A pedagogical *becoming: Alternatives to the rhetoric of “You don't know jack” in first -year composition

Colin Charlton, Purdue University


Taking Deleuze's description of "becoming" (Boundas 39-41) as an unfixed happening that exceeds a determinate sense of being/ savoir as a point of departure, I argue that a "becoming" pedagogy suits the scenes of teaching and writing in first-year composition classes. If teachers work with a conception of becoming pedagogy, I believe we will discover ways in which students are uncommon epistemological spaces. In other words, the writing students I work with already theorize the rhetorical nature of language and life, maybe with a different or even academically silenced language, but with just as much potential for seeing and producing insightful connections (knowledge). The alternative is to fall back on dominant characterizations of students as apprentices to teaching experts. In the Introduction I identify and explore what I call the "you don't know jack" phenomenon. In Chapter 1, I look at how conceptions of apprentices, experts, and "whatever beings" (Agamben) are tied to writing classes. In Chapter 2, I review Vico's conception of ingenium, Deleuze's conception of becoming, and Bill Readings' conception of dissensus in order to understand how becoming can work in a university. In Chapter 3, I compare Geoffrey Sirc's teaching strategies to mine to come up with a third pedagogy that privileges students as becoming writers. In Chapter 4, I discuss the consequences of a becoming writers for (1) composition as an area of knowledge, (2) mentors who will be advising future writing teachers, and (3) colleagues, with concerns similar to mine, who seek to compose lives out of composition. For me, this understanding of composition will posit it as a generative site of knowledge and energy for people who develop as writers within the post-cultural university. In Chapter 5, I offer an afterthought on how teachers become with a discussion of a first-writing project I've developed using t-shirts.




Blakesley, Purdue University.

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