since it came up a couple of weeks ago

A critique of the methods in Academically Adrift:

Gilyard and Phonics

In reading Voices of the Self by Keith Gilyard, I found myself alternately nodding and raising an eyebrow. My grandmother (a teacher) and father taught me to read using a phonetic method almost identical to the one put forth by Rudolf Flesch in Why Johnny Can’t Read, a book to which Gilyard objects (p. 36-37). I plan to teach my one year old cousin to read using the same method as soon as he is ready to learn. Being fascinated with the debates on reading pedagogy and a fan of Flesch, the section of the book dealing with him naturally fascinated me.

bell hooks interview

about her appearance on the ricki lake show


Disclaimer: I think orality is fascinating. I think that studying it is incredibly useful. I’m working it into my thesis. This, of course, means I could probably spend a lot of time just talking/writing about how Victor Villanueva uses orality. Or I could just talk/write about what he says about it. Let’s do that. It’s much more manageable.

Plurality of voices

I believe that one of the reasons that I became immediately attached to Bootstraps was the multiple voices that Villanueva's native Brooklyn allowed hom to encounter. Unlike Rodriguez's antagonistically conflicted reaction to the sound of black teenagers on the bus, Villanueva grew up surrounded by those, and other, voices and came to learn the rhythms of each dialect. Perhaps part of the reason is that when I first read this, it was on the tail end of my visceral reaction to Anzaldua's Borderlands and for so long, I had those two texts diametrically opposed to each other.

fictive kinship

This is, in some ways, looking at the other side of what Stephanie posted about.

Not Black Enough, or the Pursuit of Racelessness

As someone who is reading Bootstraps for the first time, I was struck by the openness with which Villanueva related his life story: the struggle to find gainful employment, the stints on welfare, the desire to maintain his ethnicity, even as he became “raceless,” and his struggle against all odds (it seems) to earn the Ph.D. I read Cross-Talk in Comp Theory as a new master’s student and was blown away at all of the ways in which academics write about writing.

Bootstrappin' the Rhetoric of Narrative

Victor Villanueva's Bootstraps is a difficult book to categorize. The book, in fact, tells me so on the back cover. The book is “unusual” in that “at one level it is autobiographical, detailing the life of an American of Puerto Rican extraction … [and] at another level, the book examines these same issues from a rigorously academic viewpoint.” So autobiographical is not academic. Story is not so studious.

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.

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