David Bartholomae raises some interesting points in “Inventing the University” that I find both intriguing and problematic. Basically, a student is aware that there is an academic discourse, and students “…have to learn to write what I would write or to offer up some approximation of that discourse” (8). Problems arise when the student tries to be an expert while knowing that the teacher does know more than the student, “The student, in effect, has to assume privilege without having any” (11). Students are forced to poorly mimic the instructors imposed discourse.

Through a series of examples, Bartholomae points out how the successful student is one that can claim some form of “insider” knowledge which places the student within a discourse, but leaves the student the ability to challenge the “naive” common knowledge of that discourse, “The writer continually audits and pushes against a language that would rather render him ‘like everyone else’ and mimics the language and interpretive systems of the privilege community. Bartholomae ends by stressing how eventually these student writers will be able to, hopefully, “take on the role of the privilege[d]” discourse. While I realize this to be important and while this is what I do in my classroom (tell my students that they are entering into an academic discourse, and to not worry so much if they don’t really understand what that means or how to maneuver within this discourse because they eventually will “get it”), I wonder about the students who just want a better job and don’t want to join an academic discourse community.

Especially after reading this critical piece on Bartholomae’s essay: http://www.jacweb.org/Archived_volumes/Text_articles/V11_I2_Boyd.htm.

I am also always concerned with being someone who promotes the current dominant structures of our culture that since I am so entrenched, I can’t see a better way out: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/marxism/modules/althusserISAsmainframe.html

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