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Megen's CCCC proposal--First DraftEdit

While the romantic vision of a solitary, scribbling genius, kept company only by his inner muse may still linger in the minds of writers at all experience levels, the vast collection of group writing platforms that have been successfully implemented over the past thirty years--from writing centers to creative writing workshops to Google docs--serve as clear indicators that collaborative review and revision are important at nearly every stage of a writer’s process. When used well and often, collaborative revision spaces provide a clear audience for whom to write, heighten accountability, and sharpen critical decision making skills for both writer and responder. Within writing centers, workshops and accountability groups, consistent feedback from thoughtful peers reinforces the idea that writing is as much about process as it is product, and helps dispel the myth of internal “genius,” replacing it with a greater understanding of a writer’s agency.

Experienced writers and writing teachers frequently give credit to collaboration and peer review in their own writing. They discuss relationships with mentors and peers who have aided their development, and encourage young writers to do the same. This has the effect of seeming humility, creating on its surface the idea that if writing is done in a group, then the power of the successful writer is explained and made attainable--a Wizard of Oz level reveal. While I agree that writers develop best with peer feedback and consistent collaboration and accountability practices, and can point to several groups that have helped stimulate my greatest growth as a writer, I simultaneously propose that if students are not actively learning how to engage one another in thoughtful academic conversation, and practicing regular critique and revision within the composition classroom then the idea of “writing accountability group” becomes another layer of mystery. The image of the solitary genius is replaced by a ruling class of like-minded literati, all possessing different iterations of the “how to write” secret. Spaces like writing centers and creative writing workshops begin to teach useful collaborative revision strategies through employing such practices. I propose that the methods that these spaces use to create writing relationships may also work within the composition classroom, and that, because nearly all incoming freshmen are required to take at least one basic composition course, creating a course that focuses on collaborative revision has the possibility to make impact how students see writing across disciplines.

Dan's 4Cs proposal (5/19)Edit

Susan Miller’s Textual Carnivals is widely cited for its critique of the place and role of composition classrooms within the university, yet few scholars have taken up and dealt with Miller’s suggestion that traditional compositions classrooms often treat student texts as the disgusting “bodies” that make up the titular unruly carnival. This analogy of text-as-body figures in Miller’s book as a way of understanding the oppressive effects of pedagogies based on traditional oratory, intransitive writing assignments, or process. The analogy seems, as well, to mirror the body-as-text framework that is central to poststructural critiques of gender, embodiment, and identity.

In the two decades since the publication of Textual Carnivals in 1991, scholarly fields studying the narrativizing and textualizing of bodies (and embodied identities) have expanded and intersected with the field of composition; these include fields such as trans* studies and disability studies. It would seem to be an appropriate time, then, to re-examine Miller’s book, since so much fruitful work has been done to examine the body as a site of invention and composition as a site of embodiment.



This presentation will reconsider Miller’s carnival as a site of texts-as-bodies in light of new theories of embodiment emerging from trans* studies and disability studies, and in light of the way these theories have been integrated into the work of composition so far, in order to evaluate the uses and purposes of the text-as-body metaphor. In particular, I examine the way Textual Carnivals suggests that assessment of student writing is often analogous to enforcement of bodily norms and exclusion of non-normal bodies. I compare this to the way that trans* bodies and disabled bodies have been theorized as simultaneously disrupting the ideologies of normalcy surrounding gender and ability and expanding the available, and intelligible, means of constructing an embodied identity.

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