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From McComisky, Bruce. English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s). Ed.

Bruce McComiskey. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006.


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The dual processes of specialization and expansion have transformed English
studies into a contact zone of epic proportions. A contact zone is a space of
conflict in which different groups come into contact, usually under conditions of
inequality and coercion (Pratt, Arts 34). For over a century now, English
departments have been a space of conflict within which ideological and material
struggles among the disciplines comprised by English studies curriculum has been
the most contested space within the administrative structure of English
departments. We may speak all we want about fusion and integration, but until
the actual curriculum changesuntil the path through which English studies
students pass is made representative of the discipline as a wholeEnglish studies
will remain mired in colonializing discourses that suppress and marginalize crucial
enterprises. How can this new definition of English studies translate into
curriculum? This is a question that must not be overlooked for some very
important reasons.
Graff highlights the politics of curriculum design: *T+he curriculum is the major
form of representation through which academic departments identify themselves
to the world (or fail to do so) (Is There 12). And Kress points out the ethics of
curriculum:
A curriculum is a design for a future social subject, and via that envisioned subject
a design for a future society. That is, the curriculum puts forward knowledges,
skills, meanings, values in the present which will be telling in the lives of those
who experience the curriculum, ten or twenty years later. Forms of pedagogy
experienced by children now in school suggest to them forms of social relations
which they are encouraged to adopt, adapt, modify and treat as models. The
curriculum, and its associated pedagogy, puts forward a set of cultural, linguistic
and social resources which students have available as resources for their own
transformation, in relation to which (among others) students constantly
construct, reconstruct and transform their subjectivity. (Representational 16)
If it is the goal of the new English studies to prepare students for a full and
meaningful existence both inside and outside of the classroom, and if we envision
a world where literature is one of many kinds of texts with which our students will
have to contend, then some curriculum reform is necessary, and I believe that
integration is the best model for that reform. (45-46)