7300: Research Methods, Blog Post #2, Week 4 (Historical/Archival)

Random musings from readings:

The Composition Specialist as Flexible Expert: Identity and Labor in the History of Composition by Annie S. Mendenhall

keywords: interdisciplinary, composition teaching, flexibility in instructional staffing, history of writing and composition

Excellent article that documents timeline and evolution of writing teachers and programs from post WWII to present. Concepts of comp being inclusive across disciplines is predominant theme.

P.13 she states the “…expertise of composition teaching is difficult to describe” and, “the solution rests on redefining our knowledge, and thus expertise, as a collaborative undertaking.” This makes me wonder if perhaps we as researchers begin to research different questions perhaps the answers will be more definitive?

What really impressed me with this article was her incredible research. Reading through her notes section was almost as rich as the article.

Locating the Archives: Finding Aids and Archival Scholarship in Composition and Rhetoric by Chris Warnick

keywords: composition archive, finding aid, archival resources, archival collections, student writing selections

“Any particular archive is at once a fragmentary and interested record of textual production, the consequence of innumerable local decisions and unforeseen contingencies about the production and preservation of a large array of texts.” I connected this instantly to the concept learned in rhetorical theory….I call it the rhetorical jigsaw puzzle.

I find it very interesting that the field of technical writing in particular doesn’t have a systematic process for examining writing, rhetoric, curricula and pedagogy. Further, I’m scratching my head a bit and wondering why we don’t have a comprehensive database or wiki or at the very least some sort of index. We are organizers of information and cousins to library science. It is what we do. Perhaps the answer will appear as I journey on.

Archival Research as a Social Process by Neal Lerner

keywords: archival research, archival sources

Interesting article…didn’t follow the first part well…was heady material. Two key concepts:

“Our filters as researchers work in parallel with additional filters, a veritable purification process of social forces: the choices made by those who donate institutional and personal records, the choices made by those who collect and grant access to those records, and the choices we make as researchers in terms of what to examine and what motivates us to do so.” (200)

“….MacLean established a college that was “to awaken in its students a social and civic consciousness, a sense of community responsibility, and a willingness to participate actively in the solution of common problems for the common good.” (201) Interesting that later on that same page Lerner writes that the UOM Board of Regents dissolved the college and the efforts stating changing demographics and changing needs of in increasingly diverse student population.

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