Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom
Tara Roeder, St. John's University
Roseanne Gatto, St. John's University
Pub Date: 2014
ISBN 13: 978-1-6023565-1-1
Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse
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The collection spans numerous topics relevant to reclaiming a past theory of writing that has been dismissed and breathing new life into it by read more
The collection spans numerous topics relevant to reclaiming a past theory of writing that has been dismissed and breathing new life into it by reconsidering new theories of subjectivity and how the personal can be a useful strategy that can inform approaches to social justice. : The introduction provides a great introduction to the history of expressivism as a writing theory, its eventual dismissal by powerful academics in the field, and its enduring legacy in the classroom. It aims to add "critical" as a way of giving expressivism new life. Articles range from theory to social justice to historical and pedagogical approaches. Seems very comprehensive. Contributors range from well-known expressivist theorists such as Thomas Newkirk, Nancy Mack, Anthony Petruzzi, and Thomas Newkirk to newcomers to the field invested in conjoining social justice rhetoric to personal narrative. The book does not have an index but this is typical of many anthologies and I assume it's a series' editorial decision rather than authorial.
It seems that the editors as well as individual contributors are aware of expressivism as a central theory to the field of rhetoric and composition that due to its dismissal needs to be re-theorized and configured for the current historical moment. Appears error-free.
This volume seems extremely relevant to composition studies in terms of its reclamation of a somewhat moribund writing theory. By addressing issues relevant to the field, community practices, and the classroom within an expressivist paradigm, the editors are providing both a necessary critique of those opposed to expressivism and a well needed update to personal narrative that considers it as a critical writing practice. This book will be a great addition to graduate level rhetoric/composition courses as well as those already publishing in the field.
The contributions are not unnecessarily jargon-laden or inaccessible, yet some of the contributions do rely on particular theories that are specific to the field of rhetoric and composition and that are taken to be understood by readers.
There are quite a few contributors to the book but the editors have done a good job of making each of the sections as well as individual contributions relate to the overall theme of the collection. Additionally the movement from identifying what the critique of expressivism has been by theorists such as James Berlin to re-defining it as a critical practice is a consistent motif throughout.
You could easily mix and match some of the texts for a seminar's purpose although reading the introduction and several essays from the first section on Critical Self-Construction are necessary. As with any collection, readers should be able to read individual essays as stand-alone and this collection appears to do just that.
As noted earlier, the structure of the book is logical in terms of moving from theories to more brass tacks assignments and pedagogies. The editors do a good job of introducing the overall rationale for the organizational structure as well as what each section focuses on.
It reads like a digital book.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
The book seems to cover issues across a broad spectrum of experiences, theories, and pedagogies that include some development of critical, multicultural, place-based, feminist, and critical race approaches to 'the personal'. More emphasis could have been placed on how critical expressivism as a writing strategy can be linked to non-normative gender identities and also how it has been utilized in scholarship by historically oppressed groups to intervene in the overly white discipline of comp studies (thinking here of Vershawn Young, Kelvin Monroe, and Elaine Richardson).
I'm excited about this book's publication and plan to incorporate some contributions into my Intro to Comp Studies seminar.
The text covers the subject appropriately from various perspectives. There is no glossary or index. However, there is a well-developed Table of read more
The text covers the subject appropriately from various perspectives. There is no glossary or index. However, there is a well-developed Table of Contents, and references to sources and authors.
The content covers proponents as well as naysayers as to what the term expressisvism means. It is unbiased and thought provoking.
In the twenty-first century, Lizbeth Bryant (one voice of many in the OER textbook Critical Expressivism: Theory and the Practice in the Composition Classroom) offers a suggestion that expressionism (writing as a process and not a product involving a personal voice) is “out of vogue.” Nonetheless, many instructors still embrace the position that the personal does not implode the effectiveness of academic (more formal—often third-person) writing, but rather, enhances writing and composition skills. Personally, in an unofficial study, I have found that the number of university students advocating for more free-writing and creativity employed in university freshman English courses has convinced me of the value of this textbook, and that the need for this style of writing is indeed, “in vogue.
Free of jargon, this textbook would appeal to the students as well as the instructor. While presenting profound academic and pedagogical concepts, the authors do so in accessible prose.
The textbook's framework is consistent and provocative. It leads with definitions of its terms to complicating those terms to viewing the terms through varying lenses.
Well, Peter Elbow is self-referential, but so am I. How do you omit that from a call for personal writing?
Beginning with definitions of personal writing and expressivism, this text presents ideas in an appropriate fashion in order to engage the reader prior to presenting alternative perspectives.
I found no problems.
I found no grammatical mistakes. However, I did not read to edit. I followed the spirit of the text in reading for content, relevancy to culture, students and writing pedagogy. As a former newspaper editor for fourteen years, mistakes would have glared at me.
THE ECONOMY OF EXPRESSIVISM AND ITS LEGACY OF LOW/NO-STAKES WRITING This is a chapter in the book whereby Sheri Rysdam questions the relevancy of using academic writing templates that question students' cultural writing preparedness. Billed by the producers of such "fill-in-the-blank" templates as convincing students that there is one correct way to write--rather than allowing for free-flowing ideas. Such rigid forms of writing often confuse students. I find this to be the case.
Beginning my career as a Graduate student in a doctoral English program, I was enthralled with the outcome of students using methods of Peter Elbow, including free writing. Later, I was advised that free writing was too free-wheeling only to find that in Spring 2018 my students were stymied by using academic fill-in-the-blank templates to only realize that they were ineffective and more free flowing writing is needed in the twenty-first century as the more contested topics of the day--politics and religion--question students' identity, something that they negotiate through personal writing. In addition, the cultural media of the day taps into instantaneous creativity, something sorely needed in the collegre and university writing and composition classrooms. In the twenty-first century, Lizbeth Bryant (one voice of many in the OER textbook "Critical Expressivism:Theory and the Practice in the Composition Classroom" offers a suggestion that expressionism (writing as a process and not a product involving a personal voice) is “out of vogue.” Nonetheless, many instructors still embrace the position that the personal does not implode the effectiveness of academic (more formal—often third-person) writing, but rather, enhances writing and composition skills. Personally, in an unofficial study, I have found that the number of university students advocating for more free-writing and creativity employed in university freshman English courses has convinced me of the value of this textbook, and that the need for this style of writing is indeed, “in vogue.
Table of Contents
- Front Matter
- Preface: Yes, I Know That Expressivism Is out of Vogue, But ..., Lizbeth Bryant
- Re-Imagining Expressivism: An Introduction, Tara Roeder and Roseanne Gatto
- Section One: Critical Self-Construction
- "Personal Writing" and "Expressivism" as Problematic Terms, Peter Elbow
- Selfhood and the Personal Essay: A Pragmatic Defense, Thomas Newkirk
- Critical Memoir and Identity Formation: Being, Belonging, Becoming, Nancy Mack
- Critical Expressivism's Alchemical Challenge, Derek Owens
- Past-Writing: Negotiating the Complexity of Experience and Memory, Jean Bessette
- Essai—A Metaphor: Writing to Show Thinking, Lea Povozhaev
- Section Two: Personal Writing and Social Change
- Communication as Social Action: Critical Expressivist Pedagogies in the Writing Classroom, Patricia Webb Boyd
- From the Personal to the Social, Daniel F. Collins
- "Is it Possible to Teach Writing So That People Stop Killing Each Other?" Nonviolence, Composition, and Critical Expressivism, Scott Wagar
- The (Un)Knowable Self and Others: Critical Empathy and Expressivism, Eric Leake
- Section Three: Histories
- John Watson Is to Introspectionism as James Berlin Is to Expressivism (And Other Analogies You Won't Find on the SAT), Maja Wilson
- Expressive Pedagogies in the University of Pittsburgh's Alternative Curriculum Program, 1973-1979, Chris Warnick
- Rereading Romanticism, Rereading Expressivism: Revising "Voice" through Wordsworth's Prefaces, Hannah J. Rule
- Emerson's Pragmatic Call for Critical Conscience: Double Consciousness, Cognition, and Human Nature, Anthony Petruzzi
- Section Four: Pedagogies
- Place-Based Genre Writing as Critical Expressivist Practice, David Seitz
- Multicultural Critical Pedagogy in the Community-Based Classroom: A Motivation for Foregrounding the Personal, Kim M. Davis
- The Economy of Expressivism and Its Legacy of Low/No-Stakes Writing, Sheri Rysdam
- Revisiting Radical Revision, Jeff Sommers
About the Book
Critical Expressivism is an ambitious attempt to re-appropriate intellectual territory that has more often been charted by its detractors than by its proponents. Indeed, as Peter Elbow observes in his contribution to this volume, "As far as I can tell, the term 'expressivist' was coined and used only by people who wanted a word for people they disapproved of and wanted to discredit." The editors and contributors to this collection invite readers to join them in a new conversation, one informed by "a belief that the term expressivism continues to have a vitally important function in our field."
About the Contributors
Tara Roeder is an Associate Professor with the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John's University. She earned her doctorate in English from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2014. Her research focuses on feminist theory and women's memoir; non-oedipal psychoanalytic theory and pedagogy; and queer theory and pedagogy.
Roseanne Gatto is an Associate Professor with the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John's University. She earned her doctorate in composition and rhetoric at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Her research interests include archival research methods and social justice in composition/rhetoric.