Thursday, March 29, 2012

This August I am moving to Indiana to attend Purdue's Composition and Rhetoric program. It will be about two and a half years of course work followed by a dissertation that seems to take most a year and a half, possibly two. If all goes well, I'll end up with a PhD. All the fees are waived plus a stipend and health insurance provided I teach one class a semester, which of course I will, beginning this August. This is all good and exciting news, old news if I've spoken to you in person anytime in the last couple months, but serious life changes await and I've been doing a lot of thinking, chatting, moving towards planning, about what these next four months are going to look like.

As much complaining as I've done about my employer in the last five years, I am so ready, in part because of the trial by failure after failure my hair is turning white rapidly, to formally study Rhetoric and Composition. A study of what writing is, how it can be taught, a history and sociology of the written word, along side philosophy and theory. There's formal rhetoric, ancient Greeks and Aristotle, what we like to think western civilization is based on, there's rhetorics of particular groups of people, say the rhetoric of the medical profession or the rhetoric of twitter, and there's also more philosophical and psychological questions about how we identify with the written word, and how we come to ideas through articulation. This is what I'm most interested in, a kind of applied philosophy in the context of the classroom. And there's another part about the actual nuts and bolts of classroom application, so it's also a kind of an education degree.

I might be wrong about some of this, but that's what I understand about "Rhet/Comp." Teaching writing for six plus years has gotten me pretty curious about what exactly I've been doing this entire time. Teaching writing, along with ESL and pronunciation, alongside my own writing, poetry and whatnot (this blog qualifies as "whatnot") has lead to many many questions about what actually works and why. I'd like to be able to not just teach and write, but to talk about what it all means in a context outside of my own experience. Plus I'd like to get paid three to four times what I'm making currently. Which leads me back to complaining about the insanely dysfunctional bureaucracy that is my employer. I can do that now that I'm leaving. But I won't. Freedom!