I finished Julie Lindquist’s excellent A Place to Stand: Politics and Persuasion in a Working-Class Bar tonight, and as with my past several posts about the book, it’s given me considerable food for thought. Here’s my angle: I think that composition, as a discipline, tends to mostly avoid discussions involving economics when it comes to students — except when we talk about class. And then, even when composition talks about class, we talk about it in a variety of really strange ways that often seem to make every effort to avoid talking about students as economic beings, especially within the context of the classroom, so that the implication is that — while we can talk about “working-class academics” and the exploitation of academic laborers — students cannot ever be economic beings. I still don’t know how or why this is, but what made it particularly visible to me was Charlie Moran’s work on the intersection of computers and economic inequality — and the funny thing is, while that was my starting-point, I’m also looking towards computers and economics as a possible interesting ending-point, with the ways that the reproducibility of information (which is something that happens in a composition classroom, digital or otherwise) is now making our society re-think fundamental assumptions about economic scarcity. And economic scarcity is deeply connected to class inequality.
So one thing I need to work on is mapping the different ways in which composition as a discipline represents class inequality. Julie Lindquist’s work is particularly helpful to me in this regard, partly because of its clarity and sophistication, but also because she seems to have very firm and well-defined ideas about what causes class — or at least what causes the class of those within the working class.