TEACHING RIGHTEOUS, HOLY FIRE, HOLY SPIRIT WRITING THAT CHALLENGES AND RESISTS THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION AND CORPORATIZATION OF OUR STUDENTS' EDUCATIONS AND LIVES
THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK'S ENGLISH DEPARTMENT WHEN I WAS A PHD CANDIDATE IN COMPOSITION STUDIES AND TRYING TO FINISH MY DISSERTATION WITHOUT PROPER SUPPORT

THE RELATIONSHIPS AND TENSIONS BETWEEN COMPOSITION STUDIES, CULTURAL STUDIES AND POETICS (CREATIVE WRITING) IN A GRADUATE PROGRAM IN ENGLISH STUDIES

MY DISSERTATION WAS ENTITLED "'THE OTHER CULTURE WARS: THE CONFLICTS BETWEEN CULTURAL STUDIES, COMPOSITION STUDIES AND CREATIVE WRITING IN A GRADUATE PROGRAM IN ENGLISH STUDIES." THERE ARE MANY REASONS THAT I CHOSE TO DO SUCH A DISSERTATION -- BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, I WANTED TO SHOW THAT THERE WAS -- AND STILL IS -- A  MIDDLE GROUND TO THESE TENSIONS AND WAYS TO CREATIVELY AND IMAGINATIVELY RESOLVE THE DIFFERENCES THAT WERE CAUSING SO MUCH TENSION AND CONFLICT IN THE GRADUATE PROGRAM THAT I WAS ATTENDING AT THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT ALBANY. I HAVE BEEN A GRADUATE STUDENT AND AN INSTRUCTOR -- INCLUDING A TEACHING FELLOW -- IN FOUR DIFFERENT PROGRAMS IN THE USA THAT HAVE HAD A CULTURAL STUDIES COMPONENT, AND I AM VERY IMPASSIONED ABOUT MY WORK AND TEACHING IN CULTURAL STUDIES AND HAVE BEEN SINCE I WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE.  YET I AM ALSO VERY IMPASSIONED ABOUT THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION AND THEORIES ABOUT THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION STUDIES, AND HAVE ALSO WORKED IN COMPOSITION STUDIES AND COMPOSITION PEDAGOGY  SINCE I WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE.  IN EACH PROGRAM THAT I HAVE TAUGHT IN, THERE HAS BEEN A DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPOSITION STUDIES AND CULTURAL STUDIES -- YET THERE WAS A PARTICULARLY TENSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO AREAS WHEN I WAS A PHD STUDENT AT SUNY ALBANY AND MANY OF THE COMPOSITION STUDIES FACULTY ENDED UP LEAVING THE PROGRAM DUE TO THE TENSIONS AND THE LACK OF HOSPITALITY TOWARDS COMPOSITION STUDIES -- EVEN AS THE PROGRAM WAS ONCE A PROGRAM WHERE COMPOSITION STUDIES THRIVED AND SUNY ALBANY HAS SENT MANY OF ITS GRADUATES TO LIBERAL ARTS UNIVERSITIES THROUGHOUT THE USA TO INNOVATIVELY TEACH WRITING, POETICS AND LITERATURE.   YET THERE WERE SERIOUS AND DEBILITATING TENSIONS AND STRUGGLES BETWEEN CULTURAL STUDIES AND COMPOSITION STUDIES AT SUNY ALBANY, WITH MANY OF THE CULTURAL THEORISTS WANTING TO ARGUE THAT COMPOSITION STUDIES WASN'T "RIGOROUS" ENOUGH -- WHICH SIMPLY JUST WAS NOT TRUE AT ALL BECAUSE MANY COMPOSITIONISTS TEACH CULTURAL STUDIES TEXTS AND FRAMEWORKS AS PART OF THEIR COURSES AND MANY COMPOSITIONISTS ARE CONCERNED WITH THE ISSUES OF ACCESSIBILITY IN CULTURAL STUDIES AND MAKING CULTURAL STUDIES TEXTS ACCESSIBLE TO UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS AND WITH USING WRITING TO INTRODUCE STUDENTS TO CULTURAL STUDIES FRAMEWORKS AND WAYS OF RE-ENVISIONING AND CHALLENGING THE CAPITALISTIC SOCIETY THAT WE LIVE IN IN THE USA.  ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT PREVIOUSLY IS THAT WHEN CULTURAL STUDIES WANTS TO CLAIM "RIGOR," ITS TEXTS AND TEACHINGS BECOME OVERLY DENSE AND EVEN TOO OPPRESSIVE FOR UNDERGRADUATES TO UNDERSTAND AND WORK WITH.  RIGOR IS NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD THING AT THE UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL WHEN TEACHING CULTURAL STUDIES BECAUSE MANY STUDENTS ARE NOT YET PREPARED TO ENGAGE THE DENSE TEXTS AND IF CULTURAL STUDIES TRULY WANTS TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD AND THE WORLDS THAT STUDENTS LIVE IN, THEN IT NEEDS TO BE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT ISSUES OF ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSLATABILITY THAN WITH RIGOR AND GOING OVER THE HEADS OF THE STUDENTS TRYING TO LEARN ABOUT  CULTURAL RELATIONS, COMPETING VALUES AND POWER RELATIONS IN SOCIETY -- VERY IMPORTANT ISSUES WHEN WE WANT OUR STUDENTS TO BE THINKING ABOUT AND WRITING ABOUT WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT AND REVIVAL AND REFORMATION IN OUR AMERICAN CULTURE AS WE FIND IT TODAY.   AND THERE SEEMS TO BE A HUGE GULF BETWEEN HOW COMPOSITION STUDIES APPROACHES CULTURAL STUDIES AND AIMS TO TEACH ITS FRAMEWORKS AND INQUIRIES TO UNDERGRADUATES, THROUGH WRITING PROJECTS, AND HOW CULTURAL STUDIES AS AN (OVER)SPECIALIZATION TEACHES CULTURAL STUDIES TEXTS AT THE GRADUATE LEVEL.  I WAS WRITING ABOUT THESE ISSUES IN MY DISSERTATION BUT THEN RAN INTO INSTITUTIONAL POLITICS AND RESISTANCE WHEN I WAS TRYING TO COMPLETE MY DISSERTATION.  MANY UNNECESSARY HURDLES WERE THROWN-UP BY SOME OF THE FACULTY -- AS IF THEY DID NOT WANT TO SEE THE MIDDLE GROUND THAT I WAS TRYING TO REPRESENT AND FIND A COMMON, MUTUAL  GROUND BETWEEN COMPOSITION STUDIES, CULTURAL STUDIES AND POETICS AND UNDERSTAND THEIR JOINT AND SHARED INTERESTS AND INVESTMENTS IN TEACHING STUDENTS ABOUT HOW CULTURE IS SHAPED AND HOW CULTURE CAN BE TRANSFORMED.  IT IS SAD BECAUSE SUNY ALBANY'S PHD PROGRAM IN WRITING, TEACHING AND CRITICISM HAS PRODUCED MANY OUTSTANDING AND DEDICATED AND CARING TEACHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL WHO AIM TO REFORM THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION STUDIES AND CULTURAL STUDIES THROUGH THEIR TEACHING AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES.  I AM STILL LOOKING FOR A UNIVERSITY PROGRAM IN COMPOSITION STUDIES THAT WILL TAKE ME ABOARD THIS YEAR (2017) OR NEXT YEAR (2018) TO CONTINUE MY WORK IN THE TEACHING OF COMPOSITION STUDIES, CULTURAL STUDIES AND POETICS, AND I WOULD APPRECIATE HEARING FROM YOUR PROGRAM IF YOU HAVE TEACHING POSITIONS IN THESE AREAS AVAILABLE. MORE ON MY DISSERTATION PROJECT AND  THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COMPOSITION, POETICS AND CULTURAL STUDIES ON THIS BLOG IN THE FUTURE. SINCERELY,  DIANE K. OLSON 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)