Santa Clara University English Department Curriculum Discussion March 5, 2012
May 2009 informal conversations on the subject ofwriting in the curriculum & the English studies model.Various faculty read McComiskey & other scholars on thesubject.Sep 2009-May 2010 Terry & Eileen ask CC to investigateEnglish studies model & viability of tracks versusconcentrations. Written feedback on possibleconcentrations is solicited from two dozen faculty,concentration proposal outline approved by EC anddepartment in sense of meeting conversation.
By May 2010, we agreed on the desirability ofchanging the curriculum in connection with real concerns: Currency, Enrollment, Hiring, Student Need.
1. Disciplinary CurrencyDisciplinary currency: integrated English studies model with literature, cultural studies, and writing in positive, productive relationship.
2. Institutionally Appropriate Offerings Offerings appropriate to SCU, a regional comprehensive with a social justice mission(literature and cultural studies, wgst, multi-ethnic and global literatures)
3. Offerings Appropriate to Location Silicon Valley location: new media, science, technology and society, document design and technical communication. Information literacy=digital content production.SCU Strategic Plan 2B: “Strengthen distinctive academic niches that will allow us to meet the needs of Silicon Valley, both locally and in its global outreach."
4) Grow enrollment & communicate offerings betterA) We might grow the This could mean: major and minor by fewer courses overall making them simpler, more appealing and fewer requirements less arduous for more choices students and faculty. better communicationB) 1st survey suggests of opportunities that elective enrollment might grow with clearer offerings framed to communication of address student offerings concerns about careers and postgraduate life.
4a. Address Student Need Grad school in LCS/GRE readiness Grad school in writing/digital compositionEmployment involving writing/digital composition Other kinds of graduate/professional school
5. Balance Reading and Writing.The curriculum is one location to help us address issues of department culture, power and resource allocation. It can help reflect our commitment to balance between literary consumption and analysis (reading) and textual production (writing).
• How does our vision of the renovated curriculum relate to our hopes to establish a writing program?• In what ways can/should CTW classes serve as an introduction to the possibilities of the renovated major and minor?• How can we support greater integration of digital literacy in first-year writing? Again: these are questions that we might have addressed, but ARE NOT addressing at this time.
Key ThoughtWe didnt go looking for the most radical solution; we went looking for the most conservative solution that was still a solution. Our proposal combines the virtues of the one- department solution with some of the nimbleness of the 2-department solutions.Our ambitions are exclusively additive: we do not want to alienate any part of our current clientele. We want to serve them better and attract some new students as well.
Tracks• Few, large, aggregative, stable.• More like mini-majors with required courses.• Changing course requires substantial effort.• Tend to brand students: "Im in the writing track.”• The agglomeration of items in big tracks is only modestly effective at communicating the full range of possibility and choice, esp. in evolving fields.
Concentrations Many, small, flexible. New concentrations easily added; failing concentrations easily pruned. Work well with changing menus of courses. Similar to the current system of crafting an individual concentration, but communicates those possibilities to students in advance.
Concentrations Would not prevent students from crafting an entirely unique concentration with an advisor. Allow students to be interested equally in LCS and writing. (A very substantial benefit for students as well as faculty, not to mention administration.)
Time Line, 2010-11September-October: fog of confusionNovember: Formal presentation of framework agreed to in April-May 2010, together with survey data; highly positive reception. Open invitation for changes to framework issued.January: Revisions based on written and verbal feedback; survey data from English majors.February-March; more fog of confusionApril: Department formally endorses framework by a vote of 23 to 4.
Non-English Majors:Serious Interest in All Writing Fields Out of 181 respondents, Career value in most fields: 30-50 Possible minor in most fields: 10-20 Possible major in most fields: about 10Nearly across the board, writing concentrations attract at least 2-3 times the expression of interest in the top four LCS concentrations.
Survey of Junior and Senior English Majors, January 2011Many, possibly most students would take more than the minimum number of courses and/or additional concentrations.Student interest remained diverse across LCS and Writing fields, including historical literary fields.Students showed substantial interest in the ability to feature writing and employment-relevant concentrations on transcripts and in recs.
Survey100% of respondents would voluntarily elect a Writing concentration.37% would choose 2 LCS concentrations and 1 Writing concentration.23% would choose 2 Writing and 1 LCS.16% would choose 1 of each.
Time Line, Fall 2011September: Retreat features in-depth discussion of proposal within framework & dept agrees to staged discussion of a) foundation courses and b) concentration viability, plus any remaining concerns leading to a final proposal & vote in Winter or Spring, saving time for workshopping syllabi, etc, as proposed by Burnham & ElrodDecember: Dept workshops three-course foundation, and requests prompt vote by margin of 26-1. English 14, 15, 16 approved by paper ballot 27-7.
Time Line, Winter 2011January: Further comments on concentrations solicited; revisions; viability of concentrations confirmed; six additional course descriptions approved by CC (phase- in 2-3 per year over 2-3 years).February: CC discusses framework & remaining concerns about limited reqs for literary history, diversity.March: CC presents revised concentrations and proposed solution to concerns about limited reqs; takes verbal and written response; circulates final best compromise for up or down vote.
Time Line, Spring 2011April-May If proposal rejected; all options open for new curriculum committee, which should be composed of persons with a compelling alternate vision. If accepted; syllabus workshops, fine-tuning concentrations, development of communications, & implementation. Planning for assessment & more intentional course offerings.
Concentrations in Two Groups: Literature and Cultural Studies Writing, including Creative Writing
Major in EnglishA minimum of 12 courses beyond CTW, including 3 foundation classes: English 14, 15, 16. From the available electives: Choose at least one course before 1800, a senior seminar, and at least two concentrations. Recommended but not required: Choose one concentration from LCS and one from Writing.
Minor in English A minimum of 5 classes, including one foundation course At least one concentration
ENGL 14. Introduction to Literary History and Interpretation. Literature and our understanding of it are constantly changing. This course surveys canonical and marginalized works in cultural andhistorical context. It examines the way texts shapeand reference each other, and the consequences of technological change. Readings are chosen from literatures available in English in various genres and periods.
ENGL 15. Introduction to Cultural Studies and Literary Theory. Exploration of ways to think about the relationships among literature, culture, andsociety. Students will experiment with techniques of reading, interpretation, and intervention -- withparticular emphasis on those methods drawn from critical theory, studies in colonialism, cultural anthropology, feminism, semiotics, gay/lesbian studies, historicism, and psychoanalytic theory.
ENGL 16. Introduction to Writing and Digital Publication. Introduction to current scholarship and majorissues in writing studies, including digital literacy and publication. Readings will cover such topicsas: civic discourse and rhetorics of social justice; composition and multiliteracies; argumentationand logic; visual rhetoric and principles of design. Participants will publish their coursework in an electronic portfolio.
Remaining Concerns “Straw poll” on literary history requirement:25 Votes:9 @ 1 course before 180011 @More than 1 course before18005 @ Other Smaller concerns regarding particular diversityrequirements, an additional theory course, etc.
RecommendationThe Curriculum Committee recommends that we attempt to resolve these 2 remaining concerns about distribution requirements with recommendations to students, rather than requirements.
Ways to Recommend1. We might have many recommendations: aboutdiversity, periodization, genres, attention totheory, even taking more than the minimumnumber of courses (“The minimum is 12, butmany will take 15 or more. The registrar canfeature as many as 3 concentrations on yourtranscript.”)2. We might have all faculty communicateindividual recommendations on the website.(“Dont graduate without reading Milton!”)
Ways to Recommend3. In advising and meetings of majors & minors.4. On a department blog to which majors andminors can contribute.5. Each concentration will have groups of affiliatedfaculty and its own web page. The page, and thefaculty contributing to it can provide individualizeddetailed suggestions.6. A real or virtual bookshelf of must-read texts.
Choice: Recommending vs Requiring Advantages of requiring: more coherentexperience, easier to predict/ensure head count in some classes; more likely to succeed at particular goals (eg gre readiness/prep for certain grad programs).
Choice: Recommending vs Requiring Disadvantages of requiring: more coherent experience—ie, some students will experience as irrelevant or an imposition, because theparticular goals wont apply). Fewer electives for students=fewer non-survey courses can be offered. Less flexibility for individual students;advising can become about reqs and/or workingaround them, not student needs & development. Appeal of the major and minor drops.
Choice: Recommending vs Requiring As a choice, recommending is not just theabsence of requirements. Its a positive choice fostering good matches between faculty and student interests, placing individual student needs and the learning relationship at thecenter. Overall its potentially a very welcome culture choice.
Choice: Recommending vs Requiring 3. Survey: Are requirements necessary? Can advising address issues for individual students (Concentrations provide better matches.)4. Are required courses the only or best solution to all of our concerns—eg GRE readiness, grad school in LCS? What about other forms of support for students with those interests? 5. Annual assessments: If a recommendation scenario isnt working, we can always adjust and add requirements later.
Phyllis Brown, Remarks on Literature & Literary HistoryChanging away from a coverage model and:• From an undergraduate literature major to an English Studies major• From an understanding of literature as serving representational functions to serving socially formative functions.Question: What role should literary history play in what students are required to know? Should the writing of literary history be something they learn to do?
Terry Beers, Revised List of LCS Concentrations• American Literature and • Women, Sex, & Gender Culture • Literature of the Americas• Literary and Cultural Theory • Classical and Contemporary Rhetoric• British Literature and Culture • Medieval, Renaissance & Early Modern Studies• Literary History • Spirituality and Literature• Literature and Social Change • Literature and the Environment• Literature and Writing for Young Readers • World Literature• Race, Ethnicity and Culture • Genre• Cinema
Revised List of Writing ConcentrationsWriting in Digital EnvironmentsBusiness CommunicationAdvocacy, Public Discourse & Social ChangeEnglish Education and PedagogyScience and Technical CommunicationCreative WritingLiteracy and CommunityLegal and Medical CommunicationLanguage and Linguistics
Contact: Marc Bousquetpmbousquet (at) gmail.com