Events-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Upcoming Events

The English Department Student Advisory Committee (SAC) Book Drive

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 4 and Thursday, May 5, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: English Department Main Office, BH 259

Dissertation Defense: Ph.D. in Rhetoric Candidate Carolyn Commer

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 4, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location: The Swank Room, Baker Hall 255B

This is the final public oral examination for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric for Carolyn Commer. This event is free and open to the public.

Dissertation Title: “Shaping Education Policy in the Era of Neoliberal Reform: Lessons from the 2006 Spellings Commission”

This dissertation project investigates the rhetorical strategies educators use to uphold the civic values of higher education at a time when economic concerns dominate global policy. I focus on the controversy surrounding the U.S. Department of Education in 2006 when then-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings attempted major higher education reform, but failed to effectively engage educators and leaders in higher education. While previous scholarship on the rhetoric of education policy tends to focus on official policy documents from the Department of Education, my project shifts the object of analysis to the polysemous voices in policy debates. Using qualitative methods from rhetorical theory and argumentation studies, I analyze policy white papers, congressional hearings, newspaper articles, graduation speeches, and other public discourse from those in higher education who tried to shape public perceptions about the Spellings Commission, such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), Association of American Universities (AAU), and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
My analysis reveals key differences in the rhetorical strategies that policymakers and those in higher education use to engage in the debate. In Chapter 2, I analyze three dominant features of the Commission’s public discourse, including use of market metaphors and business analogies, objective stance-taking, and the exploitation of temporal and future-orientated discourse. I argue that these discursive features constitute a “neoliberal style” for policy-making, one that has shifted the grounds for public argumentation and types of arguments that can be voiced and heard in education policy cases today. In Chapters 3 and 4, I analyze responses from those in higher education and find two key rhetorical strategies used to rival the Commission’s neoliberal style: (1) a reframing of market-talk using a "civic frame," which draws attention to the importance of a civic-oriented education; and (2) a strategy of dissociation to break apart a false sense of agreement on highly-politicized issues like “accountability."

I conclude by arguing that the ability of those in higher education to engage effectively in policy cases relies on an understanding of these competing styles, the common argument topoi in education policy, and an awareness of the situational constraints of a neoliberal political style of policy-making. My project calls for greater attention to the rhetorical dimensions of policymaking and offers a critical, pragmatic perspective for educators to shape future education policy.

Professor Andreea Ritivoi, Chairperson
Professor David Kaufer
Professor Linda Flower

English Department Diploma Ceremony

Date and Time: Saturday, May 14, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Location: McConomy Auditorium, Cohon University Center

A reception will follow from 3-4:30 p.m in the Schatz Dining Room, Cohon University Center. Additional seating will be available in the General Motors Dining Room.

Pittsburgh Park Summer Reading Series Featuring Sharon Dilworth

Date and Time: Saturday, May 14, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Location: Arsenal Park, 209 40th St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Autumn House Press (in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy) is pleased to present the Pittsburgh Parks Summer Reading Series, a 5-month reading series held each month in a new park location. The series, supported in part by The Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation and The Pittsburgh Foundation, is a free-to-the-public reading meant to bring literature out into the neighborhood.

Kick off the first reading of the series at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville! Bring a blanket, bring a beverage and hear Toi Derricotte, Philip Terman, and CMU English Professor Sharon Dilworth read selections of poetry and prose. After the reading, enjoy the park and engage in lively discussions about the reading!

Learn more about the reading series.

Fall 2016 New Teacher Orientation

Date and Time: August 15-19, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Location: Swank Room, Baker Hall 255B

This is an invite-only event for First-Year Writing instructors.

Returning Teachers Re-orientation

Date and Time: Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 9:30am – 5:00pm

Location: Various Locations

The morning activities (9:30a-12:00p) will be in Steinberg Auditorium, and the afternoon activities (1:00p-5:00p) will be in Baker Hall 145C and the Swank Room, Baker Hall 255B. This orientation is an invite-only event for our returning First-Year Writing instructors.