supremacy. The discursive struggle for the emancipation of slavery, for the voting rights of black citizens, for the human and civi l rights of African Americans, for equitable economic compensation for exploitative labor pr actices, still continues to be one that is fraught with the kind of difficulties that are bor ne from speaking from a distance. That is, emergent, or proto-postcolonial rejections of colonial constructions of reality historically wrestle with constructs that are heavil y entrenchedÂ— bureaucratically, economically, ontologicallyÂ—and violently defended. The standardized, legitimized and normalized defenses of colonialism, slavery, and planta tion ideologies are in many ways still vying successfully for hegemonic dominance. Unfortunately, in the process of hegem onic struggle, discourses resisting the ideological forces of white supremacy often continue to utilize racializing practices. These would-be contradiscourses work hard to deconstruct the racial subjectivities presented in the discourses of colonialism. Ye t in doing so they often maintain the blackwhite dichotomy by constructing alternative essentialized identities operating on the same binary identities that produce the tropic figur es of the discourse of white supremacy. For example, in the Black Power Movement, White Slavemaster and Black Slave were resignified as White Devil, Black Brother; the significations cha nged, yet the binaries
41 remained the same. The difficulty of ev aluating the identity and efficacy of contradiscursive acts will be explored further in the following chapters. IDENTITY AND POSTCOLONIALITY Colonizing and resistant discourses struggle for re presentative power and hegemonic dominance. The struggle for hege monic dominance is more clearly articulated with theories that reject binary oppositio ns and instead recognize the plurality of discourses that participate in naming reality. Mikhail BakhtinÂ’s concept of heteroglossia is useful for redefining the inte rplay of discursive formations that constitute individual identities in linguistic transactions. Hegem ony involves a multitude of discursive agents who may be working in contention in a Bakhtinian heteroglossia, consistently reconfiguring reality as some epistemologi es attempt to anchor social, economic and cultural formations, and others work to de stabilize those formations. Some of these worldviews are proliferated in the mainst ream and channeled through all available communicative resources; othe rs are voiced from the margins, often outside of bureaucracy and outside of standardized, legitimized discourses. BakhtinÂ’s conception of the Â“centripetal forc es of the life of languageÂ” presents a discursive world in which these epistemologies operate in the midst of heteroglossia. Â“At any given moment of its evolut ion,Â” Bakhtin argues, Â“languag e is stratified not only into linguistic dialects in the strict sense of the word (according to formal linguistic markers, especially phonetic), but also [ Â… ] into la nguages that are socio-ideological: languages of social groupsÂ” (1199). Thus the stratification of social groups is di rectly rela ted to the stratification of languages in a given socio-cultural formati on. For Bakhtin, stratification
42 and heteroglossia Â“insure the dynamicsÂ” of linguistic life; the two constituting the centripetal and centrifugal forces of linguistically determined reality. Bakhtin notes that, Â“alongside the centripetal forces, the centr ifugal forces of language carry on their uninterrupted work; alongsid e verbal-ideological central ization and unification, the uninterrupted process of decentralization and disunification go forwardÂ” (1199). BakhtinÂ’s heteroglossia is far from an ev en exchange between social unity and the forces of change. Rather, his attention to st ratification and to soci o-ideological forces draws attention to the contentious nature of the interplay of discourses. This attention to the power relations inherent in language is al so evident in BakhtinÂ’s explanation of the dialogic nature of language as, Â“a struggle among socio-lingu istic points of viewÂ” rather than Â“an intra-language struggle between indi vidual wills or logi cal contradictionsÂ” (1200). Socio-linguistic points of view, or ideological forces articulate themselves and are disarticulated in discourse transactions, or utterances, which, for Bakhtin, constitute Â“points where centripetal as well as cent rifugal forces are brought to bearÂ” (1199). BakhtinÂ’s heteroglossia provides a useful meta phor for the postcolonial world because in the reality of postcolon iality, the discourse of colonialism struggles to maintain itself in spite of the multitude of discourses consistently deconstructing it, revealing its tendencies towards debasement and presenting the world with new approaches to social relations, ethical practices, and human purpose. The sociolinguistic stratification Bakhtin brings to light also reveals that heteroglossia exists in an unequal field of play. Particular sociol inguistic groups have greater expressive power in heteroglossia; their discourses may also have greater authoritative power. At the same time, while utterances from all sociolinguistic groups
43 are voiced in heteroglossia, not all are heard. Linguistic identity reflects social stratification in important ways. Particul ar forms of discourse are deemed more legitimate, more academically advanced, more influential. In the discourse of colonialism, the language of the colonizer main tains the position of th e standard, and thus maintains the identity of the colonizer as the standard, and the superior. While attempts have been made of late to resignify the la nguage standardized and assessed in American educational institutions, the connection betw een academic discourse, Â“properÂ” English or Â“correctÂ” English, has historical significance that will linger as long as the role of writing instruction in the sociolinguistic stra tification of African Americans remains underappreciated. What is now being herald ed as Â“academic discourse,Â” is often no different from the discourse of the white mi ddle class who continue to benefit from the class stratification produced in the slavery er a. The prestige attached to standardized English stems from the prestige attached to the white identity the language constructs. LANGUAGE AND INTERPELLATION The possible connections between the standardization of white middle class discourse and the construction of the privileged white identity are of great significance to English studies. In a field where discourse standardization is ofte n becoming the primary task at hand, rhetoricia ns must politicize the standard a nd consider the possibility that, by standardizing a discourse that flourished in the era of slav ery and colonialism, they may be assisting in fomenting th e ideologies that sustained the hegemony of those times. Louis AlthusserÂ’s definition of ideology as a function assists in exploring the relationship between language, identity, a nd ideological formations. For Althusser, Â“all ideology has
44 the function (which defines it) of Â‘constitutin gÂ’ concrete individuals as subjectsÂ” (1503). AlthusserÂ’s famous thesis that ideology inte rpellates individuals as subjects suggests strongly that discursive activity is highly ideological. At all times, ideology is working to produce social consent to particular social fo rmations. Alhusser is pa rticularly interested in dominant power structures, which he ar gues are sustained through repressive and ideological apparatuses that draw indivi duals, actively or passively, into accepting existing political, economic and soci al relations as inevitable. From its inception, postcolonial scholars hip has expressed interest in the problematic connections they find between language and colonization. Mahatma Gandhi expressed great concern that the colonizing discourse present in the English language would interpellate Indi ans as subjects of European col onial domination. For this reason, Gandhi was a strong defender of Vernacular discourses. According to Ramanathan, Â“GandhiÂ’s call for freedom and national uni ty was indivisibly tied to his views on language: he consistently maintained that a new, libera ted India could only fully emerge if it fully and completely enhanced the Vernaculars and gave up being enslaved by all things British.Â” For Gandhi, this included Â“the crucial instrument of colonization, namely the English languageÂ” (qtd. in Ramanathan 23) Within the context of colonialism, standardized language becomes an interpella tive force, perpetua ting the association between European discourse and the standar d, the correct, the aut horitative language and in that way normalizing and disciplining the hegemonic dominance of European imperialism and white supremacy. Peter McLaren has produced strong critique s of traditional practices in writing instruction as well as innova tive applications of critic al pedagogy. McLaren, like the
45 postcolonial theorists before him, expresses his unease with the in terpellative powers of language. McLaren argues that these interpella tive powers are directly tied to particular ideologies protected by and perpetuated in authoritized discourses. Calling on postmodern theory, McLaren warns against a dopting notions of langua ge as capable of imparting Â“hidden and invariant truth,Â” preferring to recognize the social contexts of truth and knowledge, and the linguistic nature of t hose contexts: Â“it stands to reason that language does not simply incarnate reality w ithout implicating agents in relations of powerÂ—usually through totalizing sy stems situated in the domina nt regimes of truth, in which interpretive strategies are employed to classify the way Â‘weÂ’ understand the social and cultural practices of Â‘the yÂ’Â” (77). All reality thenÂ—including and especially the reality of identityÂ—is constructed in langua ge, and hence in the interplay of power relations as they are constituted, enforced, and subverted in discursive acts. Even experience must be viewed as subjective, as McLaren notes: since Â“e xperience is largely understood through language, and language shapes our views and actions, it follows that experience does not guarantee truth, being al ways open to conflicting interpretations.Â” For McLaren, this means than that Â“experience is not some fixed essence, some concrete reality that exists prior to language. [ Â… ] Rather, experi ence is constituted by languageÂ” (79). If we accept McLarenÂ’s postmodern assertion that reality is constituted in language, then GandhiÂ’s particular concerns are heightened. Sta ndardized colonizing discourses, then, would not only serve as the authoritative and correct discourse, but also as the prevailing and sanctioned perspective from which to understand, interpret, and respond to experience. Standardizing discursi ve acts seems a useful method for policing
46 not only language speaking pr actices, but also language thinking practices. Hence, colonialist discourse can situ ate racialization as the prim ary metaphor for identity and reality, and can normalize the practices that serve to sustain the system of racial stratification as a seemingly intractable social system. Postcolonial theorists are highly concerned with the in terpellative function of language, and well they should. World renowne d British linguist David Crystal agrees that, in a postcolonial world, Â“it is inevitable that there should be a strong reaction against continuing to use the language of the former colonial power, and in favor of promoting the indigenous languages.Â” These arguments hol d some weight for Crystal because Â“they are all to do with identity, and with language as the most immediate and universal symbol of that identityÂ” (125) Identity is at the heart of language; language formations and conventions constitute social identities that can be defined as discourse communities. The idea of discursive communities is at this time one of the most acceptable means by which to define and determine group solidarity wit hout essentializing i ndividuals with biodetermined classifications. Politics of representation emerge when e ducators decide for th e larger population what language will best suit the public expressions of individual sÂ’ identities, cultures, and concerns. Choosing the discourse sanctioned for public expression may be tantamount to choosing the points of view, ideas, and con cerns that may be expressed. Discourse encompasses more than accents, expressions, and usage conventions; underlining all of these linguistic idiosyncrasies are worldviews that serve to make the discourse alive and active in the minds of the users the discourse appropriates and in th e world the discourse constructs. One standard languageÂ—represe ntative of one privileged discourse
47 communityÂ—cannot in the same manner speak the culture and concerns of a community threatened, demonized, and othered by that privileged community. Instead, subaltern communities must couch their expressions of themselves in the discourse of those that, as DuBois expressed so well, Â“look on in amused contempt and pityÂ” (615). This concept of language as the avat ar of identity complicates language instruction and standa rdization, particularly in the context of postcoloniality. The implications for Drew include an expansion of traditional approaches to the writing process Â“to include not only studentsÂ’ invention, drafting, an d revision practices, but also the practice of analyzing the cultural forces that are necessarily constitutive of the academic texts they will produ ceÂ” (416). Patricia BizzellÂ’s i nquiries into the effects of cultural background and student acquisition of academic discourse has been highly influential in politicizing language standardiz ation. Bizzell believes that it is ethically imperative that compositionists consider strong ly the cultural imp lications of language instruction. Both Bizzell and David Bart holomae use Â“discourse communityÂ” as a metaphor for the various linguistic groups that their writing students represent and the disciplinary groups those students encount er in the academy. Bizzell agrees with Bartholomae that, regardless of background, Â“the student who is attempting to master academic discourse is attempting to pass for a member of a particular cultural group.Â” Failure to share this common stock, Bizzell continues, Â“is one of the most salient ways a student destroys his or her ethos in the world of college intellectual lifeÂ” (36-7). What this means for teachers of academic discourse is often an imperative to take the Â“writing problemÂ” seriously as an issue of ineffective interpellation.
48 This issue of interpellation leads Bizze ll to the understandi ng that Â“studentsÂ’ thinking may need remediation as much as their writing,Â” an obs ervation which could easily lead to problematic conclusions of th e kind that cognitive development theorists have had so stringently critiqued. Accepti ng the interpellative nature of writing instruction for Bizzell means acc epting that Â“our teaching task is not only to convey information but also to transform studentsÂ’ whole worldview.Â” Here Bizzell is simply being honest about the interp ellative element of language instruction, and while she offers no alternatives to changing studentsÂ’ worldviews, she does acknowledge that what we do in the classroom may very we ll be ideologically questionable. The ideological component of writing instruction holds profound purport for writing program administrators. As Bizzell in dicates, Â“if [interpe llation of studentsÂ’ worldviews] is indeed our proj ect, we must be aware that it has such scope. Otherwise,Â” she contends, Â“we risk burying ethical and political questions under supposedly neutral pedagogical techniqueÂ” (75). Bu t questions remain whether mere awareness is enough. Postcolonial compositionists still remain sk eptical about whether the awareness Bizzell calls for will be enough to contend with the interpellation that s eems inevitable when students of English appropriate a discourse so historically entrenched in the colonizing mission, particularly at the rate and number that composition students are made to digest standardized discourse. Compre hensive interdisciplinary research of a difficult nature would be required to answer such questions This research woul d involve ethnographic studies and discourse analyses of home discourse communities, academic disciplinary communities, and additional discourses communities into which students are initiated. It would also include pedagogical analyses of the classroom, the teacher, and the writing
49 program, as well as post-hoc analyses of stude ntsÂ’ worldviews, agendas, and applications of discourse in the public sphere. Of course it would still be very di fficult to determine the degree to which standardized discourse specifica lly was attributable to any interpellative changes in the students--even if it is the students themselv es who attribute inte rpellation to language education. Change is part of the learning pr ocess, and college is an arena for drastic changes in studentsÂ’ points of view. Yet if su ch studies indicated a large-scale movement of allegiances from minoritzed discourse co mmunities to that of the dominant eliteÂ—so much that it amounts to discursive genocideÂ—th en educational institutions would have to be held accountable for the role they play in snapping the minds of students away from the ties that bind them to their cultural communities. Interpellation politicizes discourse ap propriation and turns writing programs into ideological state apparatuses, hailing stude nts into the discourse of the status quo. Because identity is so largely discursive, Â“d iscourse communityÂ” has become a prevailing metaphor for constructing indi vidual identity and group solid arity and for identifying the social and historical forces at play in st udent success and failure rates in the writing programs. The connection between discourse appropriation and ideological interpellation is further explored in the following section, where AlthusserÂ’s determinism is challenged by theories that suggest that the English language may not be solely an avatar for historically repressive ideol ogical structures. In many ways postcolonial theory suggests that writing programs may very we ll be able to defend English as a discourse of critical engagement and contrahegemonic agency.
50 INTERPOLATION AND CONTRADISCOURSE While GandhiÂ’s, ParakramaÂ’s and othersÂ’ co ncerns about the inte rpellative nature of standardization are salient and necessary, the blatant cont radiction inherent in their cries for Vernacular over standardized dialects is, of course, evident in the very language in which their cries are spoken, i.e. Standard ized English. The facility of the English language to colonize subaltern discourses is often interroga ted by theorists who are quite adept at communicating this information in th e very discourse they contend makes it near impossible. It is a paradox of a most disturbing nature; time and time again, postcolonialists, from Fanon to Malcolm X, manage to make the most perspicuous and well considered critiques of co lonial domination and the most credible defenses for the abandonment of the discourse of colonialism, a ll in the blasted discourse of colonialism. Ashcroft believes that, Â“underl ying the dispute over the most effective form of discursive resistance is the question: Can one use the language of imperialism without being inescapably contaminated by an imperial worldview?Â” The answer, I believe, is no. Just as one cannot speak of a world outsi de of the West, one can no longer speak of a discourse that is not c ontaminated by imperial worldviews. To do so is to pine for antiquated monumentalized worlds that exist merely in Western influenced imaginations. The level of contamination however, is what is at stake in the appropriation of discourse. After all, degrees of contamination depend upon the volume of the contaminantÂ—in this case, with the girth of the colonial project, quite immenseÂ— as well as the volume of the contaminatedÂ—here, with the ineffectiv ely tallied body of postcolonial peoplesÂ— relatively large as well. Contamination also de pends on the density of the materials at the areas of contact. Some portions may be mo re porous and absorbent, others rigid and
51 intractable. It is difficult to make broad predictions about contamination; instead, one usually has to wait, like watching the waters recede from the streets of New Orleans, to know just how deadly the damage is. The discourse of colonialism and its ideo logy of white supremacy negate resistant discourses by claiming authority on reason, on aest hetics, on identity and seem at times to be bent on discursive monopoly. The cons equence of such a monopoly would be linguistic extinction for many discourse co mmunities. The concurrent rhetorics of demonization, feminization, and social hierarc hy at play in coloni zing discourses only serve to perpetuate the association of sham e with vernacular discourses, and with the communities these discourses represent. Against these odds, however, postcolonial theorists can present a growing discourse of resistance at play in the hegemonic struggle of the colonial and postcolonial worlds. It is difficult, however, to pin down just when this discourse is most effective and most c onstructive. It is stil l uncertain whether the speaker achieves greater praxis or agency when the discourse of resistance is uttered in the Vernacular, or in the standardized language Also difficult to as certain is whether the discourse of resistance bour geons from the Vernacular la nguage, or from a syncretic heteroglossia, or whether the discourse of resistance would even exist without the vernacular language. These uncertainties necessita te further inquiry into the relationship between identity and discourse appropriation. The link between language and identity is still quite nebulous, which makes staunch accusations of ideology interpellation difficult to prove. According to Ashcroft, while discourse appropriation s hould remain a concern for post colonial theorists, thereÂ’s no need, he believes, for an alarmist re jection of the English language. Ashcroft
52 deconstructs AlthusserÂ’s interpellation mode l to argue that in the case of colonized subjects, there is as much evidence of Â“i nterpolation,Â” wherein colonized subjects appropriate the discourse of co lonialism and use it to counte r its debilitating effects. It is important to note the distinctio n between the terms interpellation and interpolation. Interpellation re fers to the ways in which id eology hails individuals into subject positions of prevailing narratives; interpolation refers to the means by which individuals use the discourse and narratives of prevailing ideology to interrogate and dismantle ideological structures from w ithin. For Ashcroft, Â“interpolation counters AlthusserÂ’s proposition of the interpellation of the subject, by naming the process by which colonized subjects may resist the forces designed to shape them as Â‘other,Â’Â” thus providing access to Â“counter disc ursive agencyÂ” (47). Ashcroft and others take issue with the disempowerment of the interpellation m odel, which, they argue, deny the hegemonic forces at play in power relations, and thus reinforces top-down models of power that deny subaltern agency. AshcroftÂ’s argument is important because he places attention on power relations, insisting that forces of interp olation are not necessarily equal to those interpellative forces at play in hegemonic dominance. While inte rpolation Â“reverses A lthusserÂ’s concept of Â‘interpellationÂ’ by ascribing to the colonial subject, and, consequently, to the colonial society, a capacity for agency,Â” Ashcroft states, Â“this agency is effected within relationships that are radically unequalÂ” (14). But Ashcroft can, at times, appear rather naive about the appropriation of discourse, and he skirts the issue that, for colonized subjects, there still is lit tle choice in the matter.
53 Contesting the idea that the Â“apparently dom inated culture and the Â‘interpellatedÂ’ subjects within itÂ” are being Â“swallowed up by the hegemony of empire,Â” Ashcroft argues that these subjects are Â“quite able to interp olate the various modes of imperial discourse to use it for different purposes, to counter its effects by transforming them.Â” Hence, some minoritized students are able to utilize disciplinary discourse to bring the concerns and interests of their community to the academy, as the growth of postcol onial studies attests. Ashcroft is comforted by the idea that co lonized subjects have access to interpolation, and he believes that this makes language in struction crucial for the transformative work he sees for them. Â“Language,Â” he argues, Â“i s key to this interpol ation, the key to its transformative potentialÂ” (14). For Ashcroft, Â“t he interpolation of im perial culture and the appropriation and transformati on of dominant forms of repr esentation for the purposes of self-determination, focus with greatest intensity in the function of languageÂ” (56). With such importance placed on language, it is surprising that Ashcroft is unwilling to politicize language and standardization. His sunny approach to appropriation leaves language as an innocent tool it be us ed in whatever manners best serve the user, but language is far more complex than this suggests. While I agree that Â“post-colonial subjects in their ordinary di alogic engagement with the wo rld are not passive ciphers of discursive practices,Â” I am not willing to accept that they are not constructed as such, and it takes a keen critical mind to deconstruct the identities that dominant discourse will construct for colonized subject (48). The playing field is far from equal, and there are far too little examples of AshcroftÂ’s transforma tive subjects in comparis on with the scores of standardized, colonized subjects partic ipating in postcolonial realities.
54 In many ways, AshcroftÂ’s arguments can be understood as a valiant attempt to deconstruct traditional hierarchies of power and place further attention on the forms of power available to colonized subjects, in orde r to keep from silencing their efforts at seizing agency and relegating them to the position of oppressed, impotent, Other. The reality is that colonized subjects do seize agency in a number of ways, including through the linguistic power of coloni al discourse. As McLaren notes, Â“all language, according to Freire, works to reproduce dominant power rela tionships, but it also carries with it the resources for critique and for dismantling the oppressive structures of the social orderÂ” (73). And even Ramanathan is willing to support the idea of postcolonial hybridity, Â“which by its nature implies na tivizing, i.e. appropriating the colonizerÂ’s language (in this case English) to fit and reflect local wa ys of thinking, knowing, behaving, acting, and reasoning in the world (vii-viii). Ashcroft is correct in arguing for the cu ltural capital of colo nial languages, but caution is called for as well, because in appr opriating these languages, colonized subjects have a greater chance of being interpella ted than they have of interpolating and transforming the discourse of colonialism. In other words, in appropriating a discourse, it is still highly likely that students will b ecome appropriated by the discourse. Apart of Geneva SmithermanÂ’s publication of TalkinÂ’ That Talk postcolonial theorists who speak their allegiances to the discourses of postc olonial communities successfully have done so in the discourse of colonialism. Attempts ar e being made to infuse the discourse of the standard with expressions from subaltern discourse communities, hence the basketball reporterÂ’s comment, Â“he was a little vanilla on th at play.Â” These remarks, trivial as they may seem, spark fires in hearts of postcolonial lan guage theorists, who wish to see in
55 them the possibility of appropr iation in the other directionÂ—pe rhaps, if interpellation and interpolation go hand in hand, language standa rdization can involve creating a national English that represents all of its Englishes, and all of the assumptions, interests, and expressions of al of its communities, not merely those privileged by the historical formation of colonial power. The following chapter examines disc ourse appropriation in the composition classroom and historicizes the standardization de bate still contested in the field of English studies. Utilizing the discourse community mode l of individual and co llective identity, I present evidence of the politics of interpellati on latent in traditional writing instruction that debases vernacular Englishes. I then argue that postcolonial approaches to composition have to reconcile their apprecia tion of difference with the fieldÂ’s urge toward uniformity.
56 Chapter 3: Discourse Appropriation and the Politics of Writing Instruction In this chapter, postcolonial theory pr ovides a historical scope from which to consider the politics of identi ty and the politics of language standardization. In this chapter I argue that language standardization reproduces social strati fications constructed in colonialist contexts and thereby perpetua tes colonialist worldvi ews and realities. I explore the metaphors of discourse and di scourse appropriation commonly applied to language and language instruction and c onsider the significance of discourse communities to subaltern identity and agency. I then interrogate the role of the writing program in constructing studentÂ’s identities and argue that post colonial theory is useful for addressing responsibly the highly politic al project of language standardization. DISCOURSE COMMUNITIES AND LANGUAGE WAR The sociological problem of language standa rdization is in many ways an issue of interpellation. At the heart of the language wa r is an ideological war, in which competing points of view engage in hegemonic str uggle. As discussed previously, hegemonic struggle is by no means equal; ideological a nd state apparatuses se rve to construct and perpetuate particular ideologi es and epistemologies as the standard. In the postcolonial world, the academy is just one apparatus that maintains the traditionally privileged language of the colonial world. In the di scursive war for hegemonic dominance, the
57 academyÂ’s preference for the discourse of the white middle class maintains the traditional privileging of whiteness. Patricia BizzellÂ’s work on discourse comm unities is relevant to the construction of discourse standardizati on as a language war because Bizzell acknowledges the discrepancies between worldviews, agenda s and conventions of academic discourse communities and those of a large number of stude nts. According to Bizzell, social groups at work together on the same project Â“modi fy each otherÂ’s reasoning and language use in certain ways.Â” These ways eventually achieve conventions that serv e to bind the groups into discourse communities. These discourse communities share worldviews and agendas. Importantly, Bizzell points out that, Â“an individual can belong to more than one discourse community, but her access will be une qually conditioned by her social station.Â” In this way, participation in a discourse b ecomes far less innocent as writing instructors often make it appear to be. Access to academ ic discourse is easily available to those predisposed to the discourse th rough early interaction with th e community of speakers of standardized discourse. The composition course often plays the role of Â“gatekeeper,Â” limiting access to academic agency to those who already share the discourse, worldview, and agendas of the privileged class. Bizzell expands on the connection between discourse and worldview. She argues that Â“the mature exercise of thought and language capacities takes place in society, in interaction with other indi viduals, and this interacti on modifies the individualsÂ’ reasoning, speaking, and writing within a societ y.Â” This modification is, in reality, the mechanism of interpellation. IndividualsÂ’ iden tities are shaped in di scourse transactions as they learn the familiar ways of their part icular discourse communities. Bizzell insists
58 that the concept of a discourse community is far more comple x than general socialization. These communities are not merely Â“groups who have decided to abide by certain language-using rules.Â” Instead the idea of a discourse community implies not merely speaking, but interpreting, understanding the ways of knowing that are shared amongst the group, the understood, implied, epistemologi cal foundation of what is understood, the what-goes-without-saying. These ar e the conventions that are at the heart of a discourse, and while they remain hidden in implication, Bizzell suggests that they are the real conventions that determine succe ss in many writing classrooms. Discourse conventions include Â“social mores and taboos as well as speech patterns and styleÂ” and perhaps for this reason Bizzell insists that English studies investigate the language stra tification more seriously. For Bizzell, knowledge of discourse conventions implies acceptance of the highly political nature of language instruction, where particular di scourses are enforced and others are disenfranchised. It is important that Bizzell includes attention to reasoning in her defi nition of discourse conventions. Discourses shape s ubjectsÂ’ ways of thinking, con tinually steeri ng their ideas more closely to the particular work of the group. Not everyone in composition theory is satisfied with the discourse communities model of the writing classroom. While new rhet oricians are pleased with the attention these models place on linguistic difference and student success in writing programs, some still consider BizzellÂ’s and BartholomaeÂ’s tr eatments of the issue dichotomized and oversimplified. Debra Jacobs critiques the loss of the concept of voi ce that she believes was too hastily discarded in the rejection of expressivi sm. Jacobs is concerned by discourse communities theories that restrict wr iterÂ’s identity and agency. In these models,
59 Jacobs argues, writers can only achieve pr axis by Â“becoming an insider in a power structure.Â” Jacobs reclaims Platonic and Aris totelian notions of voice as the self acting socially, and applies BakhtinÂ’s concept of the individual participating in heteroglossia in order to present a social identity for the se lf that is not passively co-opted by master discourses, but instead actively intervenes in the interplay of discourse. Thus, JacobsÂ’s conception of voice Â“recognizes di scourse as situated both rh etorically and socially.Â” Jacobs rearticulates voice in order to shift away from inne r-directed notions of personal self-expression, while also avoiding outer-dir ected constructions of the writer as a Â“thoroughly collectivized self whose intentions, mean s, and endsÂ—in short, whose voiceÂ—are invented by the communityÂ” (Â“VoiceÂ” 82). M. Jimmie Killingsworth argues against the trend toward pastoral conceptions of discourse communities. For Killingsworth, Â“the term discourse community can lead an analyst astray by prompting an uncritical acceptance of Â‘commun ityÂ’ as a Â‘naturalÂ’ element or transcendental category.Â” Ca reful of the politic s of representation, Killingsworth provides a useful caution against pastoral conceptions of community; since all communities are socially constructed, Â“t he act of identifying communities is never innocentÂ” (110). Killingsworth would like a conceptualization of discourse communities that takes into account the negative as well as positive influences of discourse communities on the minds of those who seek or are coerced into membership. Killingsworth identifies the juxtaposition of discourse communities as an invasion in which outside Â“interlopers within an established discourse community want to recreate the community by importing values and practi ces from previous experiences, from different places.Â” This langua ge battle takes place outward ly in the local discourse
60 community, and inwardly as the individual in terloper clashes with the global dominant discourses that attempt to construct the indivi dualÂ’s identity. Killingsworth states that, Â“in dialectical combat, the interlopers will even tually either conform to the established requirements of the new community or cha nge the community to accommodate their own perspectivesÂ” (120-21). Here ag ain, interpellation works in contention with interpolation as discourse communities intersect in the discur sive transactions of lived reality. In the classroom, the established requirements of the academy serve one community, while others strive for membershi p. These new members must either change to meet the requirements of the discourse or attempt to chan ge the discourse to reflect their entry into membership. While Bizzell insists that writing instru ctors must acknowledge the politics of policing standardized discourse while dise nfranchising speakers of nonstandardized English, she also searches for a means by which to defend academic discourse as the language that traditionally has bound those me mbers of the discourse community of the academy who share in the pursuit of schol arship. Bizzell imagines the discourse community of the academy as a site of self -criticism and debate than shuns unanimity: Â“Unlike many other human communities, the academic community has embodied in its discourse the conventions to ensure that dialogue cannot long remain silentÂ” (139). Hence, Bizzell prefers to defend the need for a Â“standard language of academic discourse,Â” that provides the Â“educated ethos Â” of the schooled, ed ited, credible speaking, writing subject. Â“Writers who use Standard Engl ish fluently,Â” Bizzell insists, Â“show that they have been in school, that they have learned to take pains with their workÂ—in short that they have received the training nece ssary to the academic communityÂ’s rigorous
61 intellectual tasks.Â” For Bizzell, this justifica tion of standardization avoids Â“claims that other forms of English are cognitively inferior to the standard form.Â” BizzellÂ’s optimism about academic discourse conventions, however, border on naive at times, perhaps because she, more than many compositionists, is so honest in revealing the fact that all discourse communities, including academic discourse, are historical constructs that are linguistically equal, but ideologically divergent. Bizzell argues that, Â“discourses exist by virtue of sharing certain assumptions, protocols and practices that enable them to deal collectiv ely with their experiences in the material world.Â” Yet regrettably, Bizzell does not ac knowledge the many ways in which this discourse she heralds is steeped in assumpti ons, protocols, and practices that serve to maintain racialized forms of oppression c onstituted in the communityÂ’s historical experience in the material world (140, 144). Instead, Bizzell asserts idealistically that Â“the academic community undertakes communal thinking projects for the larger society,Â” and insists that Â“the object is not to get peopl e to think alike, but rather to get them to think together about a challenge that has em erged in interaction in the worldÂ” (144). While this is what Bizzell would like to beli eve is the goal of writing programs, few have achieved such goals thus far. The grandios e notion of academic discourse still has not been actualized, but this romantic notion conti nues to perpetuate the social injustices of linguistic stratification. Xin Liu Gale provides an analysis of discourse appropriation in the writing classroom that problematizes the discursive hierarchy Bizzell and others confirm when they get Â“carried away by th eir belief in the righteous ness of their own Â‘national discourse.Â’Â” Citing DerridaÂ’s treatment of the multi-situational effects of rhetoric, Gale
62 contends that Â“in the writing cl ass, whether a certain discourse has a positive or negative effect on student s depends on how the t eacher and students are related to this discourseÂ—politically, economically, socia lly, culturally, and li nguisticallyÂ—and how they interact with this disc ourse.Â” For Gale this complicat es BizzellÂ’s academic discourse argument because Â“to argue convincingly whethe r one discourse is preferable than the others requires an examination of the relations hips of various discour ses in the classroom and an analysis of the ways in which they in teract with one anotherÂ” (64). Bizzell does call for more attention in writing instruction to the very nature of discourse conventions themselves, suggesting the need for atten tion to the politics involved in discourse appropriation. Yet her defense of academic discourse calls for, rather than produces, a well-needed historical analys is of the understated discourse conventions and worldviews that constitute the historically produced Â“educated ethos.Â” Any such analysis would surely require close attenti on to the material conditions from which the ethos arose, including the historical conditi on of slavery and colonialism. While defenses of language standardizati on abound in the field of English studies, postcolonialist studies still remains in disagr eement over the efficacy of the language of the colonizer to communicate the concerns, th e critiques, and the self-affirmations that constitute the myriad discourses of post colonial discourse communities. For Bill Ashcroft, Standard English does retain a leve l of neutrality, and co lonial discourse can serve as a useful tool for the postcolonial to interpolate the traditionalist configurations of power and transfigure social structures. Ashcroft believes that Â“mastering the masterÂ’s language has been a key strategy of self-em powerment in all postcolonial societies.Â” Focusing on the Â“cultural capit alÂ” dominant languages contai n, Ashcroft argues that the
63 very position of the Â“Â’proper, Â’ the Â‘correct,Â’ the Â‘civili zedÂ’Â” can be appropriated by colonial subjects, and that this appropria tion can be a form of empowerment (58). Interpolation has been largely accepted as a reality in postcolonial studies. Citing FanonÂ’s famous declaration that, Â“to speak a la nguage is to take on the world,Â” Ashcroft finds much weight in the idea of Â“taking on,Â” because, he argues, Â“there can be no doubt that a colonial language gives access to auth ority.Â” Ashcroft expands FanonÂ’s ideas by defining the act of appropria tion as one-sided, arguing that when the speaker takes on the language, the language does not take on the sp eaker. Instead, for Ashcroft, the access to authority gained through the pr ocess of appropriati on does not come about as a feature of the language itself, as if Â“through a proce ss by which the speaker absorbs, unavoidably, the culture from which the language emerge.Â” In other words, rather than discourse appropriation creating a cultural clone whose acc ess to authority comes at the price of her or his own agenda, Ashcroft finds that disc ourse appropriation can result in a Â“comprador identityÂ” that emerges Â“through the act of speaking itself, the act of self-assertion involved in using the language of the colonizerÂ” (57). Interpolation should not be heralded without some concern. Certainly the acceptance of interpolative possibilities does not negate the reality of interpellation. The problem with AshcroftÂ’s and BizzellÂ’s sangui ne treatments of standardized English appropriation, for instance, is evidenced in Elai ne RichardsonÂ’s exploration of the case of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rich ardson finds Justice ThomasÂ’s scant words on his early education enlighteni ng in regard to his present political participation in the shaping of the American Justice system. Th omasÂ’s educational e xperience was riddled with self-shame over what he referred to as his Â“Gullah,Â” the versi on of Black Vernacular
64 English spoken in his community. Richardson st rongly believes that Â“t he general societal devaluation of Black peopleÂ’s language and cu lture helped to shape ThomasÂ’s language attitudesÂ” (41). This argument represents some efforts by rhetoricians to track the debilitating effects of langua ge stratification on student solidarity with their home discourse communities. In RichardsonÂ’s analysis, Justice ThomasÂ’s example reveals that, in losing the language war to standardized discourse, nonstandard discourse communities are losing the ideological war with white supremacy. ThomasÂ’s insecurities about speaking the language of his community in the authoritative world of the classroom, his eventual appropriation of standardized discourse, a nd the concurrent adopti on of that selfsame degrading of BVE contributes greatly to his l ack of solidarity with the concerns of the African American community. For Rich ardson, Â“Thomas is the product of a consciousness that has Black people worki ng their way into the system, adopting or adapting dominant cultural values, gaining educ ation and training that elevates them to the positions inside of government where they can affect change, and carrying out policies to benefit Black people as a groupÂ” ( 41). This worldview shares much with those arguments made by Ashcroft and others in de fense of the appropria tion of standardized discourse as a means toward empowerment. The problem is that while maintaining colonial discourses as Â“the st andard, the correct, the authoritative,Â” those defenses so stigmatize postcolonial languages such as BV E, that the agenda of postcolonialism is sacrificed. Successful appropr iation the conventions, assu mptions, and worldviews of standardized discourse often comes at the price of the vernacular. Justice ThomasÂ’s example reveals how often academic discourse silences the transformative agenda of the
65 postcolonial and replaces that agenda with a strong solidarity with the status quo that does not empower the original discourse community in any way. Justice Thomas is a very interesting example of this problem of academic interpellation because this African Ameri can Judge would seem so empowered and so successful, in other words an exemplary exam ple of the access to social acceptance and accomplishment that Standardized English is supposed to provide. However, as Richardson points out, Justice Â“ThomasÂ’s silenc e does not allow him to fulfill this role. He appears to many to have forgotten the le ssons of struggle and history, suppressing his non-institutionally sanctioned Gullah (and the values of cultural equality that it represents) for institutionally sanctioned si lence and the voting behavior of an archconservative.Â” (41). Here then lies the di sparity between the dr eam of empowerment through standardized language appropriation and the reality of cultural colonialism. RichardsonÂ’s examination of Justice ThomasÂ’s early la nguage education and later voting patterns reveals the long term damage that may be caused by the attitudes teachers share about non-sanctioned discourses while teaching students to appropriate the standardized discourse that emerged from a history of racial ized oppression. Â“As language educators and scholars in this increasingly complex society,Â” the compositionists warns, Â“we must stay abreast of the source of our own language attitudes, as they may help us to revise our peda gogical approaches and influence the language attitudes and policies of future just ices of the supreme CourtÂ” (41-42). Arguments defending standardization pl ace themselves in very dangerous situations, resting often on rather shaky, ideologically-lad en ground. The linguistic reality is that there is no sustainable evidence of the superiority of st andardized discourse;
66 instead, the arguments quickly become a defens e of historically determined conventions of speech, born from traditions that can no l onger be heralded. Parakrama problematizes the academic defense of the so-called sta ndard by placing the pursuit of universal discourse in postcolonial terms. Â“The uni versal support for an educated standardÂ” Parakrama writes, Â“which has remained unques tioned in the disciplin e, displaces issues of class, race and gender in language. It is du e to this insensitivity to the social dynamic as struggle against hegemony that lingui sts can defend postcolonial English on the grounds of neutralityÂ” (21). Th e neutrality argument fails when standard English is placed in a historical and linguistic context. In both contexts, standard English cannot maintain itself as an innocent bystander in the language war. In light of the history of colonialism that has produced the standardized discourse constructed and perpetuated it the academy, and in light of the reality that this standard is in no way superior to any other form of E nglish, discourses that directly engage in hegemonic contention with the worldviews of the colonial world have more weight, more value, and more esteem than those who preserve them. They should therefore be appreciated in the academy and should not be categorized as sub-standard. Parakrama finds little worth in arguments that standardi zed English is merely a tool, and therefore neutral, open to a variety of competing ideo logies. Instead, Parakrama argues that Â“pleas for neutrality of English in the postcolonial context are as ubi quitous and insistent as they are unsubstantiated and unexplainedÂ” and s uggests that the neutrality argument is specious, and laden with a hidden agenda of neocolonialism. Â“It is as if the neutrality of English is a metonym for the neut rality of linguistics itself,Â” the theorist argues, Â“so that there is more at stake in this displaced va lorization.Â” For Parakrama, it would seem that
67 the neutrality of the colonial language is de pendent on the neutrality of colonialism itself, and that this in turn obtains the Â“neutrality -objectivity-scientificity of the derivative discourses of colonialismÂ” (26). This unquestionable authority granted standa rdized English, as official discourse of Â“objectiveÂ” scientificicty, becomes ye t another means by which standardization conceals its ties to colonial forms of power. As Parakrama explains, Â“Standard languages, despite all disclaimers to the contrary, disc riminate against minorities, marginal groups, women, the underclass, and so on, albeit in diffe rent ways, in the subtle manner that our Â‘enlightenedÂ’ times call for, si nce overt elitism is no longer tenable.Â” Placing the debate at the heart of a Gramscian war of ideology, Parakrama argue s that, Â“the neutrality of Standard Language/Appropriate Di scourse has thus become a useful way of dissimulating hegemonyÂ” (41). Standardization here is tied closely to interpe llation, not only through the insistence on one way of speaking, th inking, and uttering, but also through the demonization of nonstandardized, postcolo nial discourses. The dissimulating of hegemonic struggle operates in the writi ng classroom by means of uniformity and through shame. The idea of a standard seems innocent enough; we all need to share a common discourse in order to aid effective communication, maintain reliable conventions for universally understood texts, and facilitate language adoption by new members of the English speaking world. However, the language of Â“the standardÂ” is grounded in a language of superiority, and the chosen standard derives from a discourse community that historically actively determined itselfÂ—wrongly, but viol entlyÂ—the standard of racial, intellectual, and authoritative superiority. All of these determinations remain invisible,
68 yet palpable in the ardent defenses of sta ndardization, in the hear tfelt insecurities of postcolonial discourse communities, and in the countless failing grades that drive members of those communities in droves away from the dream of transformative scholarship. In the following sections, the possibilities for agency and interpolation are explored in the context of the composition cla ssroom. I consider the choices available to writing program administrators to fight linguistic col onization and dehegemonizing forces in their writing programs. I also e xplore the pedagogical measures compositionists are taking toward those ends. This is a very difficult endeavor, however. Because education is so strongly steeped in the history and structure of colonialism, the colonialist zeal continues to inform the teaching of writi ng, both from within the discipline and from without in the social world. I believe that wr iting program administrators must interrogate their writing programs and consider the position their programs are taking on the language war. DISCOURSE APPROPRIATION AS LINGUISTIC COLONIALISM Much of the published scholarship in com position theory has shifted, of late, from the issue of appropriation that was so cruc ial to compositionists of the postcolonial Freirean pedagogical school to more apolitic ized treatments of student expression. As writers like Patricia Bizzell and Zebrosky argue for a political critique of language instruction and its cultu ral impacts, their attempts to dr aw attention to the indoctrinating effects of English instruction have left th em open to accusations of indoctrination. The result, unfortunately, has been an impasse th at has paved the way for a second wave of
69 expressionist rhetoric, advocati ng in the expressivist vein of Peter Elbow that students Â“think for themselvesÂ” and suggesting that a Â“teacherless classroomÂ” can be devoid of indoctrination. Expressionism still, however, sp ends too little time theorizing and almost no time politicizing the teacher less teacherÂ’s obligation to assess studentsÂ’ writing. With a pedagogical approach that dismisses assess ment, assessment tends to remain in the current-traditional paradigm, legitimizing white normativity, standardizing the discourse of the status quo, and keeping the gate sl ammed shut against the tide of would-be scholars whose discourses bear the marks of class and kin. The critiques of current-traditional pedagogy that seemed so crucial and groundbreaking in the 80Â’s have yet to change the paradigm of current-traditional composition scholarship, as BizzellÂ’s applica tion of Thomas Khun seemed to promise. While weÂ’ve all been made to understand th at discourse is ce ntral to knowledge construction and to identity construction as well, teachers of writing seem hesitant to accept the responsibility that this knowledge demands. The direct relationship drawn between thinking and writing and between langu age instruction and identity construction presents such a challenge to writing pedagogy that the field seems unable to fathom what to do from here. This impasse may also stem fr om the contradictory na ture of the field of rhetoric and composition itself, on one hand an ancient theoretical practice, mapping out the relationships between language, ident ity, power and knowledge; and on the other hand a modern administrative practice of em ploying cheap, inexperienced labor to illpreparedly instruct and assess an ever-i ncreasing body of thousands, less and less prepared each year.
70 Perhaps it is no surprise that the balan ce between the contradi ctory but concurrent interests in critical scholarship and mass e ducation in the field is mediated by both a sense of wild expressivist abandon and stubbor n current-traditionalist adherence to rules of grammatical micromanagement. One only has to imagine a first year graduate student on the first day of teaching compositionÂ—anthologized reader in one hand, grammar handbook in the other, in between a quick confident pace blurring the frantic darts of the eyesÂ—to understand the political delicacy of such a balance, particularly in the context of postcoloniality. The reality is, however, that in the context of postcoloniality, a blind approach to the politics of writing instructi on is insufficient and less than admirable. If compositionists are indeed searching for alternatives to outdated cognitive models, then they must accept the reality that language instruction is political. Writing instructors train students to wr ite and foster studentsÂ’ skills at thinking. This work affects studentsÂ’ thinking in numerous ways, some mo re generative than ot hers. In addition, the teaching of writing is a means by which to police writing; through assessment, writing instructors normalize particular agreed-upon and often discretionary linguistic patterns and forms. These assessments serve to determ ine entry into and exclusion from classesÂ— both academic and social. We are trained, some more than others, to teach students to think, and to express those thoughts in writing; ignoring this responsibility does not make this process go away. Rather, students are st ill taught to think and express thoughtsÂ—but Â“Whose thoughts?Â” is left unquestioned. This is the questionable element of discourse appropriation that is often unconsidered in writing pedagogy. In policing language we invariably police expression. M odes of expression constitu te discourses and discourse
71 communities, some sanctioned and legitimized through mechanisms such as education, and others Othered, disenfranchised and chastised into the margins. BartholomaeÂ’s concept of Â“appropriating (a nd being appropriated by)Â” discourse is intriguing to this postcolonial analysis of composition Â‘s challenges. As discussed earlier, BartholomaeÂ’s use of discourse comm unity as a model for the writing classroom offer a means by which to discuss classed, raci alized and gendered identities without the problematic pitfalls of essentialism. Identit y, here, is an intersubj ective social formation that is primarily discursive and, naturally, historical. That is, not Â“naturalÂ” in the biological sense, but in the sens e that discourse is produced in historical sequence, so that what is known is resultant of what has b een known, and so that how we know ourselves is necessarily the result of how we have been discursively defined in the past. Thus is the nature of discourse; while it binds us socia lly through shared unders tandings of reality and our places within it, disc ourse also binds us psychol ogically to the ideological underpinnings of the epistemic past. The idea of binding, however, is not as severe as connoted in a binding legal contract; all contracts, after a ll, can be renegotiated, strength ened, or at times, violently, even maliciously broken. In many ways, however, the concept of history as a contract can be maintained. The resonances of the past serv e to maintain power relations that privilege those to whom historical circumstances ha s granted authority; they serve as well to construct the social codes that can exist with in those necessarily protected relations, and to provide a sense of order that can be po liced by necessary bu reaucratic and penal measures. At the same time, we, the presen t subjects, by existing in a world produced through the machine of history, are de facto signees of the ideological formations and
72 decrees that precede us. We can change, reconf igure, even subvert our inheritances of history, but we cannot operate outside of th eir reach, for our real ities can only exist within historically produced realms of discourse. Within realms of discourse, subjects can achieve agency, though agency is available in different discursive forms a nd access to forms of agency remains more available to some and less to others. Typicall y, the most recognized forms of agency have been primarily understood in terms of wr itten discourse, though Bhabha and others caution against locating hegemonic agency simp ly in the manipulation of technical and textual literacy. Agency i nvolves active participation in the discursive interactionsÂ— verbal and writtenÂ—that constitute hegem onic struggle. However, with the ever expanding growth of textual and technologica l hegemony in globalized culture, written texts do serve to produce historical record, c ontemporary policy, and linguistic standard. The written text plays a str ong role in construction of hi storical reality, as written discourse and written version of reality often servesas the primary records of history. The written text is purposely ineffi cient, however in recoding the historical balance between the dominating force of inherited hegemonies produced by imperialism, colonialism, and patriarchy on one hand, and the transforma tive contra-discourses that have been managing, through subversive disc ursive practices, to wres t the human world from the barbaric grips of col onialist ideologies. Bhabha is correct to draw our attenti on to the non-textual hegemonic victories found in the discursive practices of everyday life. However, rhetoricians and postcolonial theorists must address the materiality of written discourse. They must analyze the ways in which historically produced hegemonies are perpetuated through the control and
73 proliferation of authoritative discourses a nd written texts and through the practices of exclusivity that continue to restrict these discourses to those pr ivileged by the dominant hegemonies. It is this excl usivity that makes education complicit in the continued influence of the age of slavery. The exclusiv ity encouraged in language standardization wrests the writing classroom from the co mfortable construction of the democratic Â“contact zone.Â” No longer considered the bastion of democracy and equal opportunity, education instead has come to be defined as the gatekeeper, maintaining class barriers by policing and standardizing forms of discourse, and by stratifying knowledge and pedagogical aims along class lines. Hegemonic struggle occurs in many forms in many areas at once. Power is shared and contested by both organi c and traditional intellectuals. The tension between interpellation and interpolation make it di fficult to pin down and define the powers at play in discursive transactions The visibility and materialit y of standardized and textual discourse leaves it language open to char ges of overt indoctrination. Meanwhile, the discursive efforts that reconfigure hege monic formations are not often sanctioned, recorded or institutionalized. Hence, interpel lation tends to be easier to claim than interpolation, which reveals itself, ironi cally, in accusations of interpellation. The following pages of this chapter will situat e writing program administrators at the crossroads between interpellation and interpolat ion and will investigate the politics of this location.
74 COLONIZATION AND IDEN TITY POLITICS IN WRITING PROGRAMS When writing instructors engage their students in the process of discourse appropriation, they participate in identity po litics. Whether facilitating interpellation or interpolation, the teaching of writing involves the construction of studentsÂ’ subjectivities. This politics should not cause wr iting instructors to avoid the issue of appropriation in the classroom. Rather, they should make it the subject matter of the course, and allow students to acknowledge the ways in which di scourses actively appropriate while being appropriated. Bartholomae is on the right track ; college writing is much like joining a community, learning its conventions and subjec t positions, its ideologies as well as its mannerismsÂ—the fact is, the two go hand in hand. It is when these discursive idiosyncrasies become second nature that one truly evinces mastery of a discourseÂ— when the speaker is no longer trying to Â“ca rry off the bluff.Â” But depending on what one does with this mastery, internalization can be called many things, fr om interpellation and colonization, to interpolation and hegemonic agency. The writing instructor is in a curious position, at once the colonizer, disciplining language and privileging the discourse of the status quo, at the same time the revolutionary, equipping discursive agents with the tools to dismantle the prevailing system. In either case, the position of the wr iting instructor is hi ghly political; perhaps this is why the implications of pedagogical decisions in the field of composition are so widely theorized. Debra Jacobs provides a us eful critique of the discourse appropriation model that often dismisses the importance of process in writing classrooms. Jacobs explores the Â“vexing relationship between, on the one hand, the role of emancipatory classroom teacher, and, on the other, institu tional disciplinary authority,Â” and contends
75 that a return to process pe dagogy will assist in Â“disrupt ing the Â‘flowsÂ’ of power and control in the writing classroomÂ” (668, 673). J acobs cautions against the current rejection of process pedagogy in critical writing progr ams and argues that writing instructors and students should attend to th e process by which ideas ar e considered, shaped, and communicated in academic discourses. Thes e kinds of Â“in(ter)v entional practices,Â” Jacobs contends, infuse the classroom with cr itical inquiry by Â“int ervening in quotidian (uncritical) consciousnessÂ” and Â“opening up possibilities for processual acts of cognition.Â” This critical approach to writing and thinking processes helps to avoid the interpellative forces at play when st udents are asked to write for teachers. The interpellative force of education needs constant attention in language pedagogies that critique, evaluate, and grad e studentsÂ’ reflections on reality. Composition and postcolonial studies are alike in their pr eoccupation with appropr iation, as well both should, given what we now know about epis temological formations and hegemonic dominance, as well as what we know about language and identity. Bahri believes that both fields have a Â“vested inte rest in examining issues of authority and power as sources of psychological and social conf lictÂ” (71). For Bahri, the imp etus for postcolonial studies in composition is in the classroom, where both students and teachers are increasingly representative of postcolonial cultures. The postcolonial teacher, es pecially, injects the field with new concerns, both pedagogical and theoretical. As Bahri indicates, Â“increasingly, postcolonial theory deals not only with the impact of colonial education on individual and collective postcol onial identity but also addre sses the politics of education in the Anglo American academy where many postcolonial critics now find themselvesÂ” (69).
76 Bahri is quite interested in the presen ce of Â“the third world postcolonial, the authentically ethnic teacher w ho bears, wittingly or otherw ise, the welcome flag of visible diversity.Â” Quite prag matically, Bahri declares the presence of postcoloniality by declaring the presence of postcoloniality; itÂ’s here, because itÂ’s here Â—because IÂ’m here. Â“The presence of [the third world postcolonials ] along with that of a more diverse student body at a time of growing interest in diversit y,Â” Bahri believes, has brought postcolonial issues to the table in the field of rhetor ic and composition, Â“coloring the fieldÂ” in surprising ways (68). While postcolonial theory has recently found a place in postcolonial theory, however, Bahri voices some concern about the efficacy of postcolonialism in composition, and considers whether the Â“containe d radicalism of constructs such as the postcolonial, authorized by in stitutional sanctity, and a ltogether too suspiciously welcome in the academy,Â” should give those in composition studies more than a moment of pauseÂ” The postcolonial position in composition can place theorists in the awkward position of Â“searching for an Other.Â” It is well worth consideri ng the political position one takes when speaking on behalf of postcolon ial subjects that do not define themselves as such, or those that would much prefer to identify with what, in postcolonial constructs, could only be defined as the authoritative oppre ssor. It is equally im portant to consider the political position of the postcolonia l teacherÂ—marked by differenceÂ—at once representative of the history of racial ru le, working within the dominant discourse to dismantle and transform the hegemonic struct ure, at the same time spokesperson for the dominant discourse, prime example of the appropriated colonized other.
77 The conflicting roles of the writing instructor compel postcolonial compositionists to delve into the politics of identity and to examine obsessively the politics of appropriation. We are certain th at we have the potential to do great cultural damage when we teach our students to appr opriate the dominant discourse in place of those of their upbringing; we know our courses have the potential to change not only what they write, but how they think, andÂ—scariest of allÂ—who they are. And we know that this is not something we can ignore. But when we attempt to articulate these real and vital concernsÂ—much like the postcolonial theorist s who fall into pitfal lsÂ—we often run the risk of diminishing our stude ntsÂ’ power even further. Calling on the postcolonial theorists who a void the pitfalls of representative politics, Gary Olson argues that, Â“postc olonial theory can illuminate how despite studentsÂ’ attempts to empower themselves by learning to inhabit subject positions, and despite our own efforts to facilitate this process, we construc t students as other, reinforcing their position in the margins wher e it is doubly difficult to gain the kind of empowerment we ostensibly wish to encourag eÂ” (Â“EncounteringÂ” 89). Here is where the self-reflective nature of postcol onial theory can assist in laying bare our vulnerable position of working with and against the so cial order at once. Lu appreciates the postcolonial studies in composition because it provides a reminder that Â“to proclaim oneself a radical worker inside US English Stud ies is to confront its official function in global and international domi nationÂ” and Â“to wrestle with our complicity with the compulsion of English to Â‘helpÂ’ the so-cal led Third world, minority, student, or basic writers by creating and legisla ting their Â‘needsÂ’Â” (10).
78 Complicating the politics of writing instru ction further is the legitimization of Â“standard English,Â” a discourse that is so increasingly challenged and decontextualized, that for many it is growing obsolete outside the parameters of the college classroom. British linguist David Crystal has analyzed the growing fluctuations in the English language with great curiosity, and finds the imp lications of these fluctuations difficult to decipher. Also of keen interest to Crystal is the tension growing between Â“the need for intelligibility and the need for identity [that] often pull peopleÂ—and countriesÂ—in opposing directions. The former, Â“Crystal argues, Â“motivates the learning of an international language, [ Â… ] the latter motiv ates the promotion of ethnic language and culture.Â” CrystalÂ’s investigation shave led hi m to conclude that Â“conflict is the common consequence when either position is promoted insensitively.Â” These conflicts can have even greater implications when they arise in American schools, which are responsible for educating nearly four times as many mothe r-tongue speakers of English as any other nation in the world. Analyzing the relationship between cu ltural identity and national language, Crystal admits that the rejection of E nglish in any nation would have important consequences for the nationÂ’s identity, a nd Â“it can cause emotional ripples (both sympathetic and antagonistic) around the English-speaking world. While few such rejections have occurred, and where they ha ve occurred the populations have been too few to have a Â“notable impactÂ” on the status of English, Crystal sees on the horizon the potential for quite a notable impact in Am erica, where, he agues, Â“on grounds of population size alone, a major change in the so ciolinguistic situation could turn ripples into waves.Â” For this reason, Crystal believes th at Â“the future status of English must be
79 bound up to some extent with the futureÂ” of th e United States, from whence Â“so much of the power which has fueled the growth of the English language during the twentieth century has stemmedÂ” (127). According to Crystal, Â“StandardÂ” Englis h supports urgings for intelligibility by balancing the pull imposed by th e need for identity that has been Â“making New Englishes increasingly dissimilar from British EnglishÂ” ( 178). Crystal is careful not to discredit these Â“New Englishes,Â” nor in sinuate that they should be in any way delegitimizedÂ—at least not openly. Â“It seems,Â” he begins, Â“that if a community wishes its way of speaking to be considered a Â‘languageÂ’ and if they have the political po wer to support their decision, there is nothing which can stop them doing so. The present-day ethos,Â” Crystal admits (reluctantly?) Â“is to allow communities to deal with their own internal policies themselves, as long as these are not perceive d as being a threat to othersÂ” (179) What results in the field of linguistics is hands th rown up into Â“the winds of linguistic change,Â” and a close investigation and codificati on of the mounting chaosÂ—or the blooming heteroglossiaÂ—of English in the postcolonial era. Britain especially is observing closely th e unpredictable winds of change in the English language, as they have been for ma ny more centuries that the United States can brag. However, Crystal readily admits that Â“when even the larg est English-speaking nation, the USA turns out to have only about 20 percent of the worldÂ’s English speakers, it is plain that no one can now claim sole owne rship.Â” This reality in many ways serves to define English as a global langu age: Â“its usage is not restrict ed by countries or (as in the case of some artificial langua ges) by governing bodies.Â” So it seems that English has no owner.
80 Perhaps as a Â“free agent,Â” English has the freedom to prove its efficacy for any project and sign with one team today, and an opposing one the next, and, perhaps, it can even switch sports. What linguists are not ofte n willing to do however, is articulate the ways in which history plays a strong part in the directions the winds of change take. By throwing their hands up in the air, lin guists may evade the dangerous work of sociolinguistic manipulation, which could, in this tense climate c onstitute a kind of cultural genocide. In this way they stand on safer ground than the compositionists, whose hands are in the thick of language politics grappling with the academyÂ’s impulse for standardization and the postcolo nial impulse for difference. Writing programs consist of contradictory agendas. Writing program administrators work to produce linguistic uniformity in order to foster mutual intelligibility in the academy. At the same time, critical writing programs work to produce critical thinking in or der to foster hegemonic agency in their students. These conflicting agendas complicate the role of the writing program administrator and leave writing programs open to charges of insensi tivity, irresponsibility, and indoctrination. Writing programs place themselves in a better position to respond to these charges when they take the time to historicize their pract ices and to embrace th e reality of identity politics. It is my contention that when wr iting program administrators accept the reality of identity politics in their programs they can defend their pedagogical and administrative decisions more strongly and t hus can withstand the outside forces that attempt to determine for them their goals a nd objectives. The follo wing chapter addresses some of the outside pressures on writing prog rams and provides postcolonial methods for responding actively to the constant atte mpts to colonize the writing classroom.
81 Chapter 4: The Writing Program Administrator The Writing Program Administrator works in a world of great possibility and great limitation. In the previous chapter, the writing progr am administrator was often described as existing in tension between c ontradictory agendas, or at a crossroads between the discourse of the academy and th at of the student. The WPA must function well under pressure, and under great levels of visibility. WPAs must cope not only with the pressures of scheduling, staffing and m onitoring a vast number of courses each semester, but they must also cope with the concerns voiced from departmental, university-wide, and na tionwide complaints about the quality of student writing. Writing programs are often the scapegoats fo r rants about the quality of education as well as complaints about educational disenfranchisement of minoritized groups. I believe that one of the first steps to handling the pressures of the WP A position is to cope with the identity politics that constitutes WPA work. Accepting the identity politics of writing instruction requires that WPAs r ecognize and defend their own political positioning. It also requires WPAs to situate and defend their political positionings within the context of prevailing histor ical and social theories on lan guage and identity. This selfreflective work will lead to more responsible and defensible pedagogical practice and will better equip WPAs to face the difficult chal lenges posed by students, parents, professors, administrators, and legislators who would all like to believe that th ey know how best to run a writing program.
82 POSTCOLONIAL APPROCAHES TO WPA WORK When grappling with the politics of identi ty, writing program administrators often take what they consider the safe route, a voiding any overt implica tions of complicity or accountability when possible and responding in traditional ways that donÂ’t draw too much attention. Even new paths in WPA wo rk are frequently offshoots that quickly merge back into the old traditions of marki ng grammar, genre, and style conventions and ignoring the politics of language stratification and ideological interpellation at work in such methods. New pressures from inside th e field of composition are challenging the bliss of political ignorance enjoyed in current -traditionalist programs. Forced out of the beaten path, proactive WPAs have looked to theory to provide the new roads that will address and respond to the politics of writing instruction. Postcolonial historicism lays bare the relations of power lurking behind the interpla y of subjectivity, sanctioned discourse, hegemonic struggle, and the teachi ng of writing. Postcolonial theory provides WPAs with direction, leading them through the murky depths of colonial history, drawing attention to the resonances of colonial ism still at work in the writing classroom. Jeanne Gunner provides a history of the formation of writing programs in higher education that is useful for placing WPA work in the contex t of identity politics. Gunner argues that writing programs are ideological si tes that are often laden with traditionalist values and assumptions inherited from their original practices and from the prevailing ideologies that were at play in the form ation of educational pe dagogy and administration. For Gunner, since writing programs and WPAs often enter after disc iplinary apparatuses are already in place, they are rarely directly involved in the initial formation of writing program goals, pedagogical directions, a nd ideological viewpo ints. Instead, writing
83 programs Â“come to existence in the wake of culturally sanctioned assumptions about language and in the fullness of already established cu ltural and institutio nal values.Â” This can be highly problematic for the WPA, as it makes any attempts at change an uphill battle against administrative structures and cu ltural norms that are already entrenched in the very foundation of the writing program. Consequently, Gunner adds, Â“theories that come into being within, or are imported in to established writing programs are already discursively constrained: they will comply with or be contained by the larger ideological structures and purposes of the programÂ” ( Ideology 9). Placing this problem in the context of postcoloniality, oftentimes, the Â“culturally sanctioned assumptions about languageÂ” entren ched in writing programs are uninformed and unethical notions based on antiquated hypot heses about the intellectual incapacities of classed and racialized discourse communities. These are the kinds of writing program foundations that make it possible for Ira S hor to declare that writing instructors participate in forms of apartheid. Too ofte n the ideological underpinnings that produce educational apparatuses in advance of writing programs are steeped in the discourse of racialization. Cornel West has produces some of the most cogent and substantial analyses of racializing practices in America. WestÂ’s analyses include crit iques of educational apparatuses and writing programs that continue the racializing agenda. West argues that, Â“the initial structure of m odern discourse in the West Â‘secretesÂ’ the idea of white supremacy.Â” West refers to this Â“secretionÂ” as Â“the underside of modern discourse,Â” an inevitable historical consequence (Â“RaceÂ” 71) The cultural secreti on of white supremacy serves to explain to some degree WestÂ’s asse rtion that, Â“the notion that black people are
84 human beings is a relatively new discovery in the modern West.Â” Ce rtainly the history of language stratification has been largely info rmed by the discourse of white supremacy. The sooner WPAs accept the grounds upon which th e stratification of language rests, the sooner they can go about the work of dismantli ng the policies and practic es that still rest on those grounds. But as Gunner suggests this work is fraught with difficulty. West would agree that changing racialized assumptions in the academy will take a great deal of time and energy. As of now, West contends, Â“The idea of black e quality in beauty, culture and intellectual capacity remains prob lematic and controversial within prestigious halls of learning and sophisticated intellectual circlesÂ” (70). The ideology of white supremacy informs writing instructorsÂ’ insistence on defining Black Vernacular English speakersÂ’ di fficulties with appropr iating standardized English as cognitive deficiencies. It inform s writing instructorsÂ’ refusals to recognize and validate the breadth of lingui stic research exposing standard ized discourse as a social construct with rules and conventio ns that exist in all varieties of English and with stylistic and structural elements that, when compared with other English va rieties are, frankly, nothing special (Smitherman, Delpit and Do wdy, Swearingen, Richardson). Where standardized American English becomes special is in the so ciolinguistic world, where the preference for and enforcement of this vari ety of English maintains not so much a standard of verbal communicati on as a standard of social stratification wherein white discourse and colonialist c onstructions of the world, th e self, and the Other are standardized. The standardization of white middle class discourse is enforced in the writing classroom, where appropriation of standard ized discourse determines the economic
85 possibilities and limitations for many African Americans. In a ddition, appropriation involves a self sabotage, as Af rican Americans are asked to ta ke on a discourse steeped in white supremacy. This appropriation is offered as the greatest means by which to achieve hegemonic agency in the struggle to eradicate the residual hegemonic forces of the discourse of white supremacy. This promise is rarely fulfilled, however, by those countless students who are quickly appropriate d by the discourse of white privilege as they shamefacedly attempt to rid them selves of the mark of Other. Gunner openly recognizes th e ideological underpinnings of writing programs and argues that in doing so, writing pr ogram administrators are in be tter positions to be agents of change, and to challenge and transform those ideological positions that, while instrumental in producing the present c onditions in many writing programs, prove themselves ineffective at addressing the reincarnations of co lonialism and white supremacy that persist in present social forma tions, reincarnations that require still more ardent resistant rhetorics of the kind that historically have primarily bourgeoned from nonstandardized varieties of th e English language. Accepting as truth that, Â“the writing program has a more cultural than academic ag enda, and the WPA is as much directed by this agenda as he or she is the director of it, Gunner argues that Â“real change can follow only if we recognize that the fo rm of the writing program is conservative and inherently hostile to systemic changeÂ” (Â“ColdÂ” 30). This recognition should not lead to resignation, but rather to an urge to e quip oneself as much as possible with the kind of ethical grounding that the agenda of postc olonial transformation provides. By exposing the underlying ideological st ructures in a wri ting program, WPAs form agendas of change by avoiding the attemp ted invisibility of privilege and social
86 stratification inherent in wr iting program administration in the postcolonial era. Gunner suggests that Â“an agenda of a WPA change agent might be to support program changes that are potentially structural and systemic rather than static.Â” WPA change agents, Gunner suggests, can Â“help d econstruct common program practices that form the elements of writing programs generically [and, in so doing] undertake program changes that reintroduce difference a nd tension as dialectical elem entsÂ” (38). Such approaches would resist the de-legitimiz ing practices that historic ally have perpetuated the disenfranchising of African American discourse communities. GunnerÂ’s WPA agent of change is remi niscent of the Â“new kind of cultural workerÂ” Cornel West argues is emerging in ac ademic, cultural, aesthetic and scientific fields. West connects this new cultural worker to a Â“new politics of differenceÂ” entering the discourses of these fields. Â“These new forms of intellectual consciousness,Â” West attests, Â“advance reconceptualiza tions of the vocation of the cr itic and artist, [ Â… ] reject the abstract, general and univers al in light of the concrete, specific and particular, and historicize, contextualize a nd pluralize by highlighting th e contingent, provisional, variable, tentative, shifting and changing.Â” Ve ry much a postcolonial politics, this new cultural politics of difference Â“c onsists of creative responses to the precise circumstances of our present momentÂ—especially those of marginalized First World agentsÂ” and attempts to shift the course of the status quo from within the ins titutionalized discourses that construct and enforce discip linary culture (Â“NewÂ” 119-20). These new constructions of intellectual wo rk grow from the postcolonial project of social transformation through historical contextualization and materialist critique of still existent colonialist structures of expl oitative power. They are quite in kin with
87 Edward SaidÂ’s notion of humanistic investig ation, which he argues, Â“must formulate the nature of the connection [between knowledge an d politics] in the specific context of the study, the subject matter, and its historical circumstancesÂ” ( Orientalism 15). Postcolonial discourse appears to prove useful in secreting critical interruption of the naturalized flow of colonialist forms of raci alization and exploitation. WPAs like Andrea Greenbaum arm themselves with theories that serve to ethically and politically ground their argum ents for innovative transformations of traditional WPA practices and policies. Consid ering the value of postcolonial studies in writing program administration, Greenbaum appr eciates the ways in which Â“postcolonial scholarship, like cultural studies and some composition theory, attempts to interrogate the function of agency, history and asymmetrical power relationships.Â” Greenbaum believes that postcolonial theory can assist WPAs by Â“tracing a variety of co lonial relationships, including cultural and aesthetic forms, as well as offering a critique of the institutionalization of the object ive and scientific disciplines and their claim on neutrality and Â‘truthÂ’Â” (Â“WhatÂ” 75-6). Hence, postcolonial ism offers a context in which to challenge the authority of problematic foundational con ceptions in traditiona l writing programs. While the idea of transformative change in WPA work is refreshing, some compositionists believe that for the WPA, chan ge is near impossible to implement. While Sharon McGee, for instance, supports the tr ansformative agenda for WPA work, she has trepidations about the occasion for widespread structural chan ge. McGee agrees that Â“for WPAs, understanding the way in which power is constructed and channeled within universities is important.Â” But McGee is not convinced that the transformative agenda is available to all WPAs. McGee supports her reservations by pointing out that
88 investigating power relations is Â“often not so mething that WPAs are trained in or have time for, and they may forget about it because of its invisibilityÂ” (61). Transformation is difficult to imagine in an administrative position such as the WPA that is so accountable to outside for ces. Carrie Leverenz makes a similar claim about the limited possibility for change in WPA work. According to Leverenz, Â“writing program administrators certainly feel the ethi cal nature of what they do, but it also seems clear that, as a profession, we have not done a good job of conveying the ethical import of this work to others within our institu tion or withoutÂ” (113). Le verenz highlights the ethical considerations that are often allowe d to remain invisible in writing programs and argues that, Â“WPAs have a res ponsibility not only to act et hically in their individual dealing with others, but also to advocate for and enact policies that are ethically responsibleÂ” (107). Avenues for change emerge when WPAs respond proactively to the challenges they face from outside pressures. When WP As decide to meet the challenges of respecting Student language ri ghts, resisting vocational pe dagogies, and avoiding student indoctrination head-on, they serve their st udents well. Preparing for these challenges involves historicizing the fieldÂ’ s treatment of the issues i nvolved in each challenge. I believe that the primary issue at stake with all of these challenges is the construction of student identity. CHALLENGE 1: STUDENTSÂ’ RIGHTS TO THEIR OWN LANGUAGES (SRTOL) WPAs work hard to respond to the concer ns of students, fellow professors and administrators and to implement pedagogies that they feel best serv e the needs of their
89 students. While it is difficult to please everyone, the tradition of student-centered pedagogy helps WPAs to ground their decisions in ethics that they can easily defend. In regard to language rights, WP As have made great efforts to act responsibly and respond to growing linguistic diversity in American classrooms and in the global world. Henry Giroux, for example, provides a definition of sound educational leadership includes a public language that Â“would refuse to reconc ile schooling with form s of tracking, testing, and accountability that promote inequality by unconsciously ignoring cultural attributes of disadvantaged racial and class minoritie s.Â” Instead Giroux wishes to infuse Â“the vocabulary of educational lead ershipÂ” with Â“a language wh ich actively acknowledges and challenges those forms of pedagogical silenc ing which prevent us from becoming aware of and offended by the structures of oppression at work in both inst itutional and everyday lifeÂ” ( Living 24). This vocabulary is useful for defending WPA policy against pressures to adhere to social policie s that contradict ethical as well as scientific grounds. Recent linguistic theory has had an impact of literacy theory as well, where cognitive development theories are challenged for leading to injust ices wherein Â“white, middle class children sustain themselves in their transition to school by clinging to language customs of family and community, [h owever] this same process for others is called context-dependence, the dangerous source of certain failureÂ” (Brandt 109). EducationÂ—particularly writing instructionÂ—doe s not occur on a level playing field. Socalled non-traditional, or non-dominant groups ar e at a disadvantage in English education because their dominant discourses are not t hose of the community the academy chooses to standardize. For this reason, while those whose dominant discourse is the standardized discourse will appear more at ease with the discourse, representatives from non-dominant
90 will appear to struggle. But is this so? Is this argument always sound? Or are we making Others of our subaltern students. Certainly the economic landscape of the soci al world will attest to the growing disenfranchisement of African American discourse communities, and those of other minority groups in America. Postcolonial research presented here and in previous chapters attests to the ro le education and language in struction has taken in the perpetuation of the color line. Ramanthan believes there is cause to denounce the practices and policies in herent in language education a nd to champion linguistic freedom. Â“English is entrenched, Â“Ramanthan believes, Â“in the heart of a clas s-based divide (with ancillary ones of gender and caste as well) and issues of inequa lity, subordination and unequal value seem to revolve directly ar ound its general positioning with Vernacular languagesÂ” (vii). More specifically, Ramathan draws attention to the infrastructural weight that is given to th e preservation of class-based discourse and argues that, Â“powerful macro-structuresÂ—inc luding institutional policies, larger state and nationwide policies and pedagogical materialsÂ—do align with each other to shape, produce and perpetuate power-knowledge inequalities betw een those who have ac cess to English and those who do notÂ” (2). In the macrostructu re of American higher education, writing programs perpetuate inequalities between those who have early access to the standardized discourse of the white middle class and those who do not. The systematic nature of sta ndardization is worthy of hist oricism. It is interesting to note that the spread of English occurs as rapidly as the spread of Empire. Parakrama too suspects the discourse of standardization and its agenda of universality; historicizing the analogous process of the development of standardized language,Â” Parakrama deduces
91 that the emergence of print was in many wa ys the downfall of hegemonic prestige for racialized, feminized, classed, and otherwis e subaltern discourses. For Parakrama, standardization of the discourse of the economic elite was Â“fac ilitated, no doubtÂ” by the prestige of print, but more importantly by the economic access to the technologies of print. Â“There is much less access to non-st andard forms of language in published material,Â” Parakrama notes, Â“so Â‘modelsÂ’ of this writing are unav ailable for would-be practitioners.Â” With the gr owth of new print technology, then, came a resurgence of hegemonic status available through the proliferation of expensive technologies of communication, along with a systematic standardi zation of the discourse of print, thereby strengthening the universality of the class-based discourse and weakening the means to new forms of communicative agency. As a result, Parakrama points out, Â“unlike the spoken varieties, non-standard writing, even when system atically and consistently divergent from the Â‘normÂ’ as when it reproduces non-standard speech, has little legitimacy except in restricted and specialized Â‘creativeÂ’ contextsÂ” (12-13). When the discourse of colonialism was granted authorit y, it was also granted the authenticity of print. Even now, very few texts, save SmithermanÂ’s TalkinÂ’ that Talk present nonstandardized discourse in expository texts for academic contexts. The de-legitimizing of nonstandardized discourses a nd discourse communities is difficult to trace without awakening discomfo rts regarding race-based assumptions and stereotypes borne from the disc ourse of colonialism. Yet inas much as the results continue to restrict non-standard English speakers Â’ access to economic, academic, and political agency, WPAs should openly address the politic s of standardization and universality at play in every writing program, even though th is may mean getting uncomfortable. As
92 Parakrama asserts, Â“the standard is in e ffect, and is based, however loosely, on shared assumptions and on a network of mechanisms such as the school system, a common historical narrative and, perhaps most impor tantly, the conservative consequences of printing and communication technology which literally fixes the languageÂ” (16). The detrimental consequences of these assumptions will persist as long as the standard is maintained without critical interrogation. The politics of standardization places great responsibility on writing programs to respond to the political weight of language stratification and to question the implications of the standardization agenda in the pe dagogical aims of their writing programs. Parakrama cautions that, Â“Given the fact of the operation of a standard in language communities, linguists (and others) should wo rk towards broadening the standard to include so-called uneducated usage (in speech and writing) in order to reduce language discriminationÂ” (42). I must admit I would ha ve preferred a less cont radictory designation than Â“so-called uneducatedÂ” for the discourse of the subalternÂ—particularly to defend its introduction into the discourse of the e ducational arena. However, broadening the standard seems called for when educators ca n no longer voice any credible defenses for maintaining white middle class English as the standard, save those resting on historical traditions embedded in ideological formations that are highly suspect, or those resting on communication technologyÂ’s penchant for ma ss reproduction of any discourse that can afford it, simultaneously disseminating unive rsalized discourse and dominant cultural hegemony. Broadening the standard also protects writing programs from complicity in racist denigration of non-standard languages and m oves the teaching of language away from the
93 colonialist agenda of diffe rentiating the language of the colonized as dialect and normalizing white culture and discourse as la nguage. The case is even clearer in the United States, where standardized English would claim itself a language, yet determine Black Vernacular English a dialect. This is, of course, linguistically ridiculous, yet it is still alive in cultural assumptions about this postcolonial language. David Crystal explains the phenomenon of dialects by claiming th at they emerge to Â“give identity to the groups which own them (144). As these groups grow, whether in size, in prestige, in technological prowess, they may choose to promote their dialect as an autonomous language. Crystal states that in order to do so, the community must have Â“a single mind about the matter;Â” also the community must have enough political-economic Â‘cloutÂ’Â” to achieve respect for the language by outsidersÂ” (179). Unfortuna tely, in his treatment of American languages, Crystal does not addr ess southern dialect s, let alone Black Vernacular English, but his crite ria are relevant to an anal ysis of the development of Black English nonetheless. Black English is not much younger than st andardized American English, yet its journey toward recognition as a language ha s been fraught with the same history of disenfranchisement, disregard, and de-legitim ization as the members of its discourse community. Jan SwearingenÂ’s analysis of teacher attitudes toward Ebonics, Â“the speech,Â” she argues, Â“of many black inner city stude nts,Â” illuminates the issues involved in promoting a vernacular to the position of autonomous language. Swearingen examines two cases in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oakl and, California in which African American communities attempted to make Black English vi sible and credible in national arena. In the case of Ann Arbor, where parents of 25 African American children sued Martin
94 Luther King Elementary School for faili ng to educate their children, the initial problem ,Â” according to Swearingen, Â“was that there we re in place special segregated programs for Black English speakers;Â” these programs in cluded remedial tracks for the 13 percent African American populations w ho were often placed in these courses upon entry into the schools. In some cases, Sweari ngen notes, Â“Blacks who were not Black English speakers had been placed in such tracks before th ey had opened their mouths, without being testedÂ” (240). In the case of Oakland, California, school board members passed a resolution to recognize Ebonics as a language and to encour age discourse analysis of Englishes in the classrooms. The resoluti on also encouraged teachers to educate themselves on Ebonics as well. Both cases resulted in ferocious debate on the legitimacy, credibility, and, yes, the intellectuality of Black English, often coupled with understated ruminations of the same about Black English speakers. Reviewing the proliferation of edito rials responding to the Ebonics debate sparked in Oakland, Swearingen is left to conclude that these retorts Â“manifest an astonishing degr ee of resistance, misundersta nding, distortions, dismissal and thinly veiled racismÂ” (243). In such a climat e, CrystalÂ’s criteria se em far out of reach; however, lest we give the detractors more we ight than they deserve, what the Ebonics debate did manage to do was place Black Vern acular English on the national scale, not merely as a signifier of the remedial, as it was too often determined, but as a language, vying for its place amongst other dialect-turne d-languages, like American English. Angry at the charges of Â“professional crackpotismÂ” thrown at linguists for supporting the Oakland School BoardÂ’s decision, Swearingen an swers, Â“how quickly we forget that
95 American English was regarded as defectiv e British English well into the twentieth century, and many Brits still consider it soÂ” (240). The disenfranchisement of Black English not sustained in the field of linguistics where the language enjoys equa l linguistic standing with all other Englishes. Nor can it be strongly sustained in the field of Com position, as Black English can now be placed equally amongst all discourses. The reality of the failure of Black English to establish itself fully manifests itself in the social wo rld, where Black identity, Black experience, and Black English have all been historically denigrated in the disc ourse of colonialism. Lee Campbell and Debra Jacobs define this de nigration as a social stigma, sanctioned by traditional approaches to language instructi on. The linguist and compositionist contest the tendency of writing programs to stigmatize non-standardized discourse communities in order to normalize and authenticate the disc ourse of the privileged white middle class. Campbell and Jacobs share their concerns regarding the lack of distinction among Â“grapholectal, dialectal, and historical discour sesÂ” and contend that such distinctions would Â“eliminate the hypocrisy of stigmatizing the differences we celebrateÂ” (Â“StigmataÂ” 100). Campbell and Jacobs also examine the hi story of the call for standardization, tracing the movementÂ’s shift from the hands of compositionists concerned about global intelligibility to the realm of public di scourse and legislative policy where the standardization of English has become a soundi ng board for a great many issues that have little place in higher education. The theori sts also note the eas e with which public supporters of standardization re ject the body of linguist ic research that denies the efficacy
96 of these ardent defenses of standardized disc ourse as inherently in telligent. (Â“Standards MovementÂ”). The public denouncement of science for the comfort of the dominant classÂ’s own self-serving assumptions is regrettable, pa rticularly when those assumptions are so detrimental to a population of Americans that so enrich the countryÂ’s history. But the debate is revelatory, indicating the Â“tragic lack of connection between what academicians know and do and what the public understandÂ” and between what scientists know to be true, and what the hegemony prefers to be tr ue. By revealing the de-legitimization of Black English so openly, the debate has made public the inaccurate yet readily available suppositions about the discourse of the Black American community and about the discourse of the white middle class community as well. It has also made public the historical relationship between Standard E nglish preference and th e perpetuation of the culture of white privilege. As Swearingen mentions, Â“a traditional and very effective vehicle for enforcing the learning of Standard English within as well as outside African American communitiesÂ—practiced by white and black teachers and parentsÂ—has been the depiction of Black English as brokenÂ” (243). The devaluation of Black English seems to often go along with Standard English education, was what the Oakland School board endeavored to circumvent, or at least openly address. But in doing so, they made visible a critical arm in the ideological mechanism of the colonialist discourse, one that had been steadily operating within the ideological apparatus of education to perpetuate the social stratification of the racialized world constructed in the context of col onialism. The assumptions, worldviews, and stereotypes of colonialist discourse still, for many, allow the Â“easy reduction of Black
97 English to the status of gutte r talk,Â” which Swearingen belie ves is a fear-driven, racist denigration of a language and culture that ha s contributed to our language and culture a wealth of terms and concepts, including denigrat ion (243). Interesting that Â“denigration,Â” Â“demonization,Â” and the Â“color lineÂ” are notable African American additions to American English. Defenses of standardized English draw attention to the need for universal understanding, and amongst thes e theories, some possibilitie s emerge. Patricia Bizzell rejects the Â“oppressive claim that other forms of English are cognitively inferior to the standard form,Â” but prefers to hold on to the concept of a standard by promoting academic discourse, shared amongst intellectua ls, and representative of a community Â“that have been in school, have learned to ta ke pains with their wor kÂ—in short, that have received the training necessary to the academ ic communityÂ’s rigorous intellectual tasks.Â” For Bizzell, the cultural capital of the Â“educat ed ethosÂ” of standardized English usage is well worth passing on to composition students, to facilitate their academic progress as well as their hegemonic agency. Bizzell addr esses the decontextua lized, Â“schoolÂ” quality of her Standard English, but in sists that this adds to the discourseÂ’s and the speakerÂ’s credibility, regardless of the fact that academic discourse is Â“a language that nobody speaksÂ” (140). School English may work well for particip ation in school wri ting activities, but students question whether standardized acad emic discourse really serves their communicative needs best. In addition to the history of racialization and the decontextualization that make standardiza tion problematic, Victoria Cliett presents evidence of a growing plurality of Eng lishes that may soon make the issue of
98 standardization a moot point. Even though st andardization tends to bring along with it Â“reduced tolerance of language varieties,Â” C liett observes that Â“the economic and cultural capital of English opens the door for varieties other than the standard to become accepted through the codification processÂ” (70). What is resulting is a propagation of Â“World Englishes, a term Cliett believes Â“allows for a variety of standard Englishes, many of which are comprised of forms and patterns th at problematize the traditional notion of non-standard English in the United States.Â” These new Englishes indeed broaden the standard of English usage and may very we ll shift the English teacherÂ’s agenda from local and national interests to la rger global responsibilities. This global focus may be just what is n eeded to wrest writing programs from its traditional racialized foundations. Cliett advise s against a Â“focus solely on a domestic concept of Â‘standard EnglishÂ’ [which, she beli eves] would be to teachersÂ’ disadvantage in the changing cultural and global landscape [bec ause] the concept of Â‘standard EnglishÂ’ is more complex than the English teacherÂ’s trad itional notion of Â‘co rrectÂ’ and Â‘incorrectÂ’ languageÂ” (67). Instead, Cliett warns that, Â“in the face of the global recognition of language diversity, it is imperative that English teachers address the pedagogical and curricular changes that multi lingual and multidialect ical classrooms demandÂ” (73). This imperative can serve as yet another means by which WPAs can argue for transformative writing programs that interrogate the relati onship between language and identity and extend the standardized academic language beyond the narrow di stinction of white middle class discourse. A relatively early response to language diversity occurred in the 1970Â’s when the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) published the
99 StudentsÂ’ Right to Their own Languages (S RTOL) Resolution. Joining the burgeoning struggle for language rights, this re solution by CCCC intended to Â“heighten consciousness of language attitude s; to promote the value of linguistic diversity; and to convey facts and information about language and language variation that would enable instructors to teach their non traditional st udentsÂ—and ultimately all studentsÂ—more effectivelyÂ” (Smitherman 20). This resolu tion grew from an ac knowledgement of the changing populations in composition classrooms and from the ardent desire to provide these students with sound education that did not detract form their connections to their home languages and home identities. The SRTOL Resolution also grew from a growing respect for the knowledge that these students were bringing into the classroom s, and an effort to make that knowledge accessible to the academy. Smitherman also be lieves that the SRTOL Resolution Â“was formulated to address the cont radictions developed in the midst of [a snowball of] major paradigm shifts first in the social order, th en in higher education, and finally in English studies (26). These shifts challenged the fiel d of compositions, posing questions such as, Â“Why should linguistic minorities have to lear n two languages and majority members of society get by on one?Â” and Â“charging the fiel d with Â“linguistic dominationÂ” (23). The CCCC response is to be heralded for its ea rly decision to value the languages students bring into the classroom, and for its fore sight in regard to the ever-increasing heterogeneity of the English-speaking worl d. CCCC took the challenge head-on insisting that compositionists make the effort to unders tand the linguistic rights of their students. While the SRTOL Resolution is not univers ally accepted even in the CCCC community, and even though the resolution was not ratif ied by the National Council for Teachers of
100 English (NCTE), it has managed to sanction the efforts of those who would support the rights of non-standardized discourses. The SRTOL resolution, for Smitherman, provides the organizational policies that can serve as Â“weapons that language rights warriors can wield against opponents of linguist ic democratizationÂ” (35). Compositionists have responded to the SR TOL Resolution in meaningful ways. Tom Fox has produced self-reflective ethnograp hies of his composition classrooms that delve into the conflicts of class, cultural a nd linguistic difference at play in the teaching of writing, Fox rejects traditi onal deficit theories of la nguage diversity and instead requests Â“a language pedagogy that conceives of students as c ontributors, as people with valuable social and linguistic backgrounds th at can help their unde rstanding of reading and writing, as people who, if the learning co ntext permits, have the ability to think critically and analytically about language useÂ” (107). One of the major concerns of the drafters of the resolution was to facilitate the inclusion of the perspectives, innovations, concerns, and interests of students from discourse communities often rejected from participation in academic scholarship. They hoped that by allowing student language rights, they could encourage critical engagement in writing acts without the concomitant sham e or anger that often accompanies traditional writing instruction. Rhetoricians like Keith Gilyard and Elaine Richardson value the SRTOL Resolution for the opportunities it presents for WPAs to legitimize compositionistsÂ’ efforts to get critical Bl ack students actively engaged in hegemonic struggle (50-51). The writers also appreciate that the SR TOL Resolution fueled an interest in the African American rhetorical tradition and a reevaluation of the efficacy of African American discourse, which they beli eve is a useful res ource for instilling in
101 African American writing st udents an interest in and precedence for engagement in public discourse. Â“By making the African Ameri can rhetorical tradition the centerpiece of attempts to teach academic prose to Afri can American students, especially those characterized as basic writer s,Â” Gilyard and Richardson c ontend, Â“we believe that we increase the likelihood that they will develop into caref ul, competent, critical practitioners of the written word.Â” They bot h support this pedagogical strategy because it seems as if, unlike the expe riences with the decontextu alized examples of writing presented in remedial classes, and or with the alienating examples presented in currentrational and expressivist writi ng courses, Â“students seem to become more vested in improving their writing when it is directly and functionally connected to issues that are of immediate concern to themÂ” (50). Far from a denouncement of standard English, the SRTOL resolution is an expansi on of the standardized discou rseÂ—one that recognizes the linguistic right of all Americans to cont ribute to the hegemonic discourses that communicate the American cultural experience. The SRTOL Resolution is a great leap in the direction of ethically responsible educational leadership. It reflec ts the efforts that rhetoricia ns are making to confront and contend with the identity politics at work in the teaching of writing. The Resolution also suggests the kind of transformations that are po ssible in the field of English studies when educators are willing to engage in self-reflectiv e, self-critical historicism for the sake of their students. This self-reflexivity proves itself useful in the following chapter as well, as WPAs face the growing pressure to conform to market demands for vocational training in higher education.
102 CHALLENGE 2: MARKET PRESSU RES ON WRITING PROGRAMS WPAs experience pressures from all sides, but arguably the most difficult of these pressures are those of the market which exerts its force through pare nts, administrators and students themselves. Placing English studies in a rhetorical tug of war of Â“dissonance between the nineteenth century liberal arts model and the twenty-first century commodity model off education,Â” Scott Le onard examines the Â“raging to rrentÂ” of public discourse on English studies in higher education. Leonard laments the increase of Â“words like productivity producer consumer inputs and outputs cropping up in the marketÂ’s demands for job training in English Studies (53-54) He urges compositionists to reject the ways in which Â“the academy is being reimagined by legislat ors and university administrators not as a zone where art for it s own sake is to be appreciated, nor where ideas, however insurgent against prevailing opinion or time-honored tradition, are to be articulated and debated, but rath er as a vocational and technical training facility for the postindustrialist future.Â” These efforts, he beli eves make education Â“a commodity for sale and for useÂ” and hence universities easily beco me Â“corporations or factories that produce an educationÂ” for the marketplace (53). This model of educational leadership contrasts harshly with the transformative agenda envisi oned by Giroux and others as the agenda of the writing program. Berlin shares his concerns that, students are more likely to acquire the abilities and dispositions that will enable them to b ecome successful workers than the abilities and dispositions to make critical sense of this age. He critiques Â“curre nt-traditional rhetoric, with its positivistic epistemology, its pret ensions to scientific precision, and its managerial orientationÂ” which he finds compatible with th e mission of the university to
103 maintain the status quo and preserve the position of the dominant class (480). The attempts by corporate structures to dictat e the pedagogical measures that would produce for them the ideal employable corporate subj ects should be treated wi th a great deal of caution, not only by educators concerned about capitalist interpel lation, and by students concerned about market exploitation. But these new measures should cause alarm for would-be employers themselves, who should qu estion the efficacy and legality of these ill-considered requests for docile bodies a nd who should be wary of seizing the responsibility of creating pedagogical aims a nd objectives out of th e hands of those who make education their primary concern. Genera lly, corporate pressu res on education could be considered an arm of yet another form of imperialism: capitalist domination. It is difficult for WPAs to find a solid ground from which to defend their pedagogical aims against the insistent de mand for vocational training in higher educations. While the agendas of Arts a nd Sciences programs can serve to bolster departments from training students merely to participate in their possible jobsÂ—while giving them no guarantee they will actually be placed in those jobsÂ—instructors and WPAs still find it difficult to ignore the increas ing concerns that students learn more technical and professional wr iting and less introspective and analytical writing in composition courses. In many ways, the subj ect that the market is requesting that academies produce for them is FoucaultÂ’s docile body, ready to be manipulated by the systems of power in the particular domain th at social stratification and the disciplinary apparatus of education have determined. Corporate and legislative pressures would have writing programs make docile bodies of their students by in terpellating them Â—before they even complete their
104 schoolingÂ—into the subj ectivities available in the social relations produced by corporate capitalism. Michel FoucaultÂ’s analysis of the emergence of the disciplinary apparatus sheds much light on our unders tanding of social relati ons and, specifically, on the constancy of those relations. While the sc ope of FoucaultÂ’s analysis covers Europe during the enlightenment era, much, of course can be compared with present day forms of discipline. Foucault managed to prove not only that individuals are socially constructed according to the needs and desi res of the existing means of production, but that those individuals, thr ough a system of observation, no rmalization and examination, are made to discipline themselves and each other for purposes not of their own designÂ— purposes that could be consid ered self-jeopardiz ing. Of the emergence of systems of surveillance, for example, F oucault writes, Â“although the wo rkers preferred a framework of a guild type [Â…] the employers saw that it was indissociable from the system of industrial production, private property, and pr ofitÂ” (175). These Â“three PsÂ” would become the determining factors in subject form ation. With production, property, and profit determining the necessary subjects for the existing and seemingly unchangeable market, students lose all access to agency and become subject to the will of the market, whichÂ— with the three Ps guiding its wayÂ—shares no in terest in the workers who are not meant to be the primary beneficiaries of their own labors. Voicing concerns in the feminist moveme nt about the limitations of FoucaultÂ’s analyses, Teresa de Laurentis argues that, Â“by ignoring the conflic ting investments of men and women in the discourses and practices of sexuality, FoucaultÂ’s theory, in fact, excludes, though it does not preclude, the consid eration of genderÂ” (3). To this slight critique of FoucaultÂ’s much-appreciated wo rk, I would add the exclusion of race and
105 class, both of which de Laurentis menti ons but does not thoroughly explore in her analysis of the role of gender in the t echnology of selves. Race and class, however, deserve attention in any analys is of subject formation in present times. As W.E.B. Dubois has suggested, postcolonial soci eties are structured and clas sed along a color line that leaves no individual outside of race. FoucaultÂ’s theories provide a means to investigate the ways in which postcolonial societies are cl assed and racialized, and the ways in which post colonial subjects are made to class a nd racialize themselves within the various ideological disciplinary apparatuses they encounter. Education continues to be indispensable to any archaeology of social formations. As previously discusses, educational apparatu ses constitute subjects early and continue to hone studentsÂ’ subjectivities through a number of disciplin ary measures. Jean AnyonÂ’s sociological study of social cl ass and education provides useful research for analyzing the role of education in the in ternalization of Am erican class hierarchies. While AnyonÂ’s analysis does not focus direc tly on race, recent histories of American education and American economics reveals the many ways in which race and class coincide in the stratification of schools. Schools are typically funded by proper ty taxes and, in short, high populations of people of color exist in what Anyon defines as Â“working class schools;Â” far lower populations exist in middle class sc hools; and a negligible amount can be found in affluent schools. In AnyonÂ’s study of five schools at differing class levels, Anyon notes specific and highly problematic differe nces in the types of education children receiveÂ—differences that relate directly to th e social classes into which the students live. These differences add up, for Anyon, to a Â“hidde n curriculumÂ” in education that serves to maintain existing relations of power. While all students are discip lined and learn to
106 discipline themselves, the disc iplinary mechanism used in Am erican secondary education is not as homogenous as FoucaultÂ’s seventee nth and eighteenth century models appear to be. Rather, the modern American model allows for greater or lower levels of docility depending upon the particular positions the students take in the hierarchies of race and class. The problematic connection between the st ratification of society in corporate capitalism and the stratification of educatio nal resources in pub lic schools AnyonÂ’s study certainly reveals the ways in which the subjec tivities of children (the new Americans) are constructed in relation to a nd for the sake of industrial production, private property, and profit. The results of her work also suggest that varying degrees of docility are arranged along the existing hierarchy of race and cla ss. For working class students, Â“work is following the steps of a procedure [which] is usually mechanical, involving rote behavior and very little decision making or choice. [I n addition,] teachers made every effort to control the movement of the childrenÂ” (529-30). These stude nts not only learn how to follow orders, but how to receive them with little opposition. They ar e not expected to make decisions, but rather to abide by those decisions made for them. In middle class schools, the main concern for these students was Â“getting the right answers [which] are usually found in books or by listening to the teacherÂ” (Anyon 531). While these students are expected to make some choices and decisions amongst possible answers provided, their participation does not include questioning the nature of the answers themselves or the teachersÂ’ choices In other words, these individuals must accept an existing objective reality and learn the methods and practices with which to Â“make the gradeÂ” in this reality. Students here are also made comfortable with
107 decontextualized work: Â“assignments are per ceived as having little to do with their interests and feelings; [Â…] doing well is im portant because there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job or coll egeÂ” (532-3). While a level of docility still ex ists in the subjectivity constructed for this population of students, the teach er does attempt to negotiate with students rather than give orde rs. This would suggest an increase in selfdiscipline in this sector where the possibility of reward is considered more accessible. For students of the executive elite, Â“work is developing oneÂ’s analytical intellectual powers, [and] a pr imary goal of thought is to conceptualize rules by which elements may fit together in systems and then to apply those rules in solving a problemÂ” (537). Here, students are outfitted with all of the intellectual t ools that would facilitate an understanding of and the means by which to change, among other things, existing power relations. Here the world is not made up of fixed rules to memorize. Anyon notes that, Â“while right answers are impor tant in math, they are not Â‘givenÂ’ by the book or by the teacher but may be challenged by the childrenÂ” and negotiated until consensus is reached (536). Students experience far more freedom in these schools as well; their movements are neither regulated by the te achers nor by the bell. Hence, the students of the affluent class are provided the means and methods by which to analyze reality and shape it however possible to fit their needs. They are expected to practice self-discipline with little enforcement necessary. The disciplinary apparatus, more closely analyzed, serves multiple purposes and produces multiple forms of docility, ranging from passive to active agents in the social structure. Anyon concludes by arguing that Â“di ffering curricular, peda gogical, and pupil evaluation practices emphasize different cogni tive and behavioral skills in each social
108 setting and thus contribute to the developm ent in the children of certain potential relationships to physical and symbolic capital to authority, and to the process of workÂ” (539). Placed along the class and color line, th e disciplinary apparatus provides increased access to agency for those who would seem to need it the least, and decreased access to those who would use their in tellect to oppose and destroy existing configurations of production, property, and profit. F oucaultÂ’s theory of discipline still stands, but attention to class and race assists in making visi ble the means by which race and class are internalized, disciplined and perpetuated in emerging American subj ects. This attention also serves to make FoucaultÂ’s relevance to market pressures even more alarming, as less and less agency is provided for those stude nts who would benefit from the critical education that could reconfi gure the market and their pr edetermined disenfranchised positions within it. Capitalist commodification of education should be approached with an awareness of the recent critiques of cor porate capitalism that have em erged in the academy. Herbert SchillerÂ’s critique of capitalist culture may shed some light on the debilitative consequences of adopting the agenda of the capitalist market in writing program policies and practices. Schiller argues that the postmode rn and postcolonial era has given rise to a new form of imperialism that he defines as cultural domination. His analysis of current international policies and practices suggests th at imperialism has not been eradicated but instead has morphed itself into a transnatio nal economic structure that continues to support the global expansion of western cultural dominance. Instead of accepting notions of the postmodern as a movement away from imperialist forms of rule, Schiller is convinced that we are not experiencing the e nd of imperialism. Rather, he provides much
109 evidence that suggests that with the spread of culture through c ontrol of forms of communication and education, a new kind of imperialism has emerged with even less resistance than the old. Cultural imperialism works through the c ontrol of communicati ons, and therefore of information. As Schiller insists, Â“cultu ral production has its pol itical economyÂ” (319). What he means by this is that cultural products do social and political work. This is so in any culture and with an y cultural product. All cultural prod ucts serve to shape and inform individuals and their relations hips to the worlds in which they live. What westernÂ—and primarily AmericanÂ—corporate cultural produ cts produce is a global consumer society, one that places value in purchase power rath er than political power, one that depends upon corporate advertising and western news so urces not only for information, but for the very means by which to understand their soci eties as cultures. Th ese cultural products and sources, increasingly under multinational control, still do the cultural work of constructing subjectivities in the social worl d, but unfortunately, the cultural forms and models are no longer the products of the in ternational communities that absorb and internalize them. Even in th e cases where nonwestern peopl e control their own media, media itself has been so concretely defined in western terms that only an essentialized reading of these attempts could suggest that they are examples of anything but western imperialism in Â“blackface.Â” Schi ller illustrates this point with OliveraÂ’s analysis of Brazilian soap operas whose purposes ar e to Â“sell goods made by transnational corporationsÂ” (327). This is yet anothe r example of postcolonial cultures being appropriated by capitalist discour se. Just as she cultural aren a has been appropriated by
110 the capitalist market, so will the academy be if disciplinary programs are not wiling to insist on maintaining hegemonic power in the academic arena. By kowtowing to market pressures, educational institutions are turning education into a commodity that is packaged, processe d and available for sale based on its use value. Susan WillisÂ’ analysis of commodity packaging and the reification of consumer capitalism sheds some light on the process of cultural domination that Schiller exposes. Paying attention to the growth of advertis ing and mass marketing in world communities, Willis argues that mass commodity packaging Â“enables commodity producers to have greater control over consumption and a mo re systematic means of exploiting the consumerÂ” (335). Packaging and advertising serve not only to perpetuate consumer spending; they work to produce the consum ers themselves: Â“postmodern advertising assumes a consuming subject capable of bei ng interpellatedÂ” (335) This process of interpellation is the real work of consumer packaging and advertising. Willis relates the lure of the package to the c onstruction of desire in cons umer culture and argues that commodity packaging serves to reify consumer capitalism. This is the kind of work that Schiller refers to as cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism in the academy manifests itself in writing programs where students ar e made to consume vocational education and are consequently constructed as workers rather than scholars. Cultural media and educa tional policy serve to creat e cultural norms, some of which are more obvious than others. The prolif eration of the privati zed, corporate model, for instance, makes itself known not in the messa ge of the media, but in the media itself. Amongst other forms, Schiller notes that Â“cultural domination means also adopting broadcasting systems that depend upon advert ising and accepting deregulatory practices
111 that transform the public mails the telephone system, and cable television into private profit centersÂ” (320). This shift away from public f unded media transmission and government-regulated programming to privatized cultural production not only serves the purpose of providing multinational corporati ons with easier access to international communitiesÂ’ forms of cultural production, but it serves as well to normalize corporate economies and capitalist consumer culture. This last purpose, largely implicit and invisible, is the driving force of corporat e capitalism itselfÂ—for the global multinational market economy to succeed, capitalism must become second nature. As educational institutions adopt the corporate model, they institute covert forms of corporate capitalism by teaching for the workplace. At eh same time, even more speciously, the corporate model of education implements covert spons orship of corporate capitalism by making it appear as a predetermined reality. The cultural products of consumer culture including the corporate commodity of vocational higher education, serve to create consumer subjects ; more important than what emerging consumers buy is what these non-westernized peoples buy into The ideology of western imperialism is inherent in th e discourses of consumerism, capitalism, and multinational globalization and these discourses are standardized in the available forms of cultural production. The intere sts of the citizens of nonwestern nations are no longer invoked in the discourses and cultural pr oducts they consume and subsequently reproduce; rather, the interests of multinatio nal corporations and western imperialist economies are invoked, interests that in no wa y serve the citizens of these non-western nations.
112 Corporate capitalism, while advertisi ng promises of the Â“American dream,Â” exploit the labor, capital, and resources of non-white Americans and non-western nations; and westernization, speciously attractive in American advertisements, is a myth that continues to lure nations a nd their citizens into predetermined hierarchies that depend upon and perpetuate their positions as second class world citizens with minimal economic and political power. As long as the west insists upon making the worldÂ’s citizens understand themselves through the framework of corporate capitalism, then global business marketsÂ—for the sake of profitÂ—wi ll continue to exploit with ease the historically constructed economic inequalitie s between worlds, the resulting indigent labor pool in non-western nati ons, and the diminishing natu ral resources in non-western lands. These forms of exploitation, and partic ularly the inequalities upon which they rest, are of great interest to Sch iller, who suggests that Â”it is still the growing disparities between the advantaged and disadvantaged countries, as well as the widening gap inside the advantaged and disadvantaged societies that constitute the fa ult line of the still seemingly secure world market economyÂ” (331) Schiller is also concerned with the Â“ecological disaster in the makingÂ” which ma y bring an end not only to the corporate business system (life as we know it), but to the planetÂ’s ecosystem (life in general). Schiller asks that we dispel the myth th at postmodernism is the end of imperialist domination and instead recognize imperialism in its new formÂ—the invisible message of western dominance stamped on any and a ll forms of global cultural production. Against the backdrop of this ardent critique of the cultu re of capitalism, it would seem more fitting for writing instructors to prepare students for the global world, rather than the corporate world and give them the di scursive strategies fo r operating both inside
113 and outside of the capitalist market. Leonard and Â“most university professors Â“hope that the facts, methods, and hands-on experiences th at we make available to our students will stimulate them to a self-conscious engagement with their worlds. An admittedly abstract goal,Â” Leonard admits, Â“but no more so, Â“ he argues, Â“than the goal of manufacturing Â‘job-readyÂ’ workersÂ—as if job readiness were just one, static thingÂ” (57). Given these and other critiques of the pressures of cap italism proliferating from analyses of globalization in the academy, it is only expected that theorists such as Berlin would argue that Â“trying to adjust the colle ge curriculum exactly to the minute configurations of the job market is out of the questionÂ” ( Rhetorics 50). This would invol ve too powerful a dependence upon, and ultimately a faith in an economic structure that can no longer hide behind a discourse of positivism. CHALLENGE 3: (DE)POLITICI ZING WRITING INSTRUCTION The discipline of writing operates in a fishbowl; more than any academic requirement, save History of Civilization it is argued, the Composition course receives more attention and more pressure from outsi de forces. WPAs face departmental pressures from committees with micromanaging fellow pr ofessors in literature and technical and professional writing programs. They suffer with university-wide backla sh from frustrated departmental professors who feel they shoul dnÂ’t have to teach writing. The contend with pressures from students, pare nts legislatures and a vari ety of focus groups bent on instituting policy changes to support their personal age ndas. Working amongst all of these forces, sometimes against, sometimes in the background, WPAs deal with the demands of visibility by remaining fo cused on the needs of the student.
114 Student-centered approaches to writing in struction still remain largely bipolar, however; on one side, the expr essionist mode is introspe ctive, allowing students the chance to examine themselves and express their thoughts and ideas, on the other side, the epistemic mode is extra-spective, or out er-directed, allowing students the chance to examine their world and to question and exam ine their place within it. For postcolonial theory, transformative scholar ship would involve both intr ospective and outer-directed approaches to writing pedagogy. The postcolon ial tradition demands an agenda of transformation that cannot be achieved through expressionism as it is currently understood. Expressionism, from the pe rspective of postcolonialism, has become synonymous with escapism, and any writing pedagogy that as ks students to Â“search inside to express themselvesÂ” lends itself to questions such as Â“in what format do they communicate what they find?Â” Â“How do you grade identity?Â” Â“H ow do your expectations determine what Â‘selvesÂ’ they express?Â” These questions are tacitly active in expressionist classrooms as students attempt to learn to express their identities in a fishbowlÂ—in the classroom setting amongst others, visible and responsible What the writing instru ctor brings to the expressionist classroom determines in many ways just how it is that these questions are answered. The expressionist classroom is not acontextual, though of ten decontextualized. The fishbowl is nestled at the bottom of the s ea, and just as the s ea of students, faculty members, parents, administrators and legislat ors filter through the writing program, so the writing instructorÂ’s pressures, concerns, ideo logies, and epistemologies filter into the studentsÂ’ linguistic constr uctions of themselves.
115 Taking an active role in facing the re sponsibility involved in teaching selfexpression, compositionists grapple with peda gogical pressures, often from students themselves, to ignore self-expression entire ly and focus on practical applications of particular writing tasks suitable for determined future endeavorsÂ—often not those endeavors compositionists are as quick to assume for their students. We reduce our students when we lowball them, imagining for them small futures that require simple writing tasks and little attention to their po tential transformative power. Self-evaluation has always had a place in composition because writing is cognitively linked to thinking, and thinking is discursively linked to ident ity. The issue with iden tity and expressionism produces contentions because constructions of identity have changed in recent years. Far less the autonomous ego imagined in modernist modes of self-expression, the new self is intersubjective, existing interchangeably in cont extual linguistic transactions, amongst historically constructed social narr atives. Expressionist rhetoric must, if it wishes to consider itself a m ode of self-expression, take th e self out of the body and into the world. Doing so would involve, however, getting political, and he nce, expressionism tends to shield itselfÂ—and hence the selfÂ—from analyses of cont ext. Such analyses would necessarily address the ideological forces students bring to the classroom, the social forces inside and outside of the classroom that construct studentsÂ’ identities, and the interpellative forces of discourse standardization. By ignoring these forces, expressionism lays itself to open to critiques from rhetoricians such as James Berlin, for whom Â“expressionist rhetoric is inherently and debilitatingly divisive of political protest, suggesting that effectiv e resistance can only be offered by individuals, each acting alone.Â” It is this focus on the individual that Berlin
116 finds unsatisfactory. Â“For expres sionist rhetoric,Â” he argues, Â“the correct response to the imposition of current economic, political a nd social arrangements is resistance, but resistance that is always c onstrued in individual terms. Â” The result of this focus on individualism, Berlin would argue is that, while the conf lation of self-expression and individualism may yield for some Â“self-expression in intell ectual or aesthetic pursuits,Â” unfortunately for many the result is simply consumer behavior, and individual self expression is identified with the consumpti on of commodities (487). Long after BerlinÂ’s revelations about the dangers of expressionism Â’s focus on individualis m, the practice still remains much the same with little attention to the political implications of teaching selfexpression. Expressivism continues to be condemned by critical compositionists who wish to infuse writing programs with hegemonic agency Gary Olson shares his concerns with the resurgence of acontextual expressivism that he believes is highly conunterproductive. Â“The attempt to drag composition back to its expressivist roots,Â” Olson states, Â“constitutes a direct assau lt on a two-decade long tradition of substantive theoretical scholarship.Â” But what is more crucial to Ols on is that this assau lt is on Â“a particular kind of work: that which attempts to lead the field away from the debil itating preoccupation with individual psychology, Â‘geniu s,Â’ Â‘talent,Â’ and Â‘creativityÂ’ and toward a recognition of how and why dominant disc ourse enacts a kind of viol ence on many of us.Â” Among those of us at stake in the violence of dominant discourse, Olson lists Â“women, minorities, and members of other groups who do not share fully, if at all, in the privileges that society reserves for the fewÂ” (xii). Ce rtainly, students in writi ng programs would be
117 listed in those many of us, and that kind of work would seem most beneficial for the kinds of transformative scholarship postco lonial studies would like to achieve. Expressivist and current-traditional rhet orics often leave themselves open to charges of postitivism, charges that they tend to perpetuate th e status quo, leaving students no avenues for making the kind of stru ctural political cha nges that would make the world a better place. This positivism, in postcolonial terms could be defined by Barnor Hesse as de/colonial fantasy, Â“stimul ated by a compulsion to imagine the Western nation, or at least the one Â‘w eÂ’ live in, as having resolved or avoided any disruptive legacies of the failures to decolonize.Â” Hesse sees masses of contradiction in de/colonial fantasy; riddled with escapism and defens ive self-preservation, de/colonial fantasy Â“assumes in advance what it desires to de ny. Correspondingly, it conc eals the relation of this liberal-democratic disavowal to the WestÂ’s contemporary formationÂ” (160). What this fantasy denies is the reality that Â“culture s of imperialism are st ill defining the social orientations of Western libera l democracies.Â” For Hesse, Â“it is as if decolonization never took place, that it remains interrupted and inco mplete.Â” Positivism dwindles in the face of postcolonialism because of this failure of decolonizing mission to materializeÂ—a failure Hesse argues Â“is constitutive of what we should now understand as the postcolonial conditionÂ” (159). WPAs interested in tr ansformative pedagogy must move beyond the kind of de/colonial fantasy that expressivism allows. When calling for investigations of politic s in writing pedagogy, rhetoricians must be prepared to provide those same inves tigations of their ow n pedagogical practices. Rhetorics that problematize apolitical pedagogies promot e awareness of ideology and student subjectivity necessarily leave themselv es open to the self-same critique by their
118 detractors. As the charge goes, Â“YouÂ’re so worried about indoctrinat ion, but arenÂ’t you indoctrinating students yourselves, this time instead of with the prevailing dominant paradigm (as you call it), with antiestablishm ent rhetorics from Marxist, Feminist, even Black Nationalist camps?Â” The answer is yes, and no. Edu cators are always indoctrinating students; that can Â’t be controlled. But what ca n be controlled is exactly what gets indoctrinated. For strong WPAs, what gets indoctrinated is a keen sensitivity to this very issue of indoctrination. New approaches to rhetoric and compos ition make indoctrina tion, interpellation, identity appropriation and subjectivity centr al to their work in order to examine responsibly the ways in which education al ways involves indoctri nation. Teachers are, after all, employed to instill knowledge in the minds of st udents; that is the tradition for which we earn respect and longevity. But along with knowledge comes an understanding of power, one that provides an epistemi c positioning from which to understand oneÂ’s place within prevailing power structures. Such is the nature of education, as suggested by FreireÂ’s analysis of Â“banking education,Â” hi s redefinition of the word as action, and his agenda of praxisÂ—changeÂ—as the ultimate pursuit of composing acts. The knowledge/power relation is revealed as well through FoucaultÂ’ s concept of the Â“panopticon,Â” through his analysis of discip linary strategies and the perpetuation of epistemic powers, and through his focus on the manipulation of visibi lity and observation in disciplinary apparatuses such as education. Instilling knowledge, any knowledge, is by no means a ideologically free exercise, as FreireÂ’s and FoucaultÂ’s theories on the hierarchical a pparatus of education and its role in enforcing epistemic presence stro ngly suggest. There is, in fact, far more at
119 stake than some educators car e to realize. When WPAs take the res ponsibilities of education seriously, however, they can choose to instill in students mo re than a clueless acceptance of things as they are and their proscribed places in the so-called Â“natural order.Â” Rather, we can instil l in them a cognitive hypera wareness of indoctrination, a critical apparatus for examining the ideologica l underpinnings of disc ursive realities in given linguistic transactions, and some critical methods for invigorating their compositing acts with their own agendas that answer to their own concerns about the state of the world and their seemingly proscribed positions within it. Accepting indoctrination helps compositio nists to be more open and more responsible about what they indoctrinate into students. Some believe that it makes them even more responsible than those who would pretend that they could avoid it. Susan Jarratt finds the charges of indoctrination weak because their in tentions are often sacrificed in their very pleas : Â“The language used is an ar tful rhetorical maneuver of reversal: accusing your advers ary of your own wrong. WhatÂ’s missing in this discussionÂ” Jarrett notes, Â“is the freeing of speechÂ—bringing to voice kno wledges, experiences, and histories for whole bodies of people previous ly unheardÂ” (36). This freedom is what epistemic rhetoric strives to attainÂ—the in troduction of critical re flection on discourse and identity, reflection that will better en able students to navigate and interpolate discourse without being consumed by the ideo logical forces inherite d in the history of those discourses at play in th e social and academic worlds. Just because writing pedagogies are info rmed by prevailing theories does not necessarily mean that the poi nt of informed writing pedagogi es is to teach theory. The point is still to teach writing, and the objective is still stude nt-centered. Zebrosky believes
120 that teaching is not about Â“indoctrinating the st udent, either into th e ruling-class ideas of the time or into the teacherÂ’s position, no ma tter how correct that view may be.Â” Instead ZebroskyÂ’s pedagogy fosters dialogue, and Â“ potentially creates a spaceÂ” where he can share his views, Â“commitments and positio nsÂ” with students, Â“inviting them to understand the positions, but also to cha llenge them and to work on making new structures and positions, developing new know ledge about and perspectives on language and powerÂ” (Â“SyracuseÂ” 93). The argument for epistemic rhetoric is an argument for a kind of introspectionÂ—that is, a study of th e self and self-expre ssionÂ—that involves all aspects of the individualÂ’s, or the studentÂ’s, reality, not merely that selfÂ—that constructÂ— that best fits the academyÂ’s stringent adherence to traditionalist conventions and assumptions, or best fits the marketÂ’s particul ar labor needs at any particular moment, or even best fits the studentÂ’s media-influe nced, solipsistic fantasies of modernist individualism and capitalist consumerism. Displacing the innocence of current-traditional and expressionist pedagogical modes is a politics that informs the field of composition and insists upon a recognition of its role in perpetuating forms of overt dominance th at remain long after the disestablishment of covert dominance. Bu t this pedagogy of public discourse is not entirely without precedent. Ma ny critical theorists argue that critical pedagogy is a return to the classical Isocratean notion of rhetor ical scholarship. Norman ClarkÂ’s reading of Isocrates paints this classical rhetorician as a critical agent, concerned about the effect of rhetorical pedagogy on the public intellectuals of the day. While Frank Walters is equally interested in IsocratesÂ’ attention to prepari ng students to participat e in and contribute to the nationÂ’s political future, Walters does find need for a critique of IsocratesÂ’ initial
121 individualism, which makes his application to postcolonial contexts somewhat problematic. In response to calls for a Â“redefinition a nd renamingÂ” of the practice of rhetorical theory, Clark applies IsocratesÂ’ arguments to th e current field of criti cal theory in efforts to bridge the gap between dogmatism and relativ ity. Paying close attention to the Â“call for critical rhetoric,Â” Clark finds use in Isocrete sÂ’ definition of the rh etorician as a social servant. Specifically, Clark calls attention to the increased importance of locality and contingency in rhetorical theory, while voici ng his concerns about Â“ potential dangers in the present conceptualization of critical rhetoric.Â” (111) Clark cites Bertrand RussellÂ’s caution for humility in philosophy and his conc ern about prideful claims of Â“Truth.Â” Clark assures that his reference to Russell is not an attempt to equate Â“critical rhetoric with social irresponsibility,Â” nor to pres cribe a search for Truth. Clark wants to perpetuate the Â“dissociation of rhetoric from dogma;Â” he also wants to caution against the arrogance that he finds in some critical rh etorical practice. But Clark also locates arrogance in relativistic approaches to rhet oric: Â“If left completely unchecked,Â” he claims, Â“radically relativistic critique can slip into ungrounded self-expression.Â” (111) The problem with relativism involves the relationship between the rhetor and the audience, a relationship too long unconsidere d. For Clark, Â“this relationship must be specified; otherwise, critical rhetoric deni es its own position as a practice within a culture.Â” Clark believes that a clarification of the rhetor-audience relationship will redefine the role, or Â“face,Â” of the rhetor. He suggests that a Â“careful study of a politically active intellectual should help us better visual ize the practice of criti cal rhetoric in order to manage the dialectic between doxa and se lf-expression.Â” Clark chooses to examine is
122 Isocrates, rather than Aristotle, because, Â“Isocr ates is arguably one of the original critical rhetors.Â” More relevant for Clark are the wa ys in which Isocrates managed to Â“balance the demands of the community with the dema nds of critique.Â” Isocrates, according to Clark, grounded his rhetorical work in the community in which he lived and practiced. This, for Clark, makes Isocrates an exemplar y model for the new cr itical theorist: Â“He practiced rhetoric in a time when solutions had to be proposed, when he had to offer visions of how his community should be.Â” Because of the local and contingent appr oach to the writing act, Isocrates is presented as a rhetor embedded in the co mmunity, thoroughly and proactively aware of the relationship between rhet or and audience. Supporting th is argument with evidence from IsocratesÂ’ texts, Clark Â“offer[s] Isoc rates as someone who links the theory and practice of critical rhetoric.Â” Clark names se rvice as the principle tool enabling Isocrates to succeed at linking theory and practiceÂ—a linka ge that, for current rhetorical theorists, appears almost impossible. But Clark finds use and a sense of hope in the idea of service: Â“critics offer to the communities they serve a provisional course of action,Â” he argues; Â“service checks the criticÂ’s slide into radica l relativism by turning the criticÂ’s attention away from self-expression and toward the co mmunity.Â” Specificall y, Clark argues that, Â“the perspective of service fo cuses on how critique and pr oposed courses of action will serve the communityÂ” (112). Clark uses Isocrates to illustrate and articulate this idea because of IsocratesÂ’ definition of what he calls the Â“ critical servant.Â” The idea of the critical se rvant places a social responsibility on the studentsÂ’ discursive proficiencies and implicates writ ing instruction in the construction of civic agents. ClarkÂ’s arguments rely on two simultaneously existing definitions of service that
123 he finds in Greek texts and part icularly in the texts of Isocra tes. He classifies IsocratesÂ’ numerous terms for service into Â“t wo clusters, headed by the words opheleia [meaning help, aid, service] and douleia [servitude, subjugation, bonda ge].Â” Clark analyzes IsocratesÂ’ use of these two terms to suggest that, Â“IsocratesÂ’ concep tions of the role of rhetors in society was inextricably linked to an understanding of prac tical, useful political service.Â” Discussing IsocratesÂ’ pragmatic approach to politics and service to the community, and citing Nicocles Clark avers that Isocrates' role for intellectuals would include Â“point[ing] the government and the peopl e in the direction of the greatest benefit and Â‘giv[ing] directions on good morals and good government.Â’Â” Student agency is closely linked to ethi cal positioning as studnets learn to use language to construct the world discursively in ways that will serve the populace. ClarkÂ’s connection of service to opheleia aids in the argument th at, according to IsocratesÂ’ Panegyricus Â“the duty of critical servants was to toil Â‘in private fo r the public good and [train] their own minds so as to be able to help [ ophelein ] also their fellow-men.Â’Â” (113) Also important to service, for both Clark andÂ— he would argueÂ—Isocrates, is lived experience, that which places rhetor in comm unity and that which builds the relationship between rhetor and audience. Clark claims that Â“Isocrates made lived experience a necessary and vital part of the life and educati on of the critical servant in politics.Â” What lived experience offers for the critical theorist is the kind of pragmatism that Clark believes Isocrates proposed; lived experience necessitates providing a useful course for action. In other words, reflection and critique are not useful unl ess they lead to an answer to the question, Â“What do we do next?Â” Without a course of action, critique risks becoming relativistic. Lived experience grounds theory in practice. Hence, opheleia for
124 Clark, suggests that Â“the critic al servant serves by proposing a practical, useful course of action to the community.Â” (114) ClarkÂ’s definition of douleia as servitude provides a balance for the purposedriven element of critical service which, becau se of its pragmatism, he states, Â“could fall prey to the snares of pride and arroganceÂ” (115). Douleia then, places the rhetor as responsible to the people. In light of ClarkÂ’s definition, the rhetor is in servitude toÂ— is subjugated byÂ—the people. Â“The strongest conno tation of service,Â” he states, Â“urges the critical servant to place the good of the people first, to subjugate his or her will to the good of the peopleÂ” (116). This hierarchy avoi ds the arrogance that Russell cautions against because the intent of the critique is always for the good of the people, and not the good of the rhetor herself/himself. Thus, the rh etor takes the role of the servant. More precisely, Clark adds that, Â“servitude as douleia is a giving over of oneÂ’s will to fulfill the important function of addressing th e needs of the communityÂ” (116). Critical pedagogy attempts to produce criti cal rhetors who take on the world and intervene in its interpellative strategies. Cl arkÂ’s definition of the critical rhetor is necessarily a social one, but one that does not completely diminish the rhetorÂ’s individual identity. For Clarke, Â“the agency of the cr itical servant is obtai ned by understanding the agentÂ’s subjectivity as a combination of the i ndividual and the socialÂ” (117). The critic is neither autonomous nor a flatterer. The role of the rhetor is neither to placate the community with what it desires to hear, nor to laud over the community with selfgratifying observations. Rather, the rhetor imbeds herself/himself within the community and notes what would be best for the comm on good. Clark argues here that this work demands attention to history and also assert s that, Â“knowledge and power come from the
125 criticÂ’s reading, interp retation, and re-making of the comm unityÂ’s historyÂ” (117). He uses IsocratesÂ’ work to demonstrate this intell ectual and critical practice and argues that Isocrates Â“interprets the histor y of a community, showing how past choices led to present conditions, [and] from this interpretation, the critical servant then points a way to a new course of action. Clark does state, however, that this course of action is always contingent. Rather than making claims to universality, critic al servants Â“work to ground their knowledge in the present community [a nd are always aware that] knowledge is tied to the community; it is always temporarily re lative, always situati onally contingent, and always subject to further critique or re visionÂ” (118). In other words, knowledge is kairotic. What Clark attempts to do with Isocrates is create a new, or rath er recreate an old, metaphor for the rhetor: that of the serv ant. For Clark, Â“serving the needs of the community stops the rhetorÂ’s potential slide to radical relativism and self-expressive critique, while critiquing the acts of the community keeps the rhetor from becoming a slave to dogmaÂ” (121). As a servant of th e people, the common good becomes the driving force and the intent of the rhetorical critique This role also demands an application of history, which situates critical practice in the community itsel f and grounds theory in the communityÂ’s particular context. Clark lays out the work of the critical rhetor: Â“the critic throws himor herself into the community, l earns from its history, experiences its beauty, and offers to that community an enriched vi sionÂ” (121). Clark notes that Isocrates is not an ideal human being. He also carefully places him within hi s own historical context and, anticipating critique of Isocrates as an exemplar, sugge sts that critic s Â“look for the transformative possibilities in discourses, beyond the limited uses to which they have
126 been put.Â” While he draws atte ntion to the fact that Isocra tes did not extend his energies to liberation of women or slav es, Clark argues that, Â“Isocrates Â’ critical service came in the openings he created as his discourse que stioned some cultural givens (even as it accepted others).Â” Here Clark returns to the perc eption of any critical theory as ideal and cautions against such an idea. He discusses the importance of problematizing and states that Â“future critics will find that all discour ses, including those that have broken some bonds of domination, serve to strengthen othe r bondsÂ” (122) This, he argues, should not impede the practice of critique and the atte mpt to transform the world for the good of the community. For Clark, Isocrates serves to s upport the observation that, Â“critical service can wed the aesthetic and the practical in cri ticism and enrich the lives of people in our communitiesÂ” (123). (Re)Creating new metaphors fo r student writers from old, established ones assist compositionists in attaining th e ethos of the traditional wit hout retaining historyÂ’s many debilitating inheritances. Isocra tes serves well for calling on th e ancient definitions of the rhetor as Â“the good man speaking wellÂ” to argue for the traini ng of social agents, and not corporate products. While Frank Walters finds much of use in IsocratesÂ’ rhetorical paideia he is also concerned with the concentration on indivi dualism to be found in some of IsocratesÂ’ older work. In the attempt to embrace the more useful aspects of IsocratesÂ’ pedagogical philosophy, Walters provides hi storicism. By analyzing IsocratesÂ’ Panegyricus and making a comparison to Against the Sophist written ten years later, Walters manages to draw some interesting connections between Is ocratesÂ’ shift away from individualism toward a more comm unity-centered rhetoric and contemporary rhetoricÂ’s turn from expressivism to cri tical pedagogy. For Walters, just as Isocrates
127 shifts from elitism to communal pragmatism, rhetoric is shifting from the individualism to social constructivism. Citing Victor Vitanza, Walters argues that in the Panegyricus Â“Isocrates endorses the Â‘ant hropocentric worldviewÂ’ and [Â… ] espouses the ideology of individualismÂ” (155). Walters opposes this view and judges Isocrates, here, as Â“profoundly anti-democratic.Â” Against the Sophist gains for more respect from Walters who argues that here, Â“the anthropocentric wo rldview is shrouded in doubt. Isocrates now endorses, it seems, a democratic pedagogy consistent with positions taken by contemporary epistemic rhetoriciansÂ” (155). The Isocratean influence appears in many writing pedagogies geared toward discursive participation in ci tizenship or democracy. Walters sees much of the work of contemporary rhetorical theories such as Ja mes Berlin and Susan Ja rratt in Isocrates: Â“Isocrates posits alternate sites of disc ourse production in which boundaries between individual and community constantly shift;Â” this construction of reality presents the individual as one participating in the sh aping of identity and the construction of individuality (156). Walters cites Kate Rona ld to suggest that a primary concern in Greece at this time was the tension between individual and reality. Walters places Isocrates within this struggle between individual and commun ity in order to investigate IsocratesÂ’ Â“epistemic turn,Â” citing Â“what Di onysius of Halicarnasus saw in Isocrates as a turning Â‘away from treatises on dialectics and natural philosophyÂ’ to a concentration Â‘on writing political discourses on political science itselfÂ’Â” (156 ). IsocratesÂ’ attention to persuasion is the primary indicator of his sh ift to what is now considered epistemic theory. Regarding epistemic rhetoric, Walters suggests that, Â“its dominant concern, as it was for Isocrates, is to re configure the relationship betw een individual and community
128 within an epistemic environment that encour ages the individualÂ’s participation in the social construction of knowledge but at th e same time grants the individual the space within which to convert cognitive insights in to discourseÂ” (157). Isoc ratesÂ’ interest in studentsÂ’ taking persuasive action in the lead ership of the nation is placed in direct opposition to his earlier attention to the philoso pher as elite individual and knower of all truths. As Walters notes, Â“by turning rhet oric away from speculative philosophy to politics, Isocrates converted speech into an epistemic enterprise by which public discourse conceived, debated, a nd determined realityÂ” (157). While the notion of the critical agent can be linked to the Isocratean notion of the rhetor as public servant, rhet oricians must still be careful about appr opriating Isocrates, and Athens, wholeheartedly to support their own rather diffe rent agendas. Walters is wary of his own connections between Isocrate s and new rhetoric even as he suggests it. His concerns are with the inconsistency betw een the political perspe ctives of Isocrates and those of the contemporary rhetoricians Many of IsocratesÂ’ perspectives on individuality suggest a level of elitism that WalterÂ’s fi ndsÂ—if not unacceptableÂ—well worth critique. Noting that Isoc ratesÂ’ Â“ideal orator is an elitist,Â” he argues that this element of IsocratesÂ’ paideia Â“misrepresents the general dr ift of IsocratesÂ’ rhetorical theoryÂ” (157). WaltersÂ’ history of AthensÂ’ oratorical culture serves to place IsocratesÂ’ notions of the elite in perspective with th e political context of the nation. IsocratesÂ’ Â“pedagogy and the rhetorical theory it articu lated drew extensively from a culture which valued speech as both a practical and philosoph ical necessity;Â” as the masses participated in isegoria Isocrates grew concerned about trai ning philosophers to aid the nation in making the right decisions. That Isocrates pla ces those decisions in only the hands of the
129 elite is what Walters finds Â“anti-democratic, Â” arguing that Â“they can no more be ignored than AthensÂ’ own anti-democratic exclusi on of women, slaves, and foreigners from citizenship.Â” Noting the incons istency between these views and the democratic drive of new rhetorical theory, Walters not es that Â“it is an aspect of IsocratesÂ’ thinking which can be assimilated, uneasily if at all, into contem porary rhetorical studies only so long as his epistemological skepticism accompanies itÂ” (158). Even while the shadow of ancient Greece would seem to deter from new rhetoricÂ’s democratic zeal, Walter attempts to salvage Isocrates as a credible contributor to the cause. As he analyzes IsocratesÂ’ Â“epistemological skepticism,Â” he attempts to reclaim the classical Greek rhetorician in orde r to form a connection to classical tradition. He cites Welch and Rummel who Â“underscore a divided epistemol ogy in Isocrates in which the elitist pretensions of the individual ar e absorbed into the pragmatic interests of the community.Â” In this way, Walters ar gues, Â“In IsocratesÂ’ thinking, communal pragmatism serves as the oratorÂ’s outward sign of inward wisdomÂ” (160). So while Isocrates trained his students in the rhetorical abilities to communicate the best political courses of action for the nation, he also tr ained them, in recognizing and strengthening those forms of style that would be most c onvincing to the polis. As Walters notes, for Isocrates, Â“the writing process brings the wr iter into contact with the public world, and crucial to the success of the pr oject is an eloquence that gi ves meaning and coherence to the writerÂ’s thoughtÂ” (166). For WaltersÂ’ this is the ultimate saving grace of Isocrates. This construction of the writing process elimin ates the individuality of expressivism by inculcating it with purpose.
130 The public turn in rhetoric and compos ition is in many ways a return. Invoking ancient rhetoric not only authenticates these efforts to shift writing pedagogy fro the workplace to the public sphere. Calling on ancien t rhetorical education also reinvigorates the teaching of writing with a stronger sense of purpose by placing it in the problematic political world of public disc ourse. Walters relates IsocratesÂ’ turn to the exchanges between expressivist rhetorical theorists, such as Peter Elbow and Donald Murray, and epistemic rhetoricians, such as Berlin and Pa tricia Bizzell. He supports BerlinÂ’s theories of rhetoric as a way of knowing and, citing Je ffery Bineham, argues th at, Â“Rhetoric exerts a powerful social influence; it is the m eans by which interpreta tion becomes knowledge; it is the communityÂ’s rationale for the social construction of realityÂ” (168). He cites James Berlin as Â“representing one important phase of the modern ep istemic returnÂ” from expressive forms to writing as Â“a public and communal enactment of a political interaction.Â” He continues to treat Isocrates skeptically, but does conclude that Â“Berlin and Isocrates are [not] too far apart, for Berl in also recognizes that students who write (or who are taught to write) within a social epis temic paradigm enact political interactions in terms of their own experiencesÂ” (169). While Isocrates may have been less concer ned with the social influences of the dominant paradigm on his orat ors, his attention to writing as political, for Walters, is worthy of note in a defense of epistemic rhet oric. Â“The contemporary epistemic return,Â” he notes,Â” focuses, as it did for Isocrates, on politics, though the difference may now be that more emphasis is given to promoting self-awareness of oneÂ’s situatedness as a prelude to joining the wider community wh ere the respect for difference includes a respect for othersÂ’ situatednessÂ” (160).
131 As one example of such self-aware ness, Henri Giroux among others has explainsthat Â“whiteness can no l onger remain invisible as a raci al, political, and historical construction.Â” Instead, he believes that Â“the privilege and practices of domination that underscore being white in America can no l onger remain invisible through either an appeal to universal norm or a refusal to explore how whiteness works to produce a form of Â‘friendlyÂ’ colonialismÂ” (105). The rela tionship between whiteness and the teaching of writing is historically embedded in the history of slavery, but th is is not a history that is comfortably included either in the history of language instru ction in America, or in the practice of it. Instead com position reposes more often in the fragmented world of postmodernism, dabbling with forms of writi ng with little attention to forms of expression, or in the bureaucr atic world of the market, dictating, commodifying, and authorizing forms of discourse while dem onizing and disenfranchising others, all the while privileging or dooming the communities these discourses represent; either world is safe as long as it remains decont extualized, ahistorica l, and apolitical. But this is fantasy, for in reality, as Blitz and Herbert put it so well, Â“the view, the cultic faith that our studies of texts, of writing techniques, of scientific principles, and of art forms, are nonpolitical is deludedÂ” (15). Stepping away from the delusion of apol itical writing instruction, rhetoricians have found great comfort in th e transformative possibilities av ailable in the classroom once the teacher openly and responsibly acknow ledges the politics at play in the writing classroom. Julie Drew believes that contextual izing writing is the most useful way of facilitating studentsÂ’ critical engagement in the writing clas sroom. Rejecting notions of Â“good writingÂ” as innate talent Drew suggests that Â“educating students to tackle with the
132 theoretical concept of writing-within-competing-social-forces, and helping then to explicate the particular social forces within which they write, is one way to directly address the concerns of those who would te ach writing as a democratic projectÂ” (414). This democratic project both protects student s from teacher indoctrination by focusing on indoctrination itself, and strengthens student sÂ’ writing skills by making writing an active engagement with the social world. This seems to be the direction that co mposition is taking, following Patricia BizzellÂ’s prediction that the field is in a para digm shift that will lead it to pay closer attention to the contextual nature of language and language instruction. Cautioning against allowing applications of Thomas K uhn to resort to simple scientism, Bizzell argues believes that the field of composition should Â“work toward a new paradigm that allows us to examine the ways in which language sharpens and directs critical analysis of the historical situation in which we and our students and our society find ourselvesÂ” (52). Attention to politics in th e classroom is in many ways far less political than ignoring the tacit politics that ar e at play in all classrooms. Wh at Bizzell is asking for is a pedagogy of discourse analysis Â“t hat would foster responsible inspection of th e politically loaded hidden curriculum in the composition cl ass.Â” This class, to better suit the needs of all studentsÂ—rather than the historically privileged standardized discourse communityÂ— would politicize the composition classroom by Â“pointing out that discourse conventions existÂ” and she adds, by making it clear to ever yone that the classroom is actually already politicized (99). The study of discourse would include not only the simulation of prescribed discursive formations, but also the investiga tion of the formation of various discursive
133 formations. Henry Giroux agrees with the ca ll for discourse analysis. Instead of a focus on academic discourse however, Giroux argues for an education for democracy, one that teaches students that, Â“the relationship between knowledge and power can be emancipatory, that their histor ies and experiences matter, and that what they say and do can count as part of a wider struggle to ch ange the world around th em.Â” For Giroux this type of teaching requires a relearning for educators as well, who will require Â“a language that makes them sensitive to the politics of their own locationÂ” and one that would necessarily rearticulate the ro le of administrators, teachers, and other cultural workers, making them all Â“self-conscious of the hist orically contingent nature of their own theories, methods, and modes of inquiryÂ” (25). This Â“language of historical perspectiv eÂ” Giroux evokes infuses the educator with a stronger sense of purpose than that proscribed by existing social forces. Instead, this perspective is perceived as Â“an awareness that the way things are is not the way they have always been or must necessarily be in the fu ture.Â” Here, the necessary historical inquiry of this perspective inevitably links the edu catorÂ’s pursuits to Â“the imperatives of moral and political agencyÂ” because to have the hist orical perspective Â“is to locate ourselves and our visions inside of rather than outside of the language of hi story ad possibilityÂ” (28). For Giroux and others, the historical perspectiveÂ—one that understandably, would include the postcolonial perspectiveÂ—places educators on stronger ground that the foundation of traditional hierarchical structur es that are, albeit slowly, dismantling under the pressures of critical analyses of historical forms of power. The paradigm shift Bizzell observes in th e discipline of English studies suggests that this is a new era for composition, one th at can prove itself of great service to
134 students, to the field of English studies, and to the world at large, by integrating not just studentsÂ’ docile bodies into the world, but their active minds, brimming with their own experiences in the world, and their own pers pectives and ideas on how to make the world a better place. Educational le aders, such as WPAs are taki ng seriously the responsibility of preparing these students to participate ac tively and responsibly in an epistemic world. GirouxÂ’s historical perspective hopes to provi de educators with Â“a language of critical imagination, one that both insists on and enables them to consider the structures, movements, and opportunities in the contempor ary order of things and how we might act to prevent the barbaric and develop those aspect s of public life that point to its best and as yet unrealized possibilitiesÂ” (29). Historicizing writing instru ction not only reveals the political underpinnings of policies and practices; it al so provides useful examples for arguing against the perpetuation of ineffective pedagogies and s uggests possible avenues for transformative change. Knowing where we came from can so metimes help us see where weÂ’re going. Susan Jarrett agrees that educators should be self-reflective, a nd understand the political and ideological positioning that they invariab ly bring to the classroom. For Jarratt, responsible educators are rea dy at rhetorically important moments, to demonstrate not only our particular opinions on subjects, but, Â“more important, how we derived themÂ— how they may be connected to personal histor ies and social positions and how each of us will necessarily be limited in assessing those histories and views.Â” Here Jarratt acknowledges the difficulty of such work a nd realizes that this difficulty is what strengthens the pedagogies of silence preval ent in current-traditional and expressivist rhetorics. But the compositionists asserts that Â“that difficulty should not prevent us from
135 taking seriously our role as public intell ectuals to make formation of political consciousness the subject of literacy education.Â” Promoti ng the role of the public intellectual does not equate with indoctrination in JarrettÂ’s analysis; rather, she Â“rejects the charge that liberatory pedagogy is somehow more intrusive or manipulative than what it seeks to replace.Â” What Jarratt has noticed in liberatory pedagogies is a penchant for dialogue, inspired, more often than not, by FreireÂ’s critique of banking e ducation as well as by FoucaultÂ’s historical analysis of the panopticon. Rejecting topdown structures of learning, these so-called Â“politic alÂ” teachers instill in students a sense of participation in discursive transaction by priv ileging public, shared dialogue th at intervenes in discursive constructions of reality and that questions the rigidity of discursive formations. JarrettÂ’s pedagogy is interesting because it is blatantl y, unapologetically political. She realizes that, Â“when teachers make their own political and ethical commitments to social change part of the course, students who have internal ized a model of education as the transaction of Â‘objectiveÂ’ knowledge may feel an uncomfortable di ssonance,Â” but she does not believe that this is cause for seizure of liberatory e ducation. She acknowledges that Â“speaking openly about ethics can create for students a painful awar eness of the absence of a strong community consensus about righ t and wring in our huge, diverse social system,Â” but also attests that, Â“it can also provide a source of relief, pleasure, and challenge in confronting these anxietiesÂ” (36). It is difficult to test i ndoctrination, finally, but that does not mean we must ignore its presence. For rhetoricians concerne d with indoctrination, dialogue and active participation in discourse serve as a more comfortable means by which to ethically work
136 in within the educational apparatus. Zebr osky, who infuses his composition courses with cultural studies, believes that Â“Dialogue is th e key to success.Â” For this reason, he argues that Â“it is not possible or desi rable to pretend that politics doe s not exist in the very pores of the classroom, the curriculum, and language studies,Â” and adds quirkily, Â“Language is not neutral. If it were, itÂ’d be dead.Â” This somewhat facetious remark is sage in many ways; the English language is laden with hist orically produced contentions, sycretisms, worldviews, and hierarchies that are constantly at play in its epistemological work in the world. All of these elements are always and everywhere political, and the language does live in the highly political arenas of discourse. To educate students to partic ipate in arenas of discour se, then, requires a hearty commitment to politicizing discourse itself. This work is being done in various and sometimes disparate configurations within th e field of English studies, just as it is practiced actively, yet differently, in th e field of postcolonial studies. As with applications of postcolonial theory in other academic disciplines, the pursuit is what is important, the ethical and historical positioning provides the direction toward an end that is not entirely known, but strived for. This striving is commendable to po stcolonialists like Said, whose brave investigations of racializing practices in the formation of Orientalism as an academic discipline have forced edu cators out of the comfortabl e authoritative positions of unquestionable vessels of truth. For Said, the recognition of the truth of OrientalismÂ’s political origin and its continuing political actuality necessitates Â“the obligation on intellectual as well as political grounds to investigate the resi stance to politics of Orientalism, a resistance,Â” Said notes, Â“symptomatic of what is deniedÂ” (199).
137 The voicing of new truths about the po litical underpinnings of educational disciplines is difficult work, but it is of greatest value to stude nts who would rid the world of oppressive forces. As a result of hi s uncovering of the oppressive history of an academic discipline, for Said, Â“the role of the intellectual is not to consolidate authority, but to understand, interpret, and question it;Â” in this work he finds Â“another version of the notion of speaking truth to powerÂ” (502). SaidÂ’s educational agenda here is similar to what the new rhetoricians are calling forÂ—ac tive student participat ion in learning, with an open understanding of the historical and ideological positioning of the students, the teacher, and the discipline. Â“What I try to impart in students,Â” Said offers, Â“isnÂ’t so much reverence for authority or above all for what I say as a teacher.Â” Here Said appreciates the flexibility of his position in the humanities, and assets that there is Â“a terribly important thing that one can teach at the same time th at one teaches a field or a subject or a discipline.Â” Harking back to the shift in rhetoric and composition, Said joins the call for creating in students Â“a sense of critical awareness, a sens e of skepticism, that you donÂ’t take whatÂ’s given to you uncritically, [ Â… ] namely, a kind of healthy skepticism for what authorities sayÂ” (501-2). Said finds place for this kind of disciplinary work in American academies in particular, because, Â“compared to most African, Asian, and Middle Eastern universities, the American unive rsity constitutes a relatively utopian space, where we can actually talk about the boundaries of the acad emy,Â” yet he is not idealistic, noting the debilitating Â“tendency in the academy to fo cus upon membership in a guildÂ” which he argues Â“tends to constrict and limit the cr itical awareness of the scholarÂ” (500-01). Working within these boundaries, scholar s can insist on a pedagogy that opens up
138 studentsÂ’ possibilities rather than limiting them to establis hment-produced and politically mute constructs; navigating the boundaries, however will prove dangerous without a strong sense of oneÂ’s political location as well as a strong sense of the relationship between that location and historically pr oduced structures of power. Placing oneÂ’s historical perspective within a discourse of ethics will also serve to bolster educatorÂ’s positioning against charges of indoctrination as those ethics will often stand on firmer ground than those of ideologica l and political invisibility.
139 Chapter 5: The Promise of Post colonial Work in Writing Program Administration The operating principle that guides this project can be stated simply: sound writing programs are theoretically informed. Nothing innovative can come from a writing program that turns a blind eye to the prevai ling theories on langua ge, identity, social formations, and historical circumstances. Theo ry is a useful resource for WPAs. Theory provides methods for contextualizing the many challenges that occur and reoccur in the history of writing instruction. The challenges WPAs face may have far more to do with historical formations of power and exploitationÂ—and with the in stitutionÂ’s role in perpetuating those formationsÂ—than with the victims of writing program failures, though they often receive the blame, the failing grade, and the kick out of the academic door. Theory provides perspective, rather than direct solutions or quick fixes. Theories hold Â“explanatory powerÂ” that Â“helps us understand the problems, situations, and contexts of our work, thus positioning us to make decisions and take actions based on a richer understanding of their implicationsÂ” (Weisner and Rose 189). Specific theories such as those from postcolonial studies not only provide broa der contexts from which to understand given situations, but postcolonial theory also provides an agenda of transformation th at is highly valued in the new politics of difference manifested in the active work of the WPA agent of change. Postcolonial analyses of writing instruction draw attention to the identities at stake in the interplay of language and it gives writi ng instructors keen insight into the
140 politics of language stratification and linguist ic colonialism. Lisa EdeÂ’s WPA theory invites political positionality as a meaningful way of producing responsible and engaging writing programs. Ede values the self-reflexive perspective that theory provides. Â“Because we are all influenced by assumptions practices, and forces of which we can only partly be aware,Â” Ede argues, Â“schol ars in composition cannot address issues surrounding the politics of our location in the ac ademy solely or primarily at the level of theory, but must rather inquire into our own practices and into the ideologies that ground them.Â” Ede believes that Â“theory can certain ly inform and aid this effortÂ” (184). Postcolonial theory provides a useful context by which to probe the ideological interplay and the identity politics that are ofte n kept invisible in th e traditional paradigm still existing in much of the work of writing program admini stration. Placing WPA theorizing on the challenges to writing pr ogram administration w ithin the context of postcolonial studies also serves to defend the weighty scholar ly work that is part and parcel of sound writing program administration. The administration of an agency-focused writing program requires a great deal of scholarly vigor, as WPAs must negotiate th e contentious space that is the intersection between encouraging hegemonic struggle and en forcing language discipline. The project presented here provides such grounding, taking seriously the ideological impact of the discourse of colonialism and racialization on the current structure of writing programs and on the options WPAs have embraced in the past to address these challenges. Postcolonial theorizing will also serve to introduce new options that aid WPAs in producing transformative strategies that foster positive changes in the structure of their writing programs, and in the discursive agency of their students.
141 The work of postcolonial theorists lik e Edward Said has greatly influenced academic disciplines by exposing their historical connections to epistemological forms of violence that perpetuate hu man denigration. SaidÂ’s notion of liberal humanism involves investigating the academyÂ’s complic ity in forms of domination th at continue to silence or at least mask the ardent efforts by subaltern groups to engage in hegemonic struggle with the forces of colonial dominance. In Homi BhabhaÂ’s homage to Edward Said, he heralds SaidÂ’s Â“commitment to Â‘humanis tic resistanceÂ’ (SaidÂ’s term) to what appears to be the performative function of narrati on in Â‘maintaining rather than resolving the tension between the aesthetic and the national, usi ng the former to challenge, reexamine and resist the later in those slow but rational modes of reception and understanding which is the humanistÂ’s wayÂ’Â” (Â“AdagioÂ” 11). This humanistic resistance can be applied to the work of the WPA as a means by which to articulate the ways in which WPAs as theorists and practitioners can resist the decontextualizing forces in traditional writing instru ctionÂ—forces that insist on displacing writing from action, and ideas fr om the larger world. By maintaining the tensions between the individual composing act and the hegemonic forces at play in every historical moment, WPAs can cr eate strong writing programs th at better prepare students not only for intellectual and theo retical pursuits in academic di sciplines, but also civil and transformative pursuits in the discur sive spheres of the social world. Agendas such as these do not come in neat packages that can be offered up to the student consumer or the market investor. Inst ead, this kind of work bridges the old notion of rhetorical scholarship as training the public agent to participate in discourse with new approaches to composition that investigate and dismantle the debi litative aspects of
142 inherited discourses. Involving as it does the dismantling of syst ems, this kind of work is necessarily difficult and to track systematica lly. Questioning SaidÂ’s insistence that the work of humanistic resistance is Â“slow but rational,Â” Bhabha concedes that, Â“in making visible the complex and conflictual relati ons of part and wholeÂ—overdetermination, liminality, translation, displacement, minor itization, dominationÂ—slowness articulates the movement that exists between the space of words and the social world. Slowness also Â“strengthens our resolve to make difficult and deliberate choices relating to knowledge and justice in the face of contingenc y, silence and mortalityÂ” (11-12). Slowness is not easily unde rstood or welcomed in the fishbowl world of the WPA, where everyone calls from all sides fo r accountability, action plans, and results; but shifting the focus of a writing program to reside within the cont ext of the history of colonialism can slow things down somewhat. The context of postcol oniality allows for pedagogical agendas that en courage minoritarian discour ses. Bhabha envisions a disciplinary agenda that Â“crea tes opportunities for oppositional writingÂ—the resistance of the part to the hegemonic wholeÂ—in the pro cess of constructing subaltern solidaritiesÂ” (12). Certainly slowing down the role of th e WPA can pull the field out of the wave of positivism that has so strongly drawn it into the realm of the corporate marketplace. Slowing down may allow the field to lean in ot her directions that gear the field toward reach for a post colonial world, finally rid of residua l colonialism. SaidÂ’s humanistic resistance is a useful means by which WPAs can take the time to articulate the historical, ideological, and political positioning of their programs, to question whether those positions serve the needs of the students, the academy, and the larger world, and to rearticulate writing programs to better at tend to the realities of postcoloniality.
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About the Author Toni Francis received a Bach elor of Arts degree in E nglish from the University of Florida and pursued graduate st udies at Florida Atlantic Univ ersity, where she received a Master of Arts degree in English with a c oncentration in Multicultural Literatures and Literacies. She taught academic writing for th ree years before entering the Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida. While at the University of South Florida, Toni Francis served as President of the English Graduate Student Association, wo rked as Graduate Mentor for incoming Graduate Assistant Instructors of Com position, and founded and coordinated the USF Lakeland Campus Writing Center. In additi on to teaching Composition and Advanced Composition at USF, as well as Technical Writing and Communication for Engineers, Ms. Francis also taught Early Shakesp eare and African Amer ican Literature.