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Speaking Across the Divide

Photo Credit: “A house divided…” by tracy apps

It sure would be great if “literature” and “rhetoric and composition” weren’t viewed as completely separate spheres of activity. Once a month or so, I make the argument that literary studies and rhet/comp could do a much better job of actually talking to one another (this works in both directions). But that argument is very difficult to make when our professional organizations and departmental infrastructures insist on (benefit from?) antagonistic relationships.

All I know is that I have great interactions with my colleagues in literary studies. That is, at the level of individuals, it is possible to speak across this divide. So, when the MLA takes all the various flavors of rhetoric/writing/composition/literacy studies and lumps them into a single category (while drawing careful distinctions between other areas within the various subdomains of literary studies), I can only say this: Collaborate and talk to *individuals* (in your own department and elsewhere) and ignore the confusing actions of dinosaur organizations that are 30 years behind the times. You’ll find that those individual interactions are more fruitful than any attempt to get the dinosaur to budge.

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