Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transnational Writing Program Administration

If you've been in any class with me since Jackie's Feminism and Composition class then you've probably heard this spiel before. After doing a lot of reading on the internationalization of composition and now transnational writing program administration, I'm pretty convinced that we as a field have to develop some new frameworks to incorporate international contributions better. The framework work we have now has created a an isolated community of composition scholars that work toward internationalization by exporting their ideas to the rest of the writing community. We already have this practice of basing most of our work on a local to global ideology. The problem is that what we are doing is not truly global. The framework we have developed for writing programs and writing studies has allowed us to create an isolationist  narrative that keeps our research and our scholarship focused on and circulated within the United States. Instead we need to look outside of United States to help us gain a more diverse perspective on writing studies, research, and pedagogy. 

My solution to this has been to borrow some of the frameworks that transnational feminism has already developed. In his book, Don't Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff discusses the length of time it takes to create new frameworks within a culture. I figured that instead of building a new framework from the ground up, we can speed up the process by borrowing a framework from transnational feminism, which has already had some success in developing a global network. Feminism and composition have grown up alongside one another and have had similar paths during the development of their respective fields. This makes transnational feminism a great place to look for a new framework.

What do you guys think? What could be some frameworks that we could use to change up our perspective on global writing studies?


  1. I agree that internationalization is often overlooked in considering writing programs. It is assumed that we are discussing the United States whenever the idea of a writing program comes up, and there is very little discussion in the research I have read in the field on how "college composition" manifests in other countries and how it compares to the ways we conceive of it in the United States. There seems to be this divide of TESOL/ESL and composition, and a lot of "teaching English internationally" gets funneled into that TESOL/ESL designation, but where is composition in all of that?

  2. I'm not sure I'm addressing your questions, Sara, but I can't help think that there are larger ideological and historical issues here--issues that help explain why we don't often think about making our field more international. I'm thinking about Jeanne Gunner's piece where she discusses the genre function of writing programs--how they exist because they are fulfilling a specific social task: (un)authorizing certain discourses. That's really depressing, but her argument makes sense when we think about the proliferation of rhetoric and composition scholarship (and even the existence of the field in general). That is, writing programs and our field exists because, in plain words, have to teach the (academically and otherwise) illiterate how to write the the "right" way. This is how, at least, the university sees us. We, of course, know what we believe about language diversity and the value and significance of honoring diverse languages and cultures.

    So, the point I'm making is, what genre function are international writing programs (found outside of America)fulfilling?