05
Dec
08

Olsen’s Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work

Gary Olsen, ed.
Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Joseph Harris’ Review

•    Olson’s Rhetoric and Composition As Intellectual Work brings together two sets of essays-one arguing for composition as an academic discipline and the other offering sketches of what scholarship in that discipline might look like.
•    The quality of writing is high, even when the arguments are familiar:
o    Olson agitating for ideological critique,
o    Thomas Kent explaining paralogic rhetoric,
o    Cindy Selfe urging attentiveness to technology,
o    Victor Vitanza discoursing playfully about sophistics,
o    Stephen Mailloux insisting that theory really does have consequences,
o    Susan Miller and Susan Wells digging around in the archives
•    Olson asserts that “composition should be an intellectual as well as a service discipline” (xii).
o    While Olson makes it clear that he is not arguing against teaching per se but, rather, against a view of the field as one “devoted solely to improving writing pedagogy” (xvi), his phrasing distances intellectual work from service and associates it with discipline.
•    Gary Olson argues against what he calls a “disturbing trend in the discipline” (499) to blur key terms and categories describing our work, arguing that “teaching is not research; it can draw on research and apply research and confirm or discredit research results, but it’s not coextensive with or identical to research”

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