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The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies
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The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies (Paperback)

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Synopsis

In this pointed appraisal of composition studies, Donna Strickland contends the rise of writing program administration is crucial to understanding the history of the field. Noting existing histories of composition studies that offer little to no exploration of administration, Strickland argues the field suffers from a "managerial unconscious" that ignores or denies the dependence of the teaching of writing on administrative structures. The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies is the first book to address the history of composition studies as a profession rather than focusing on its pedagogical theories and systems. Strickland questions why writing and the teaching of writing have been the major areas of scholarly inquiry in the field when specialists often work primarily as writing program administrators, not teachers. Strickland traces the emergence of writing programs in the early twentieth century, the founding of two professional organizations by and for writing program administrators, and the managerial overtones of the "social turn" of the field during the 1990s. She illustrates how these managerial imperatives not only have provided much of the impetus for the growth of composition studies over the past three decades but also have contributed to the stratified workplaces and managed writing practices the field's pedagogical research often decries. The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies makes the case that administrative work should not be separated from intellectual work, calling attention to the interplay between these two kinds of work in academia at large and to the pronounced hierarchies of contingent faculty and tenure-track administrators endemic to college writing programs. The result is a reasoned plea for an alternative understanding of the very mission of the field itself.

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