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The Teaching of Writing and the Public Work of the Transnational University

Gerrard, Hannah (2012) The Teaching of Writing and the Public Work of the Transnational University. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This project enriches recent efforts to “transnationalize” the field of composition studies by examining the teaching of writing in the context of the university as a transnational institution. In so doing, I also question the association of composition instruction with a national public project concerned with rational argument in a democratic, deliberative public sphere; I argue that this straightforward association is disrupted by the imperatives of the transnational university, and hence “public writing” pedagogies must better take this context into account. I examine how civic purposes emerge in a range of writing classes – professional, public, and academic – as students negotiate the transnational university’s imperatives of flexibility and diversity. I draw on recent rhetorical scholarship that theorizes agency and situation in current contexts of circulation to reconsider the student’s agency in post-national civic spaces, and to propose how writing classes might offer micro-strategies towards potential civic action.

In addition to this detailed pedagogical work, I examine how literacy instruction has been and is situated at an institutional level in relation to the changing formation of the university. In constructing a partial history of the teaching of “composition” in New Zealand, I examine how teachers have understood their work as having civic purposes, and how the increasingly global understanding of the university’s function reconfigures those civic purposes, as notions of access, research and teaching, and institutional responsibility change. I ultimately contextualize this work in New Zealand by looking broadly at recent developments in literacy instruction in the United Kingdom and Australia: I argue that attention to the positioning and the distribution of literacy work in the university across these national contexts makes evident both a transnational milieu of neoliberal reform and distinct national and local responses to such reform. I suggest these transnational negotiations should concern U.S. scholars and teachers committed to “public” rationales for their work, and to the increasingly compromised work of public education more broadly. In this manner, I question some of the attempts to “transnationalize” composition studies by aggregating pedagogies and research worldwide, rather than attending to what we might call a transnational “eduscape.”


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCarr, Stephenscarr@pitt.eduSCARR
Committee MemberBartholomae, Davidbarth@pitt.eduBARTH
Committee MemberBianco, Jamiejsb@pitt.eduJSB
Committee MemberGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Committee MemberSeitz,
Date: 18 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 April 2012
Approval Date: 18 June 2012
Submission Date: 12 April 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 275
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: composition, pedagogy, literacy, transnational, public sphere, university, higher education
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2012 14:48
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2017 05:15


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