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The Mla Ad Hoc Committee's Agenda

By Author: kitty
Total Articles: 191

A key part of the MLA Ad Hoc Committee's agenda for developing students' translingual and transcultural competence calls for creating interdisciplinary, team-taught courses, and English scholars are well positioned to contribute to this effort. These courses, the Committee explains, would link English-language courses and credit-bearing discussion modules that together explore topics such as language acquisition theory, various popular and professional texts from the linguistic community, and the dominant cultural narratives shaped by these texts (Foreign 239). Byrnes has criticized the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on this point, arguing that "[interdisciplinary work will downplay the role of language and language acquisition, precisely because this is Links Of London Bracelets not the major interest of colleagues in history or art or philosophy or political science, or gender or film studies, who might contribute to this kind of interdisciplinary enterprise".

Byrnes's concern is significant, but this investment in developing multiple literacies is one that Byrnes and the Ad Hoc Committee share with English scholars, particularly those in rhetoric and composition studies. Many compositionists have begun to design vertical curricula that give students opportunities to practice writing in a variety of academic and public settings, with the aim of acquiring both advanced linguistic competencies in English and "a deep understanding of rhetorical situatedness" (Miles et al. 508). Given their commitment to teaching students both to produce texts and to gain meta-level knowledge of a language, English scholars can forge important pedagogical collaborations with foreign language scholars toward developing students' advanced literacies across linguistic and cultural contexts. Rhetoric and composition scholars could make a valuable contribution to team-teaching efforts, for example, by designing courses in which students learn about the rhetorical traditions of the language community that they are studying and also practice composing texts for multiple writing situations. These courses linking foreign languages and rhetorical education could help students learn, in David Fleming's words, what "speakers, writers, readers, and listeners need to know in order to 'become rhetorical'" within a particular linguistic and cultural community. Working with colleagues in foreign language departments, composition scholars could develop an upper-division sequence of rhetoric and writing courses through which students learn how the cultural, political, and social resources of a linguistic community give shape to what Fleming calls the "argumentative form" of that group's public texts.

By performing various writing exercises in the target language, students also would sharpen their abilities to adapt the "typical moves" in the culture's "civil repertoire" to their own rhetorical purposes, all while reflecting on how their appropriation of these moves comes from within their own cultural and linguistic positioning as an "outsider." Such an interdisciplinary sequence of courses, a sequence pairing foreign language reading and writing with the study of cultural rhetorics and rhetorical theories, could deepen students' transcultural and translingual competence, as they gain advanced language literacies while also understanding how a particular language group's members reproduce their worldviews through rhetorical practice. Expanding our vision of rhetorical education in this way to include engagement with foreign language education can Links Of London Necklaces be a productive move to make as English scholars attempt to broaden the notion of "civic engagement" that a national language policy would foster.

A team taught, multilingual approach to rhetorical education would help students develop the linguistic and rhetorical skills necessary to communicate across multiple language and cultural groups. Equally as important, rhetorically based language pedagogy can heighten students' appreciation of language as a lens that shapes how people see the world and interpret experiences. The ends of such rhetorical education do not become those of acquiring language for cultural and linguistic mastery over "enemies" and "others" mastery that exacerbates global conflict. Instead, a multilingual approach to rhetorical education can foster students' commitment to cross language practices that foster deeper understanding and respect for cultural knowledge and worldviews.

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