At 05:31 PM 3/2/99 -0600, Kevin Brooks wrote:
>As to why rhetoric, and particularly composition, has had a tough slog in
>Canada, my answer is almost always based in institutional reasons rather
>than ideological reasons (although the two are obviously not unrelated).
>Canadian archival materials and publications from the 40s, 50s, and 60s
>pretty consistently identify the ghastly or beastly nature of teaching
>composition; Canadians were also accutely aware of the exploitation of
>graduate students that fueled US composition courses and seem to have not
>wanted to repeat that practice (partly because there were so few graduate
>students to exploit!); and many members of Canadian English departments saw
>serious problems with American comp: it seemed to teach only mechanics, it
>seemed to teach fuzzy logic, and/or it ignored the value of great
>In short, I don't think Canadian English departments received as much
>external pressure to be practical as did American English departments, and
>Canadian English departments did not seem to see the financial pay-off of
>undertaking comp to be worth risking what they saw as their professional
>integrity. Maybe these pressures/values are changing?
>Department of English
>322C Minard Hall
>North Dakota State University
>Fargo ND 58103
In response to Kevin--in Ontario at least I see some pretty strange things
going on --perhaps because of current financial pressures.
What counts now as "American" style compostition are many of the practices
that many of us currently advocate. So for example interactive workshops,
attention to invention, drafts, collaborative projects etc. etc. are often
viewed (within English departments) as strange foreign and not-to-be trusted
What counts as "Canadian" seems to be the mechanistic style focused courses
as present in many of the handbooks that have been revised into "Canadian"
editions. This kind of course can be taught to large groups of students
through TA help especially if TA's are only expected to grade tests. So one
TA can be expected to take on 50 students--impossible, of course, if the TA
is working in a more interactive, draft-driven course.
I wonder if this is economic driven or are some other factors at work.
For example, I would really like to hear what's going on at places like
Western and Queen's. Those universities have an enormous impact on other
English Departments--as does the University of Toronto. Through Margaret
Procter and the valiant Toronto writing center group, I think we have
learned a lot in the last few years about Toronto. But the other two also
have a disproportionate effect on the rest of us. And I would like to know
the basis of this attitude. It makes no sense--especially
theoretically--which is why I can't quite figure it out.
>[log in to unmask]
Catherine F. Schryer
Dept. of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
(519) 885-1211 (ext 3318)