|University of Utah
Office: 308C MBH; mailbox in 307 MBH
|fax. (801) 587-7801
voicemail: (801) 587-7803, recep. 587-7814
|Class meets T 2:00-5:00
Office Hours: T 10:30-12:00 and H 2:00-3:30 and by appointment
The Writing Wars: Scholarship and the Construction
Can published educational scholarship include poetry? Should Spanish
be translated for English-only readers of academic articles? What is the
relation between narratives and theories? What is the status of clarity
— is it a democratic appeal to inclusion or an oppressive mechanism for
making everything fit the dominant discourse? What status do reason, coherence,
objectivity, and accessibility have, in progressive educational scholarship?
Over the past ten years or so, what counts as scholarship in education
has become a matter for dispute, with newer — either more artistic or
otherwise transgressive — approaches to scholarship challenging the assumptions
built into traditional approaches to scholarship. Traditional approaches
to scholarship aim for transparency and accessibility, expecting claims
to be presented in a linear, more or less scientific fashion; alternative
and oppositional approaches, by contrast, may enlist forms of knowledge
making from outside the sciences (and sometimes outside the humanities
as well). This course will examine competing approaches to knowledge construction
and to the dissemination of knowledge in educational scholarship. Among
the questions we will be asking are how each kind of scholarship does its
work, how it addresses its audience, what its strengths are, what its limitations
are, what it assumes about meaning and knowledge, and what it assumes about
persuasion and transformation.
We will be looking at specific examples of each type of writing in order
to understand how it does its work and how it succeeds and/or fails in
addressing its audience and its materials. In addition to offering practical
suggestions for pursuing each kind of scholarly writing, the course will
consider a variety of theoretical arguments for and against each approach
to scholarly writing. It is not assumed that there is one “best” approach
to scholarly writing, but rather that there are important strengths and
limitations to each. Among the questions we will be raising will be that
of the nature of the scholarly investments in each approach to writing.
The readings will be available on electronic reserve at the Marriott
University Library or will be provided in class. Some handouts will be
available on the electronic version of the syllabus.
Requirements for the course include regular attendance and participation;
a midterm paper; and a final paper. The final paper should offer arguments
and counter-arguments regarding the positions it describes, and should
support the arguments with reference to the readings, lectures, and discussions.
While outside readings may certainly be included, the primary emphasis
should be on the readings from the course. (Outside readings are not required
for any of the papers.) The midterm should be 6-8 pages long. The final
paper should be 12-16 pages in length. There is no final exam.
Class attendance and participation 20%
Midterm paper (6-8 pages) 35%
Final paper (12-16 pages) 45%
In writing the final paper, you should take into account the following
1) The paper should focus on one or more issues regarding the
writing wars. (These might include, for example, the question of whether
scholarly writing can and should be generally accessible, and what the
considerations related to this are; how writing is related to knowledge;
issues of objectivity and neutrality; the role of emotion and experience
in scholarly knowledge; the kind of worldview represented by particular
approaches to scholarly writing; what counts as clarity, persuasiveness,
rigor, etc.). The issues criterion means that there should be an argument
in your paper.
2) You should discuss at least two of the modes or traditions
we have talked about in class, although one of these can be primary. For
example, you could talk mostly about genre-based writing in comparing it
to transgressive and transparent writing. (Keep in mind that genre-based
writing is a type of artistic writing. You can talk about artistic
and genre-based writing as two modes but don’t compare and contrast them,
as they do not have competing goals. Genre-based writing is a highly specific
type of artistic writing.) Or you could compare and contrast transparent
and artistic writing, giving each of them equal time. Possibly you would
make an argument for a kind of transparent writing that weaves in some
elements of artistic writing but subordinates these to the transparent
project — and so on. It is not required that you actually write in more
than one mode. I suggest that you rely on the transparent mode at least
strategically to a fair degree, as this is the language of power and therefore
a code you need to know. As you are learning other scholarly modes of writing,
it is best to practice them in occasional paragraphs or very short pieces,
rather than rely on them to do all your work for you. (Keep in mind, too,
your limited audience, i.e., me. I will be able to respond to some things
better than others. For example, I am better at responding to narrative
than to poetry. Check with me before embarking on anything too avant garde,
as I may have to tell you that I am not able to respond adequately to some
3) Naturally your paper should draw on and be informed by both the readings
and the class discussions. In the interests of a well focused and compact
paper, please do not combine this assignment with an assignment for a different
course. This should be a paper distinctively for this course. This is not
to say that you cannot draw on other things you have read, naturally, but
it is to say that it should be clear that this is a paper that emerges
from this course and that is pushing you (and me) to think further about
the issues raised in the course.
Doing a specific textual analysis of a provocative article from the
course and bringing other articles to bear on it would be one way of approaching
the final paper. Thus, for example, you could take the Patai essay on method
and evaluate it in light of hooks, Lugones, Richardson, Williams, and others.
This is not the only possible way to approach the final paper, however.
Such a paper would be issues oriented and argument-based, not simply expository
An epistemological and political journey is also a possible approach
to the final paper, insofar as it focuses on issues raised by the course
and is informed by readings from the course. It is better to have a tight,
focused paper than an overly ambitious paper that you try to squeeze down,
so with a topic like this, I would suggest focusing on some aspect
of the journey — for example, going back and forth between different ideas
about objectivity or accessibility; what writing in Spanish might have
meant to you at different points in your school career and how this ties
in with the issues raised in the course; or how you have struggled with
ideas about the role of emotion and experience in academic writing.
Tues. 7 Jan.
I. Introduction: Academic Ways of Meaning-Making
Francis Schrag, “Response to Giroux,” Educational Theory 38, no.
1 (Winter 1988): 143-44.
Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”
Laurel Richardson, “Skirting a Pleated Text: De-Disciplining an Academic
Life,” in Working the Ruins: Feminist Poststructural Theory and Methods
in Education, ed. Elizabeth A. St. Pierre and Wanda S. Pillow (New
York: Routledge, 2000), 153-63.
Jennifer Stauffer, “We Just Need to Forget,” The Daily Utah Chronicle
(Wednesday, December 6, 2000): p. 7, col. 4-5.
Electronic handout: Questions We Will Be Asking about Each
of the Readings
Tues. 14 Jan.
II. The Debate over Clarity
Roger Andersen, “Overwriting and Other Techniques for Success with Academic
Academic Writing: Process and Product, ed. Pauline
C. Robinson (Basingstoke, UK: Modern English Publications in association
with the British Council, 1988), 151-58. [ELT Documents #129]
James Miller, “Is Bad Writing Necessary? George Orwell, Theodor Adorno,
and the Politics of Language,” Lingua Franca 9, no. 9 (December/January
Henry Giroux, “Language, Difference, and Curriculum Theory: Beyond the
Politics of Clarity,”
Theory into Practice 31, no. 3 (Summer 1992):
Francis Schrag, “On Style in Theorizing,” Educational Theory 46,
no. 2 (Spring 1996): 151-59.
Tues. 21 Jan.
III. Transparent Writing: The Structure of the Argument
Lawrence Kohlberg, “Indoctrination versus Relativity in Value Education,”
in The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of
Justice (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), 6-28.
James D. Anderson, “How We Learn about Race through History,” in Learning
History in America: Schools, Cultures, and Politics, ed. Lloyd Kramer,
Donald Reid, and William L. Barney (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1994), 87-106.
Avon Crismore and Rodney Fransworth, “Metadiscourse in Popular and Professional
Science Discourse,” in The Writing Scholar: Studies in Academic Discourse,
ed. Walter Nash (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1990), 118-36.
Tues. 28 Jan.
IV. Analysis, Description, and Ethics in Transparent Writing
Daphne Patai, “Ethical Problems of Personal Narratives, or, Who Should
Eat the Last Piece of Cake?” International Journal of Oral History
8, no. 1 (February 1987): 5-27.
Liz Stanley, “‘A Referral Was Made’: Behind the Scenes during the Creation
of a Social Services Department ‘Elderly’ Statistic,” in Feminist Praxis:
Research, Theory and Epistemology in Feminist Sociology, ed. Liz Stanley
(London: Routledge, 1990), 113-22.
Nancy Zeller and Frank M. Farmer, “‘Catchy, Clever Titles Are Not Acceptable’:
Style, APA, and Qualitative Reporting,” International Journal of Qualitative
Studies in Education 12, no. 1 (January-February 1999): 3-19.
Tues. 4 Feb.
V. Aesthetics and Meaning in Transparent Scholarly Writing
Tues. 11 Feb.
VI. Institutional Politics and Transparent Scholarly Writing
George Orwell, in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George
Orwell, vol. IV: In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950, ed. Sonia Orwell
and Ian Angus (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968), 127-40.
William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White, “An Approach to Style,” in The
Elements of Style, 4th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000), 66-85.
Katha Pollitt, “Honk If You Like Art,” The Nation 265, no. 5 (August
11/18, 1997): 10.
Audrey Thompson, “Writing in the Transparent Scholarly Tradition”
Tues. 18 Feb.
VII. Critiques of Transparent Scholarly Writing
Margaret J. Marshall and Loren S. Barritt, “Choices Made, Worlds Created:
The Rhetoric of
AERJ,” American Educational Research Journal
27, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 589-609.
James W. Chesebro, “How to Get Published,” Communication Quarterly
41, no. 4 (Fall 1993): 373-82.
Tullen E. Bach, Carole Blair, William L. Nothstine, and Anne L. Pym, “How
to Read ‘How to Get Published’,” Communication Quarterly 44, no.
4 (Fall 1996): 399-422.
Mari Matsuda, “Affirmative Action and Legal Knowledge: Planting Seeds in
Plowed-Up Ground,” Harvard Women’s Law Journal 11 (Spring 1988):
Robert Madigan, Susan Johnson, and Patricia Linton, “The Language of Psychology:
APA Style as Epistemology,” American Psychologist 50, no. 6 (June
bell hooks, “Writing to Confess,” in Remembered Rapture: The Writer
at Work (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1999): 58-68.
Ofelia Schutte, “Cultural Alterity: Cross-Cultural Communication and Feminist
Theory in North-South Contexts,” Hypatia 13, no. 2 (Spring 1998):
Alain Locke, “Art or Propaganda?” in Voices from the Harlem Renaissance,
ed. Nathan Irvin Huggins (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 312-13.
Tues. 25 Feb.
VIII. Artistic Scholarly Writing
Tues. 4 March
IX. Critiques of Artistic Scholarly Writing
Elliott W. Eisner, “What Artistically Crafted Research Can Help Us to Understand
about the Schools,” Educational Theory 45, no. 1 (Winter 1995):
Patricia J. Williams, “The Death of the Profane,” in The Alchemy of
Race and Rights (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 44-51.
Carol Gilligan, “Teaching Shakespeare’s Sister: Notes from the Underground
of Female Adolescence,” in Making Connections: The Relational Worlds
of Adolescent Girls at Emma Willard School, ed. Carol Gilligan, Nona
P. Lyons, and Trudy J. Hanmer (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990),
Suzanne Fleischman, “Gender, the Personal, and the Voice of Scholarship:
Signs 23, no. 4 (Summer 1998): 975-1016.
Audrey Thompson, “Writing in the Artistic Scholarly Tradition”
Tues. 11 March
X. Genre-Based Scholarly Writing
D. C. Phillips, “Art as Research, Research as Art,” Educational Theory
45, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 71-84.
Mary Ann Cain, “Writing the Subject: Representations of Experiential Knowledge,”
Revisioning Writers’ Talk: Gender and Culture in Acts of Composing
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 1-21.
Suzanne de Castell, “Literacy as Disempowerment: The Role of Documentary
Philosophy of Education 1990, ed. David P. Ericson (Normal,
IL: Philosophy of Education Society, 1991), 74-84.
W. E. B. Du Bois, “Criteria of Negro Art,” in W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader,
ed. David Levering Lewis (New York: Henry Holt, 1995), 509-15.
Laurel Richardson, “Writing: A Method of Inquiry,” in Handbook of Qualitative
Research, ed. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln (Thousand Oaks,
CA: SAGE, 1994), 516-29.
Brent Kilbourn, “Fictional Theses,” Educational Researcher 28, no.
9 (December 1999): 27-32.
Octavio Villalpando, “Self-Segregation or Self-Preservation? A Critical
Race Theory and Latina/o Critical Theory Analysis of Findings from a Longitudinal
Study of Chicana/o College Students,” paper presented at the annual meeting
of the American Educational Studies Association in November, 2000 (Vancouver,
Audrey Thompson, “Experimental and Genre-Based Scholarly Writing”
Tues. 18 March
SPRING BREAK: CLASS DOES NOT MEET
Tues. 25 March
XI. Critiques of Genre-Based Scholarly Writing
Tues. 1 April
XII. Transgressive Scholarly Writing, Pt. I
Richard A. Posner, “Narrative and Narratology in Classroom and Courtroom,”
and Literature 21, no. 2 (October 1997): 292-305.
Claudia Salazar, “A Third World Woman’s Text: Between the Politics of Criticism
and Cultural Politics,” in Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral
History, ed. Sherna Berger Gluck and Daphne Patai (New York: Routledge,
Susan Glaspell, “A Jury of Her Peers,” in Images of Women in Literature,
ed. Mary Anne Fergusun (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973), 370-85.
Tues. 8 April
XIII. Transgressive Scholarly Writing, Pt. II
María Lugones, “Hablando cara a cara/Speaking Face to Face: An Exploration
of Ethnocentric Racism,” in Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras:
Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color, ed. Gloria Anzaldúa
(San Francisco: Aunt Lute Foundation Books, 1990), 46-54.
Greg Sarris, “Storytelling in the Classroom: Crossing Vexed Chasms,” in
Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1993), 149-68.
Sally Ito, “Issues for the Writer of Colour,” West Coast Line 28,
no. 13/14 (Spring/Fall 1994): 172-78.
John Robert Schmitz, “Offsetting the Exclusive Use of English in International
Discourse and Society 11, no. 2 (April 2000): 283-85.
Draft of final paper due (topics to be assigned or pre-arranged)
Sherene H. Razack, “Storytelling for Social Change,” in Returning the
Gaze: Essays on Racism, Feminism and Politics, ed. Himani Bannerji
(Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1989), 83-100.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Epistemology of the Closet,” in Epistemology
of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 67-90.
Tues. 15 April
XIV. Transgressive Scholarly Writing, Pt. III
Tues. 22 April
XV. Critiques of Transgressive Scholarly Writing
Judith Butler, “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire,” in Gender Trouble: Feminism
and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 1-34.
Patti Lather, “Fertile Obsession: Validity after Poststructuralism,”
Sociological Quarterly 34, no. 4 (November, 1993): 673-93.
Audrey Thompson, “Transgressive Scholarly Writing”
Tues. 29 April
Finals Week: No Class Meeting
Daphne Patai, “When Method Becomes Power,” in Power and Method: Political
Activism and Educational Research, ed. Andrew Gitlin (New York: Routledge,
Denis Dutton, “Writing Good, Bad, and Classic,” Philosophy and Literature
21, no. 2 (October 1997): 500-11.
Steve Fuller, “Whose Bad Writing?” Philosophy and Literature 23,
no. 1 (April 1999): 174-80.
Gerald Graff, “Academic Writing and the Uses of Bad Publicity,” in Eloquent
Obsessions: Writing Cultural Criticism, ed. Marianna Torgovnick (Durham,
NC: Duke University Press, 1994), 208-19.
Final paper due in lieu of exam