Ideological intersections: Interrogating culture and pedagogy in telecourses that teach American literature and composition
Author(s)Accetta, Randolph Alan
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Language, Rhetoric and Composition.
Education, Technology of.
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AbstractIn Ideological Intersections: The Cultural Work and Practical Implications of American Literature and Composition Telecourses, I draw on both my own experience developing, producing, and teaching two composition telecourses and an analysis of three nationally-produced and distributed telecourses in order to explain the benefits and disadvantages of using one-way, non-interactive telecourses to teach English studies courses. The Introduction locates the use of educational technologies within the current academic labor crisis in the Humanities. Chapter 1 situates the telecourse within the theoretical and pedagogical issues that confront teachers of writing, Chapter 2 describes in detail the viewing experience and the logistics of three composition telecourses, and Chapter 3 focuses on two of the leading, nationally distributed literature telecourses. The first sections of Chapter 4 demonstrate that telecourses have proved to be an accessible educational opportunity for students who would otherwise not attend school, an opportunity for faculty to gain new skills, and an additional revenue source for institutions. However, there are three primary disadvantages: (1) students have little opportunity for interaction, (2) telecourses have a markedly high drop-out rate; and (3) the course material is markedly conservative. The latter sections of Chapter 4 present technological solutions to the problem of interactivity, with the warning that such computerized teaching methods may function as a repressive surveillance system that inappropriately regulates faculty members and students. Chapter 5 demonstrates that the telecourses function as an ideological apparatus that transmits American culture. As such, the televised material reifies the rhetoric of the American melting pot, perpetuating the myth of standardized Americans who are happily inculcated into the educational and occupational systems of mainstream America, without acknowledging the complications or difficulties faced by such characters in real life. Moreover, the televised material reproduces the rhetoric of American individualism, offering students a false vision of a future of unbound glories in order to train them in occupational and functional literacy at the expense of critical, oppositional thinking. The Epilogue returns to the disturbing implications for academic labor, and argues that classroom teachers may no longer be necessary if institutions can disseminate information with the help of new technologies and simply hire inexpensive teachers to be responsible for logistics and assessment.