The notion that institutional discursive spaces are closed to many, particularly women and minorities, is not new to composition.
Increasingly, though, our field’s legitimate anxieties about the privatization of public life, corporate protections from public oversight, and limited forums for discussing public matters—so eloquently articulated in Nancy Welch’s —have generated a felt need for what Welch calls rhetoric from below: teaching alternative forms of public writing and activism that assert rhetorical space in a privatized and individualized society.
He argues that zines and the counterpublics they form offer a distinct mode of public address, and, because they are varied in tone, register, topic, and multiple voices, they are a site of democratic discourse and public participation.
Most importantly, the process of making zines allows students to forge their own publics and forums.
The students reported that although they were exposed to critical theory that allowed them to think and question the world, none of this work created the possibility for action.
Inion Literacy Reflective Essay
The students’ sophisticated understanding of activism and the available means for intervention came from extracurricular, self-sponsored activities.
The protesters also felt it was important to be heard because a string of conservative, university-sponsored speakers were normalizing pro-Israeli, anti-Islam, and anti-Palestinian messages.
Alexander and Jarratt found a profound disconnect between the “world of ideas” of the classroom and the “world of action” (539) in this incident.
The metaphor of a series of turns or shifts in a much larger turn allows us to view the developments in our pedagogies as both part of a trajectory that comes from situating writing and writers in socio-political and economic contexts and, necessarily, the subjective relationships writers have to these contexts in their current moment.
The latest turn toward community engagement and embodied activism, what Elenore Long and Paula Mathieu, among others, call the public turn, has moved writing outside of academic contexts and situated it locally and at the intersections of economics, race, gender, and class.