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Williamson RA. What's in a name? Discipline nomenclature as rhetorical construct. 2010.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/7845
What's in a name? Discipline nomenclature as rhetorical construct
The title and themes of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) conference for 2010 – Strange bedfellows or perfect partners – the role of literary studies in creative writing programs – imply both uneasy and harmonious relationships between two pedagogic territories that are independent yet destined to co-exist. Also suggested by the conference is that those who claim citizenship of literary studies and creative writing are involved in ongoing processes in which boundaries are drawn and decisions taken about why, how and when paths between the two territories should be opened up and travelled. Such processes take many forms and respond to many needs, both practical and rhetorical, to define areas of teaching and scholarship. Common to all of them, however, is the adoption, use and, in some cases, adaptation of discipline nomenclature. This paper explores discipline nomenclature as a rhetorical construct and, in so doing, seeks to inform the 'dialogue between writing and literary studies' that is an intended outcome of the conference. Moving beyond populist and pejorative views of rhetoric, the paper draws on rhetorical theory to demonstrate the ways in which such titles as 'creative writing' and 'literary studies' are used to denote specialised fields in response to particular circumstances, but are also malleable constructs. By applying the work of theorist Richard Weaver, the paper also discusses the use in discipline titles of 'ultimate terms', or 'god terms', to connote fields of undeniable status within the academy, as opposed to those that might be perceived as being more prosaic. The paper also draws attention to problems inherent in the use of 'ultimate terms'. Consideration of the rhetorical implications of 'creative writing' and 'literary studies', and cognate titles, is timely. Australia is moving to a deregulated system of higher education and the adoption of national curricula for English in primary and secondary schools, both of which prompt reflection on the positioning of writing as a discrete pedagogy and field of scholarship. In addition, the preparation of the AAWP's written history, itself an important rhetorical artefact for the discipline of writing in this country, prompts reflection on the ways in which the association and its members define and promote their discipline.
The Strange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners Papers: the refereed proceedings of the 15th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (2010) -- isbn:9780980757330 -- AAWP: Australasian Association of Writing Programs -- 2010
The 15th Annual Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 25th - 27th November, 2010