Brodkey, et al, 1990 English 306 Syllabus

English 306, "Writing About Difference." 1990 Syllabus, Brodkey, et al.
[Michael Day's scan of his original copy]

This link leads to a scanned version of the 1990 proposed syllabus for a revised version of English 306, "the one-semester, first-year, required writing course for undergraduates" (Brodkey 236) at the University of Texas-Austin. 

Almost 30 years later (April 2018), many may wonder why we chose to include this artifact in CompPile's archives. The events that led to and proceeded from the controversy surrounding this seemingly standard process have become iconic in the history of composition teaching. What happened to Brodkey's academic course revision now stands for the way politics outside the academy can, with little warning, enter inside and take over. The undermining of her English 306 course revision in Austin deserves to be remembered, considered, and reconsidered, in part because it can happen anywhere at any time. 

Perhaps unfortunately, we use "Brodkey" and "Texas" as shorthand for a story that includes university administrators, graduate students, faculty members, professional organizations, and local and national media outlets. Although Linda Brodkey was and is widely recognized and respected as a scholar and teacher, her name is associated with this event because of the careful and deliberate ways she has published accounts and clarifications that have helped us understand the full story in its fullest context. 

The syllabus will be most valuable when readers consider it in its fuller historical context. To learn more about that context, we recommend the following resources:

  • Brodkey, Linda. (1994). Making a federal case out of difference: The politics of pedagogy, publicity, and postponement. In Clifford, John; John Schilb (Eds.), Writing theory and critical theory; New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America.
    • Brodkey includes detailed list of items published about the controversy.

With his scan of the syllabus, Michael Day provided this list of items published at the time of the controversy:

  • Brodkey, Linda, and Shelli Fowler.  “What Happened to English 306.” Beyond PC: Towards a Politics of Understanding. Patricia Aufderheide, ed. Gray Wolf Press, 1992 (113-117).
  • Mangan, Katherine S. “Entire Writing-Course Panel Quits at U. of Texas.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 13, 1991. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Entire-Writing-Course-Panel/89236
  • Mangan, Katherine S. “U. of Texas’s Postponement of Controversial Writing Course Kindles Debate Over Role of Outsiders in Academic Policy.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 20, 1991. P. A15 and following. 
  • Hairston, Maxine. “Required Writing Classes Should Not Focus on Politically Charged Issues.” Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 23, 1991. B1-2.

Doug Hesse offered these sources via WPA-L:

This  controversy has been a repeat topic on WPA-L, the discussion listserv for Council of Writing Program Administrators.


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