Bawarshi, Anis. “The Challenges and Possibilities of Taking up Multiple Discursive Resources in U.S. College Composition.” Cross-Language Relations in Composition. Eds. Horner, Bruce, Min-Zhan Lu and Paul Kei Matsuda. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. 196-203. Print.
- B. begins by referencing Bazerman and Min-Zhan Lu’s work to draw attention to how an individual’s discursive resources (defined as “the often complex and sometimes conflicting templates of languages, englishes, discourses, senses of self, visions of life, and notions of one’s relations with others and the world – Lu 28) are intrinsically bound up in one’s self-identity (196). Our linguistic and other discursive resources are always present. . . we don’t just set them aside when we encounter new rhetorical situations[1. Bartholomae’s “Inventing the University” again comes to mind.].
- B. notes that there is a lot of pressure to measure outcomes of FYC – transfer and skill/knowledge development are increasingly sought out empirically to justify the work we do in the writing classroom. Yet, B. wants to draw attention to the incomes or resources that all of our students bring to the classroom. In assessing transfer it is important to account for the kinds of variation in linguistic and discursive resources in the hopes that the resources can be embraced and not excluded by the discourse of the university writing classroom (196-7).
- These resources are – in Canagarajah’s words – multilateral and generative and, as such, shouldn’t be considered impediments to student learning; rather, they should be seen as resources students can use to transform SAE for multilingual/multiliterate and politically motivated ends.
- B. notes that the current FYC structure denies students their “living-English work” (Lu) at precisely the same moment that the student demographic is becoming increasingly diverse/multilingual[3. There are so many echoes here to the work that Thomas Miller does in The Formation of College English when he considers the linguistic heterogeneity of students from the British provinces]. B. calls this policy (following Matsuda) “linguistic containment” and highlights how it is used to disempower multilingual/diverse students writers from being able to “create identification and establish authority in different rhetorical situations” (198). In addition, by disallowing “linguistic shuttling” FYC also prevents all students from seeing models of how to draw on their various discursive resources for strategic rhetorical purposes (198).
- 1st barrier to implementing a rhetoric of linguistic shuttling in our classrooms: the “learned inclination” that we, as teachers, have toward non-SAE. While teachers hold these inclinations, so do students. As such, it is essential that we confront this resistance by historicizing and making visible sites of linguistic contestation in our classrooms (198-9). To interrogate these inclinations, B. claims we need to investigate our “uptakes” (a term from rhetorical genre theory) or the recurring generic functions that are enforced by documents, institutions, and individuals. As B. notes, “Uptake helps us understand how systematic, normalized relations between genres coordinate complex forms of social action – how and why genres get taken up in certain ways and not others and what gets done and not done as a result” (199-200). Reconsidering our work with monolingualist language policy is difficult because interrogating our uptakes is very difficult to do. . . our uptakes are “learned inclinations” and are often deeply held attachments. B. sees this in his own research on student genre use – students are often aware of the rhetorical effects/purposes of particular genres; however, they don’t cross those genres into other domains because their uptakes have normalized the generic function. To get at how to institute a rhetoric of linguistic shuttling in our classrooms we need to interrogate the uptake (and its generic relation) in order to reveal the “learned inclinations” we all hold toward language/discursive appropriateness.
- B. notes that Lu’s work in the same edited collection offers strategies for using uptakes. The goal of this pedagogy is “to delay and, as much as possible, interrupt the habitual uptakes long enough for students to examine critically their sources and motivations, as well as for students to consider what is permitted and what is excluded by these uptakes” (201). This could involve relying on a student’s epistemic privilege when doing invention work rather than pushing students directly into research. We can also encourage students to “mix genres and modalities from different domains and then to reflect afterward on the experience of shuttling between discourses and domains” (202).
- B. notes that an examination of uptakes in the context of the FYC reveals that the acquisition of SAE promises one set of opportunities and, quite possibly, delivers something much different (202).