Tomorrow We Revise: November 2016

Dear Readers,

Tomorrow my writing class meets. I can’t wait. I teach literature too and love wrestling with how reading works in our world.

But it’s a week into worry for what might happen to this country and to my college and university, an intellectual home for so many students who are new to this nation. And I realize I want to do more than read, more, even than mobilize. I want to workshop: to remake the present state of things. I want to be in a writing class.

Writing is not like literature or Political Science or Economics. You can’t cover it in one semester or century, can’t survey a period, movement or ideology of composition. Writing classes serve no master.

Which isn’t to say that they are free of constraint. Writing courses are always conforming to or resisting mandated standards that seek to measure, contain, and control language.   Literacy is never neutral.

We should research the relationship between access to writing classes and access to power as many of my colleagues have done. And we must read what could be in store for public higher education in the coming years and for immigrants, women, students of color, multilingual students, queer and questioning students, working students—my students–in the next presidential administration.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s get to class and see how these same students can compose this country anew, stitch it up and together.

Writing classes can do this work because they are workshops in revision, in re-seeing our place in the world and reaching out to find others.  They are places to connect.

We connect with readers we know, readers we seek, and, sometimes, readers we misunderstand.  In a writing class, misunderstanding means beginning again, finding new ways to reach back and out to each other.

Writing class meets again tomorrow. It can’t come soon enough. I will see my readers again. And they will see me.

And if we don’t connect tomorrow, we’ll try next week. And the week after and the one after that. Tomorrow we revise.

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About Jessica Yood

I am an Associate Professor of English at Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY). Composition and Rhetoric is my primary field and research into the history and emerging role of writing in our contemporary culture continues to broaden my definition of this discipline. Work for my book project takes me into the history of literary criticism in America, complexity theories, the culture wars and the intellectual crises of the 1990s, and the enduring complexity of first-year writing and writers.
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