What Matters Who Writes? What Matters Who Responds?

Andrea Lunsford, Rebecca Rickly, Michael Salvo, and Susan West

I have already suggested that the way we teach writing and reading seem to me almost universally to assume the "author construct" and concomitant notions of private ownership of knowledge, texts, intellectual property. These notions, moreover, have for too long gone unexamined by those of us who are teaching reading and writing, and this failure may well be a large part of the resistance to collaborative and collective practices on the part of many traditional teachers as well as for the devastating trivialization of collaboration that we see taking place in the pages of our journals as well as in the media and workforce. As I've said more than once, when everyone from General Motors and Turner News Network to the US Air Force starts to issue paeans to the virtues of collaboration and teamwork, I become deeply suspicious of just what is meant by those terms. As I suggested earlier, what I believe is most often meant is just another way of doing business as usual, of substituting the group for the traditional "author" or, even more frequently, of viewing the group merely as an aggregate of autonomous individuals. But as the work of many poststructuralists, feminists, and, particularly, scholars in the African and African American Tradition can tell us, there are many other ways of locating "authorship" and of invoking and enacting collaborative practices—ways that are not dependent on the notion of an originary uniquely-creative author/genius. For complex political, economic, and ideological reasons, we have for the last 300 years or so focused the camera of ownership and authority in on the single figure—usually European, usually white, usually male—on Wordsworth, let's say. It doesn't take much of a leap of imagination, however, to imagine relinquishing the close-up and pulling the camera back into a wide-angle shot that would reveal Wordsworth in a rich network of others, like his sister Dorothy and the circle of friends with whom he constantly talked and wrote. Nor would it take much more to embed that wide-angle shot in a fully-realized historical/contextual setting.
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Postmodern(un)grounding * Collaboration * Copy(w)right/Ownership * Possible Futures

Title Page * Conclusions