Recommended Reading

Here are some titles we’ve been reading.  As always, check your local bookstore or have them order it.  If you’re reading these, we’d love to read and put your reviews on our site.

Activism

Activism and Rhetoric: Theories and Contexts for Political Engagement – Edited by Seth Kahn and Jonghwa Lee

“This volume examines the role of rhetoric in today’s culture of democratic activism. The volume takes on two of the most significant challenges currently facing contemporary rhetorical studies: (1) the contested meanings and practices of democracy and civic engagement in global context, and (2) the central role of rhetoric in democratic activist practices. In presenting a variety of political and rhetorical struggles in their specific contexts, editors Seth Kahn and JongHwa Lee allow contributors to reflect on and elaborate possibilities for both activist approaches to rhetorical studies, and rhetorical approaches to activist projects, facilitating better understanding the socio-political consequences of this work.”

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict – Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan

“For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents’ erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.”

Anti-Racist Pedagogy

I Am Not Your Negro – Collected Texts by James Baldwin

To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.

The Emperor Has No Clothes – Tema Okun

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know offers theoretical grounding and practical approaches for leaders and teachers interested in effectively addressing racism and other oppressive constructs. The book draws both on the author’s extensive experience teaching about race and racism in classroom and community settings and from the theory and practice of a wide range of educators, activists, and researchers committed to social justice.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America – Nancy Isenberg

“In her groundbreaking  bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg, co-author of The Problem of Democracy, takes on our comforting myths about equality, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.”

Critical Literacy

Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement – Linda Flowers

“Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement explores the critical practice of intercultural inquiry and rhetorical problem-solving that encourages urban writers and college mentors alike to take literate action. Author Linda Flower documents an innovative experiment in community literacy, the Community Literacy Center in Pittsburgh, and posits a powerful and distinctively rhetorical model of community engagement and pedagogy for both marginalized and privileged writers and speakers. In addition, she articulates a theory of local publics and explores the transformative potential of alternative discourses and counter-public performances.”  

Critical Pedagogy

Repurposing Composition: Feminist Interventions for a Neoliberal Age – Shari J. Stenberg

“In Repurposing Composition, Shari J. Stenberg responds to the increasing neoliberal discourse of academe through the feminist practice of repurposing. In doing so, she demonstrates how tactics informed by feminist praxis can repurpose current writing pedagogy, assessment, public engagement, and other dimensions of writing education.”

Education Reform

Composition in the Age of Austerity – Edited by Nancy Welch and Tony Scott

In the face of the gradual saturation of US public education by the logics of neoliberalism, educators often find themselves at a loss to respond, let alone resist. Through state defunding and many other “reforms” fueled by austerity politics, a majority of educators are becoming casual labor in US universities while those who hang onto secure employment are pressed to act as self-supporting entrepreneurs or do more with less. Focusing on the discipline of writing studies, this collection addresses the sense of crisis that many educators experience in this age of austerity.”

Paying the Price – Sara Goldrick-Rab

“If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?

Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.

Labor

Contingency, Exploitation, and Solidarity: Labor and Action in English Composition – Edited by Seth Kahn, William Lalicker, and Amy Lynch-Biniek

Composition has been a microcosm of the corporatization of higher education for thirty years, with adjuncts often handling the hard work of writing instruction. We’ve learned enough to know that change is needed. Influenced by the efforts of organizations such as New Faculty Majority, Faculty Forward, PrecariCorps, and national faculty unions, this collection highlights action, describing efforts that have improved adjunct working conditions in English departments. The editors categorize these efforts into five threads: strategies for self-advocacy; organizing within and across ranks; professionalizing in complex contexts; working for local changes to workload, pay, and material conditions; and protecting gains.”

Two-Year College

Economic Inequality, Neoliberalism, and the American Community College – Patrick Sullivan

This book aims to deepen public understanding of the community college and to challenge our longstanding reliance on a deficit model for defining this important, powerful, and transformative institution. Featuring a unique combination of data and research, Sullivan seeks to help redefine, update, and reshape public perception about community colleges. This book gives serious attention to student voices, and includes narratives written by community college students about their experiences attending college at an open admissions institution. Sullivan examines the history of the modern community college and the economic model that is driving much of the current discussion in higher education today. Sullivan argues that the community college has done much to promote social justice and economic equality in America since the founding of the modern community college in 1947 by the Truman Commission.

John Dewey and the Future of Community College Education – Clifford P. Harbour

“Today, community colleges enroll 40% of all undergraduates in the United States. In the years ahead, these institutions are expected to serve an even larger share of this student population. However, faced with increasing government pressure to significantly improve student completion rates, many community colleges will be forced to reconsider their traditional commitment to expand educational opportunity. Community colleges, therefore, are at a crossroads. Should they focus on improving student completion rates and divert resources from student recruitment programs? Should they improve completion rates by closing developmental studies programs and limiting enrollment to college-ready students? Or, can community colleges simultaneously expand educational opportunity and improve student completion?”