Class Synthesis, Redesigining Composition for Multilingual Realities, Jay Jordan

We opened the class discussing Jordan’s main project in his text. Together, we proposed that Jordan’s main project is for composition to broaden itself as a field and discipline in a way that understands, examines, and utilizes the multilingual and multicultural realities that make up college classrooms. Jordan discusses the flexibility and fluidity of language and interactions and negotiations between users to call scholars to research unexamined areas of linguistics, ESL, English, and composition, to provide a linguistically diverse composition pedagogy that understands and encourages the negotiations between multilingual and monolingual students. Ultimately, through revisiting and redefining commonly used terms within English classrooms and composition, Jordan’s work provides a framework for intercultural composition to rethink communication and knowledge production in a way that fosters communication, values multilingual speakers, and connects users.

The following are some of the pertinent terms discussed in class in terms of the text:

-Traditional composition: Acts as a gate-keeper (especially for multilingual students), perpetuates notions that diversity is a hindrance (or “disease”), needs redefined

-Comp: Represents Jordan’s ideas of compensation, competence, composition, and composing as related to multilingual presence within composition, seeks to join fields of linguistics, ESL, English(es), and composition in a more unified, complementary way

-Intercultural composition: Puts the previously mentioned fields within conversation (linguistics, ESL, composition)

-Users: A term to replace other commonly used terms for students that employ English (native vs. non-native, second, third, language learners, etc.) in a way that assumes ability and agency

We also discussed how Jordan bases many of his ideas on the theories of Kenneth Burke. He uses Burke to explore ideas of consubstantiality and how we construct open discourses through our use of language. However, our use of language is often seen as competitive in nature. In order to fully incorporate the multiple competencies of multilingual and multicultural students, it is necessary to allow students to see how discourse can be used to construct meaning through open discourses that rely more on identifying with others. In this way, students can see themselves as creators of knowledge through shared experiences through language.

This relates to Jordan’s ideas on writing “about” and “within” cultural experiences. We explore how it might look to write “within” a culture, as opposed to writing “about,” which runs the risk of othering the culture of study. We came to the conclusion that reflection and open discourse were necessary, but it may take a larger shift in thinking that would need to happen across curriculums. Perhaps the full implementation of Jordan’s ideas are utopian and unrealistic in a way that it does not address the many stakeholders involved in a composition course on micro and macro levels. Similarly, we discussed the difficulty of employing his work that entirely disrupts composition in a pedagogical way that motivates changes on an individual basis. However, we again stressed the importance and possible benefits of conversation that fosters learning from one another to generate meaning and knowledge.

For the following class, Dr. Campbell will revisit the text to explain Bahktin’s heteroglossia, dialogue, and Discourse.

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