Critical review of issue, like Lisa’s Audience article — may be exactly what’s needed, especially if the response of many in the field is “Well, of course, religion ought not to be excluded — as an identity alongside race, gender, age, culture, class, location, political views, etc, and as a massively crucial issue in the public sphere — so your thesis would be stating the obvious.” But it’s also pretty obvious that religion is often excluded from writing classrooms. It’s pretty obvious we ought to embrace blogs in the classroom. But they are on the horizon (well, very close on the horizon), and so need a model of how to understand / incorporate them, how to understand the need to incorporate them. Michael’s thesis gave us that. Religion is in the past, the thing we left behind. But it’s not left behind in the public sphere. And so perhaps we need a model for how to understand / re-incorporate it, how to reach back into the past and bring it back up to pace with public debates (I know that sentence doesn’t makes too much sense yet) and many writing students’ lives. Vail McGuire (diss 2007) gets into that issue and proposes (though I haven’t read this section yet) that we need to — I’d say like good literacy studies folks, like good ethnographers — look at what theology is telling us about rhetoric and even about composition as well as to look at what rhetoric and composition are telling theology.
I think there are two main reasons this issue is important: 1) the individual, the particular (students’ lives, students’ identities) and 2) the societal, the general (the massive influence of religion in the public sphere). No one can imagine composition leaving out — either consciously or unconsciously — students’ race or gender or economics from our classroom work, from our theory. But we very often leave out their religion. I know, I know — religion is — can be seen! — as anti-critical. But that’s a very one-sided, even old-fashioned view of religion. But even if that were always true, isn’t that all the more reason to engage it theoretically and practically? And isn’t everything uncritical at first!? Students aren’t critical of the issue of race or gender or politics or culture or economics until they learn to become critical. So why treat religion any differently? Why leave it off as the one thing that is irredeemable? un-make-critical-able?
Ooops, gotta go to class.