CCCC 2011 Panel "Contested Acts: Literary Genres in the First-Year Writing Classroom" (4/30)

full name / name of organization: 
Keith Wilhite / Duke University - Thompson Writing Program
contact email: 

It's been nearly eighteen years since College English published the point/counter-point between Erika Lindemann and Gary Tate over the place of literature in the composition classroom. The debate has shown no signs of slowing. Scholars continue to weigh in on what Peter Elbow has aptly described as "sites of conflict" between literature and composition. We have seen withering critiques of literary studies, encomiums to literature's salvific potential, and appeals to reconcile the rhetorical and poetic strands that characterize every act of reading and writing.

Though we believe such debate is generative, this panel seeks to set aside turf war arguments and instead examine a broadened sense of what literature can "do" in the writing classroom and how it might help students articulate what academic writing is and what its limitations are. To that end, we begin with a basic question that has received scant attention: How does one read and write about literature when knowledge about academic writing, rather than literary writing, is the primary objective of the course?

We seek proposals that map both the strengths and weaknesses of placing literary texts in the composition classroom. How might literary works help students explore the multiply constructed nature of all texts? In what ways does literature underscore that writing is always a contested act? How does putting a literary work in the context of an academic writing course stretch or entrench the disciplinary boundaries of both literature and composition? What are the pitfalls of such interdisciplinary approaches? We are particularly interested in proposals that take a thoughtful and rigorous approach to literary genre -- poetry, the novel, autobiography, or drama -- and how students might use literary texts to think through the complexities of academic argument and the various genres of intellectual writing.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words by April 30, 2010.