What are *your* politics?

Nick Carbone (nickc@MARLBORO.EDU)
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 19:04:17 -0400

The discussion of what language a theory dresses in has come to the
observation that any theory carries a political point of view. Which
makes me wonder. We all have political points of view, we all ascribe to
some theory of composition, whether for pedagogy or as a way of reading
or as, well, a matter of theoretical interest.

So I wonder...

Do you study a theoretical tradition because it confirms your politics?

Did you find that exposure to a theory altered your politics?

Has theory altered your teaching?

Has teaching altered your politics?

Is the theory you're inspired by lived out in your classroom?

Is it possible to appreciate a theoretical point of view, or line of
reasoning, even though you find the politics implied or decreed by the
theory unreasonable?

Do you teach politically? Are your politics known to your students and do
you relate those to how you discuss what writing is, what discourse
conventions are, how grading usually operates, what kind of language is

Is your course taught more with an eye to what the instituition you teach
in imagines its purpose is, perhaps even mandates what the course's
mission is, and pays you based on the assumption that you accept that
mandate? Do you accept either the assumption and/or mandate--say to teach
students to write academic essays, or do you reject it, or subvert it?

Do you feel guilty sometimes? Perhaps for not following what the
institution assumes? Or perhaps for not being able to follow what you
think should be done, or think should be taught?

Do you think sometimes that it might be wrong to influence students with
your politics, or your theory?

Nick Carbone, Writing Instructor
Marlboro College
Marlboro, VT 05344