CCR 611: Avoiding Neutrality

I found a lot of rich material from today’s readings, so I guess I’ll just pick a thread and run with it: neutrality.

As Horton notes, “Neutrality is just following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system wants us to be. Neutrality, in other words, is an immoral act” (102). In this context, neutrality is immoral because structures remain in place–be they of racism, classism, etc.–that thrive on the status quo. Thus, to remain neutral, one perpetuates the problematic momentum that already exists.

This resonates with Kynard’s observation on the rhetoric of student “need” that often gets invoked by teachers and administrators in the face of more radical critique. As she writes, “the trope of what students need is usually claimed as politically neutral territory for
a rather conservative mode of curriculum and instruction” (93). Such needs, argues Kynard, “are for the monolithic student, the monolithic kind of college writing requirement, the monolithic argumentative essay, and the monolithic college assignment” (93). In this way, doing nothing, one is siding with the status quo.

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Hiatus over

Hey all, I think I’m finally back from my hiatus. I apologize. I had a busy semester, coupled with a persistent clinical depression. But now, with summer here, I’m ready to start posting again.

Me this summer. [image from genio]
Me this summer. [image from genio]
I figured this blog will offer a great chance for me to work through some summer projects. In addition to my summer jobs and the day-to-day concerns of life, I have three things in particular I’ve been working on:

1. My thesis groundwork: I’ll be writing about composition theory, ideally focusing on critical pedagogy, and where critical pedagogy intersects with new digital concerns, like online classes, content generation, and multi-media writing (or multimodal composition, to use the fancy term).

What is critical pedagogy? Probably a good topic for a later post. But in general, it’s an attempt to use education to empower marginalized or “oppressed” individuals and populations. One of its foundational texts–if not the foundational text–is Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968, trans. 1970), where Friere argues for a more “humanizing” role for education, breaking the “culture of silence” created by traditional education and the oppression for the poor that it creates.

2. Writing about Egypt and the Egyptian Revolution: My major creative project for this summer will be an exploration of Egypt and the turmoil that has haunted it the past few years (or longer, really), weaving the personal, the journalistic, and the academic. It’s a mutual project with another friend, who also has a lot invested in the Middle East and the Arab Spring. I hope to begin by looking at some of my older pieces, reading the news in depth, and building from there.

3. Figuring out the next step: I graduate next May, with my English M.A. From there, I’m not yet sure what I’m doing. I may go straight to PhD, in either rhetoric and composition or philosophy. I may stay home, trying to make some money as I figure things out. I may also look at AmeriCorps, Fullbright, or Teach for America. As of now, these are all viable possibilities, requiring research.

How these three projects will come together remains equally uncertain. I can already see a few links worth exploring. I’m looking forward to writing again. In the meantime, have a good day.