The Silent Protest: Open Hands, Closed Fists, and Composition’s Political Turn
Chair: Shannon Carter, Texas A&M-Commerce
In 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics, sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith called the world’s attention to the persistence of racism. That single iconic image of two Americans, black-gloved fists raised and heads bowed as the national anthem played and millions booed, remains indelibly etched in our collective memory.
In 2013, as Howard Tinberg calls upon us to consider “The Public Work of Composition,” it seems only fitting that we should return to this moment in conversation with one of the protesters: Dr. John Carlos. Indeed, the silent protest and its aftermath graphically illustrates both the power of what Edward Corbett called “the Closed Fist” and the excruciating limits of his “Open Hand” (CCC, 1969). It also calls upon us to consider our organization’s shifting position on the relationship between the composition classroom and the rest of society: our neighborhoods, communities, regions, America, and the world.
Yet for decades the individuals behind the Silent Protest have been rendered silent, effectively removed from any public discourse controlling the meaning of that powerful statement. Until very recently, the mass movements represented in that moment were largely absent from our public spaces and our conferences. We have been “civil”—our firsts closed, hands open. Silent. Compliant. As Nancy Welch has argued “civility functions to hold in check agitation against a social order that is undemocratic in access to decision-making voice and unequal in distribution of wealth” (“In Defense of Uncivil Rhetoric,” forthcoming).
No doubt our fists are closed again. Our fists raised together, we chant, “We are the 99%,” “We are Troy Davis,” and, most recently, “We are Trayvon Martin.” The Internet Boycott effectively shelves dangerous legislation. We “Occupy” every major city in the nation. We are writing democracy across the world as the Arab Spring gives way to the Occupy Moment, the Internet Boycott , recurring challenges to persistent racism. More than 40 years later, the Closed Fist of the Silent Protest resonates as never before. It is time for CCCC to return to this iconic moment and take stock. .
Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, Carlos earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics.
Dr. Carlos made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony and made a speechless statement, heard and seen worldwide. Winning the 200 meter, John Carlos accepted the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own, and raised a black-gloved fist crowning a bowed head to humbly reflect the strength of the human spirit.
Continuing his life-long mission to improve human rights conditions and to increase chances for the successes of our youth, Dr. Carlos is actively involved with global and community movements. In April of 2008, he once again took to the international stage and was a torch-bearer for the Human Rights Torch, which ran in parallel to the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay, and focused attention on China’s human rights record. In July of the same year, Dr. Carlos accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for his salute at the 2008 Espy Awards.
Scholarship and Composition as Public Works: Legal Control of Your Own Copyrights
Co-Sponsored by CCC IP Committee
Chair: Jeff Galin, Florida Atlantic University
Copyright law grants automatic legal protection for nearly all original writings, producing a legal regime of control over academic scholarship and student essays alike. Traditionally, copyright has been understood as a means for encouraging authors. In the modern academic world, however, copyright can just as often be an interference with the growth of knowledge. Copyrights are often transferred to publishers and other parties who do not share the goals of authors and researchers, leading to constraints and controls over future uses. As a result, tensions and lawsuits are expanding over the application and meaning of fair use and licensing terms. Often the best solution is for authors of new works to assert control themselves and share their rights. This presentation will explore the changing environment of copyright and the growing struggle over law and contract as means of control. In the end, authors hold the greatest power to prevent copyright conflicts through good stewardship of their own copyrights--by pressing for better contracts with publishers, by adopting new technologies for sharing works, and by choosing publishers and other means of disseminating that support open access of our academic and literary creations. Only through asserting control of our own copyrights can we prevent the constraints that are often claimed by others.
Kenneth Crews joined Columbia University in January 2008 as founding director of the Copyright Advisory Office (CAO). For more than twenty years, Dr. Crews has focused much of his research, policymaking, and teaching on copyright issues. He has published widely on the topic, and he is a frequent speaker at universities and meetings throughout the world. In 2008 he completed a study for the World Intellectual Property Organization (an agency of the United Nations), analyzing copyright statutes applicable to libraries in the laws of more than 150 countries.
The Mechanization of Writing Assessment, Courtesy of the Standardized Testing Industry
Chair: Les Perelman, MIT
In the mid-1990s, Todd Farley and friends earned eight dollars an hour to score student essays in the for-profit standardized testing industry. All rolled their eyes at the triviality of the work, a simplistic and superficial job which clearly favored speed and standardization over common sense. Farley and friends were paid to “read” a student essay approximately every two minutes, for eight hours a day, five (or six) days a week, for weeks on end; they joked that they could invent machines to score the student essays in such a mindless manner. Today, of course, that joke is not so funny, as such “automated scoring engines” really do exist. Farley will show, however, that automated scoring engines are less an exciting technological breakthrough than simply a shortcut for the testing industry to save time and make money, student writing be damned. If automated scoring engines that can’t read or understand student writing really can assess those essays as accurately as the for-profit testing industry currently does, Farley asks, what benefit can either corporations or computers bring to the field of writing assessment?
Todd Farley is the author of Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry and has written about education in The New York Times, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Tampa Bay Times, Christian Science Monitor, Education Week, Rethinking Schools, and Edutopia. He publishes regular columns on the subject at HuffingtonPost.com. He also writes about health, parenting, sports, and celebrity at periodicals including Neurology Now, Heart Insight, Hustler, Every Woman, Babble.com, New York Press, Working Waterfront, Port City Life, and The Camden Herald-Gazette. Todd lives in New York City with his wife and children.
Public Engagement with Literacy Instruction, MLA Style
The Modern Languages Association, primarily known by the public for its style guidelines for citing and documenting resources, has a much wider role when it comes to literacy instruction. In this presentation, Rosemary Feal, Executive Director of MLA, will discuss the organization’s historic mission, analyze the factors that come into play when higher education organizations work to encourage public engagement and support, and give an overview of what the MLA is doing today to reach our many publics.
Since 2002, Rosemary G. Feal has served as executive director of the Modern Language Association of America, an international scholarly society with thirty thousand members in one hundred countries. She administers the business affairs, programs, and governance of the association; is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs and editor of two association publications.
Writing the Public Good Back into Education
Chair: Donald Lazere, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
This session will examine how the ideal of higher education as a public good is losing its claim to legitimacy in a society that increasingly defines market interests as the sole measure of individual and social value and teaching largely as a measurable and instrumental task. Against this view of higher education as an adjunct of business culture, this talk argues for educators to take on the role of public intellectuals willing to engage in creating a formative culture of learning capable of nurturing the capacities to defend higher education as a public good crucial to sustaining a critical citizenry and a democratic society. In the current historical moment, higher education as a democratic public good faces a crisis of enormous proportions. At the center of this crisis, particularly in the United States, is a tension between democratic values and market values, between dialogic engagement and a creeping authoritarianism. Faith in social amelioration and a sustainable future appears to be in short supply as market fundamentalism performs the dual task of using education almost exclusively to train workers for service sector jobs and produce life long consumers. This talk will examine the responsibility of academics in dark times, and what it might mean for scholars not only to redefine the meaning of higher education as a public value, but also the promise of academics and critical pedagogy as crucial to developing the formative culture that make a democracy possible. Central to such a challenge is the necessity to define intellectual practice “as part of an intricate web of morality, rigor and responsibility” that enables academics to speak with conviction, enter the public sphere in order to address important social problems, and demonstrate alternative models for what it means to bridge the gap between higher education and the broader society. This is a notion of intellectual practice that refuses both the narrow instrumentality and privileged isolation of the academy, while affirming a broader vision of learning that links knowledge to the power of self-definition and the critical capacities of administrators, academics, and students to expand the scope of democratic freedoms, particularly as they address the crisis of higher education as part and parcel of the crisis of democracy itself .
Henry Giroux is Global Television Network Chair In Communication Studies
and a member of the English and Cultural Studies Dept.at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. A prolific author, Professor Giroux has been an extremely articulate and passionate advocate for progressive education and has mounted a spirited defense of public education in a time of intense privatization.
Privatizing Rhetoric and Democratizing Work: Contingent Choices
Chair: Thomas Miller, University of Arizona
Respondent: Seth Kahn, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
This session explores how the tendency to represent education as a private benefit rather than a public good has shaped colleges and departments, including composition programs, which are both broadly accessible and deeply dependent on "contingent" faculty. The contingencies that shape the "choices" we make will be examined by Gary Rhoades, Director and Professor of the University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education, and former General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors. Rhoades' scholarship examines the restructuring of academic institutions and academic labor (Managed Professionals: Unionized Faculty and Restructuring Academic Labor; and (with Sheila Slaughter) Academic Capitalism and the New Economy). His presentation addresses three dimensions of contingency and choice, emphasizing our agency in regard to each: in the educational purposes set out for the work of composition to prepare employees and/or citizens; in the contingent structures of academic labor that place many teachers of composition in isolated and vulnerable circumstances; and in the professional status categories that structure the careers of faculty in composition, English, and other fields. Professor Seth Kahn, co-editor of Activism and Rhetoric: Theories and Contexts for Political Engagement, will serve as respondent, and the session will be chaired by Professor Thomas P. Miller, author of The Evolution of College English: Literacy Studies from the Puritans to the Postmoderns.
Politics, Passion, Prose, and Poetry: Readings and a Conversation
Chair: Aja Martinez, Binghamton University
Many of you may know Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés to be an inspiring teacher and leader, but she is also a writer whose work connects her with the diverse experiences of Latinas throughout the country as well as of those of all English teachers of writing. As an Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Florida, she has been involved in the CCCC for over 20 years and masterfully served as co-chair of the Latino Caucus from 1995 till 2007, editing the caucus newsletter Capirotada during this time. Her work is included in several anthologies, most recently the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, and she was the 2009 Theodore Morrison Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. Her important collection of short stories, Marielitos, Balseros, and Other Exiles (2009), was followed by her Everyday Chica, winner of the 2010 Longleaf Press Poetry Prize. As a writing professor and a former leader of the CCCC Latino Caucus, she has inspired Latinos everywhere with her generous spirit, which is particularly apparent not only in her teaching, but is seen in her writing, where she represents the everyday experiences of poor yet strong and proud Cuban Americans from New Jersey, all the way down to Miami, and to Cuba itself. Her winning personality matched by superb skills as a writer and poet inspire by bringing to light what others turn away from, dignifying the least of us. During this session, she will read from some of her works and engage us in conversation.
What Creativity Looks Like: Writing with Word and Image for the Post-Paper World
Chair: Diana George, Virginia Tech University
We are living through the most significant moment in the history of writing since the invention of paper. With the creation of the Internet and the mass production of portable wireless composing devices (laptops, netbooks, smart phones), writers can now instantly publish and globally distribute not only what they are thinking, but what they are seeing, what they are listening to, and what they are reading. The shift from paper to screen has enabled unprecedented collaborative projects (i.e., mapping the human genome, Wikipedia); it has also transformed the global economy, erasing industries that once had a presence in every town and neighborhood: the local bookstore, the copy shop, the film developer.
What does the shift from paper to screen mean for those who teach writing? Some see education evolving into the delivery of massive online courses by celebrity scholars; others see it becoming an open-ended process of badge-earning and hurdle-clearing; and still others imagine a future where learning takes place in the context of gaming modules. This session will discuss another possibility, one where the writing classroom becomes a place where the anarchic power of the Internet is harnessed to promote both creative expression and creative thinking.
Professor Richard Miller is the author of As if Learning Mattered: Reforming Higher Education (1998) and Writing at the End of the World (2005). His published articles concern developing a philosophy of consciousness that promotes transformative teaching and writing practices. He has delivered over fifty invited talks across the country and abroad on how literacy is being redefined by Web 2.0 technologies. His current research concerns "the end of privacy" and how education is being changed as a result of the proliferation of hand-held devices that enable instant publication and global distribution of anything that can be seen or heard. He now publishes exclusively on his website, text2cloud