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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Shattering glass mirrors : a case for historiographic theory and writing in composition studies

  • Author(s): Ruiz, Iris Deana
  • et al.

My dissertation, Shattering Glass Mirrors : A Case for Historiographic Theory and Writing in Composition Studies, elaborates the theory, history, and practice of critical historiography as a pedagogical approach for teaching composition in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual society. Critical historiography is founded on the premise that composition classes have much to gain from the incorporation of lost or neglected histories in the curriculum. The field of composition itself needs to be aware of the lost histories of composition, that is, the history of Composition in Midwestern and black normal schools as well as in schools that have served students of color and lower class students throughout the twentieth century, developing alternative composition pedagogical approaches in the process. The absence of this history calls into question established histories of composition and suggest that we look at these alternative approaches as models for developing alternative pedagogical approaches to the teaching of composition today. More specifically, in my dissertation, I examine the histories of Composition written by John Brereton, James Berlin, Albert Kitzhaber and Richard Ohmann. I do so to argue, in part, that these histories do not adequately address minority populations such as, Chicanos/as-Latinos/as or African-Americans. While Sharon Crowley, Lynn Z. Bloom and Susan Miller provide a critical analysis of histories of Composition, these histories also overlook these populations. This dissertation thus calls into question the very historiographies of composition, even those by scholars who would identify as revisionist historians. Thus, in my dissertation, and in my historiographic approach, I employ critical race theorists, Richard Delgado and Kimberlé Crenshaw , critical historians, Michel Foucault and Eric Foner and a critical education theorist, Paula Moya to challenge notions of traditional multicultural curricula. These curricula, as defined by Moya, are often based upon exclusionist premises in that they solely concentrate on identity politics. Instead, an inclusive multicultural curriculum challenges the victimhood status often applied to minority students. I, then, argue that an inclusive multicultural writing pedagogy can be one that makes use of alternative accounts of history for the purpose of looking at subordinated experiences to benefit all students, not just minority students. This approach goes beyond the use of culturally relevant material by focusing on developing students' argument skills through a critical reading of histories of particular periods or groups

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