Don Unger's blog

Faces in Fragments

"What we designate as 'racial progress' is not a solution to that problem [(living "beyond the pale of the American Dream")]. It is a regeneration of the problem in a particularly perverse form" (3).

More of that Alchemy You Were Writing About?

In Rhetoric and Composition we frame the inexorable bookends of our field as theory and practice. We publish reams of articles attempting to forge this divide, to meet our scholarship with our teaching, our disciplinarity with on the groundwork at particular institutions. We try to point out the relationship between intellectual with material concerns. For example, in dealing with issues of contingent labor, graduate student professionalization, the role of public rhetoric or the academic rhetor in the public, etc., we front load theory and download action.

What kind of university are we creating?

The first half of the book addresses Rose’s personal experiences with education, particularly secondary and postsecondary ed. I understand how this portion builds Rose’s credibility in the latter half of the book, but in my opinion, Lives on the Boundary shines when he addresses the problems with “remedial education” in the research university from the standpoint of an educator. Rose frames the arguments over preparatory education as getting to the heart of what sort of university we hope to create.

Reading to Transgress

There are innumerable contradictions throughout hooks’ text. However, my issue isn’t with the contradictions as contradictions. My issues with Teaching to Transgress and hooks’ brand of critical pedagogy stem from her unwillingness to acknowledge these contradictions. She seems to be speaking out of both sides of her mouth without acknowledging that she is or why she is doing so.

Talkin' and Testifyin'

To say Smitherman goes into tremendous detail discussing the rules of BVE and contextualizing those rules historically would be redundant. It is the crux of the book. Smitherman’s project shows that BVE is a dialect as much as SWE. The questions I have relate to how to bring this into the classroom. I think we’re at a much different place than K-12 teachers in our ability to address such questions, particularly with the attacks on teacher agency and curricula going on around the country.

Gilyard, Critical Pedagogy, and ENGL 106

One of the passages for Voices of the Self that sticks with me:
“The older teachers (“chronic” teachers in Levy’s terms) firmly believed that ‘control must precede education’ (p. 25). They spent the majority of their time and energy as teachers attempting to master the technology of control, a system of devices including bribery, work routines, and even physical violence. In actuality, for the chronic teacher, control did not simply precede education, but was education itself” (63).

Problematizing the Existential

Victor Villanueva works at the tension between selves, that is the struggle between personal and professional selves. Not only does this tension permeate Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color, but it extends beyond the book into Villanueva’s life and how he describes his life to others. Bootstraps presents a tremendous amount of autobiographical data; however, Victor Villanueva’s author profile in the book contains scant information.

On Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

In a weekend of plowing through readings for courses and projects, I divided my Saturday between Hunger of Memory and Tim Dean’s Unlimited Intimacy. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that my understanding of the former is intertwined with my feelings about the latter.

Some thoughts on Garvey, multiculturalism, and education

It probably can go without saying that Marcus Garvey was full of contradictions. In a certain sense, who isn’t? However, these contradictions are more glaring or more forthright than those authors/activists we’ve read previously: Washington, DuBois, and Woodson. This makes it easy for people, particularly (white) academics to write him off as a thug, a racist (I’m sure some do.), etc. Personally, I found myself agreeing or sympathetic with some of his more extreme arguments.

Some thoughts on Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro

After reading The Mis-Education I have a lot of questions about how to transform higher education in America. Woodson addresses many of the ideas we discussed in class last week.

While these questions are interconnected, I am not sure that I am in a position to cohere them into a narrative structure, so I’ve decided to address them as fragments or questions culled from Woodson’s text. I suppose they cohere into heuristic of sorts, but they still seem abstract to me. They represent guiding principles and not tactics to apply uniformly.

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