The Unsustainable Economy of Composition and A Cattle Call to Action: to define some problems with composition in the 21st century

Paper delivered by Arabella Lyon, at SUNY COW 2012 (University at Buffalo)

As a political philosophy, neoliberalism construes a rational for a handful of private interests to control as much of social life as possible to maximize their financial investments.

        Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searle Giroux,  Take Back Higher Education

In the 1990’s Susan Miller and Sharon Crowley wrote tellingly about the economics and politics of composition, but in the last decade, the problems of sad women in the basement have grown dire and the arguments about student needs sometimes have been abandoned for those about faculty needs.  Even as recently as 2005, Doug Hesse could suggest in his 4 C’s chair’s address that   “those who teach writing must affirm that we, in fact, own it”(459; emphasis in original). Right now, however, the issues in higher education no longer seemed based in institutional economies dependent on student needs, and faculty seems to have lost a position from which to refute the U.S. commissions and forces who would take writing away from writing teachers.  Now our problems are transparently part of a pattern of global capitalism, a pattern that erodes the pretense that faculty own writing. There can be no pretense of first year writing’s sustainability based on historical models of writing instruction….

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