Essential, but General: The Rhetoric of First Year Composition Programs in Southern Public Universities

To what extent do we rhetoric and composition teachers and scholars adequately represent the importance of the First Year Composition programs at our universities? How do we describe ourselves, and how do we defend ourselves against claims that these classes aren't "essential" to the contemporary, workforce-focused university and its educational mission? When we create public documents that explain the courses, what are we valuing and how well are we rhetoricians persuading our audiences of students, parents, and policymakers that these classes are both necessary for a "general" education and part of a discipline with specific knowledges and skills?

Using Kenneth Burke's cluster analysis method, I will analyze the various representations of the FYC programs at public, 4-year universities in North and South Carolina. This presentation will open with a brief overview of the cluster analysis methodology, review my findings, and then provide analysis of the located terms and clusters, supported by the key texts in rhet/comp that defend the field and the FYC course (Sullivan, Crowley, and Faigley, primarily).

Author: Amy Lea Clemons