ACLA Panel: Gatekeeper, Mother Hen, Culture Agent?: Selecting the Appropriate Metaphor for Compositionists. April 1-4, 11/13

full name / name of organization: 
Toni Francis, Ph. D., The College of The Bahamas
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Gatekeeper, Mother Hen, Culture Agent?: Selecting the Appropriate Metaphor for Compositionists in the Era of Linguistic Diversity

In the postmodern and postcolonial age, linguistic diversity poses a challenge to the role of the composition instructor, and has politicized the compositionist by drawing attention to the ways in which the composition classroom can and often does determine a student's success or failure at higher education. This politicizing has resulted in the construction of a striking metaphor for the compositionist, namely the gatekeeper, barring access to scholarly and, consequently, economic agency for those whose linguistic prowess is in creolized, rather than in standardized English. This gatekeeper metaphor has in many conversations replaced the previous and equally problematic metaphor of the "mother hen". More recently, postcolonial scholarship in composition has introduced the notion of the compositionist as culture agent, intervening in the discursive conflict between the "home languages" students bring with them to the composition classroom, and the "school language" they are expected to appropriate, and attempting to offer students access and agency without hampering their contradiscursive potential.

While these metaphors all hold a place in discussions of the English teacher, this panel would like to invite presenters to consider whether any of these metaphors are sufficient, relevant, and/or useful in the context of their particular teaching practices as well as in the context of English's growing linguistic diversity. The panel would also invite presenters to propose new, more relevant metaphors for the English teacher, ones that perhaps more closely define the work we do, the agendas we make for ourselves, and the potential we see in our students.

Deadline for abstracts 11/13/09

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