Western States Rhetoric Conference, Fall 2015: "Miseducation of a Rhetor" Intro
“The Miseducation of a Rhetor: Disciplinary Fluidity and Critical Concealment
Hello, and welcome to our panel, “Rhetorical Resonance and Dissonance in Flux.” I’m James Beasley from the University of North Florida. Florida is not a Western State, and it is also difficult to identify much fluxuation in many of its characteristics, from its corrupt politics to the temperature. Many people are highly critical of pumpkin spice as a seasonal flavor, but it is one of the only few ways Floridians can mark the passage of time. At the University of North Florida, I teach courses in our graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition. As such, I am constantly defending my own critical pedagogies to both administrators who demand my students graduate with large starting salaries and students who want to acquire jobs with large starting salaries. For many years, a critical pedagogy was synonymous with the best practices in composition studies, but in recent years, it has been more difficult to rationalize space for critical pedagogies within the ever shrinking English disciplinary pool. Even some in English studies have called for the discipline’s turn away from critical pedagogies and toward more market driven skills, with the most controversial being Richard Miller in his 1998 book As if Learning Mattered. However, I would like to propose that even seemingly less innocuous divergences from critical pedagogies also run the risk of weakening rhetoric’s critical force.