English, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in Beyond English, Inc., eds. David Downing, Claude Mark Hurlbert, and Paula J. Mathieu (Portsmouth, NH: BoyntonCook, 2002), pp. 139–150. Copyright © 2002 Greenwood Heinemann Publishing. Used by permission.


Universities are increasingly pressured to model themselves after corporations. This chapter represents one effort to identify pressures that were formative in the work of a group of faculty working to develop a concentration in “Writing and Rhetoric” as part of a larger departmental initiative to revise the undergraduate major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UN-L). By examining some of the conversations associated with the process of creating the concen tration, this microethnography suggests that while the formation of curriculum can be read in terms of corporate influences, faculty can and do intervene in administrative structures that press toward increasing corporatization. While it is true that corporate pressures represent the effects of one very powerful discourse of value and collective identity in contemporary American culture, postsecondary curricular reform can be usefully understood as a site of multiple discourses of value and identity that faculty negotiate in the process of making curricula. The point of this essay is not to provide a model curriculum, but to show how reflecting on group processes can build a collective consciousness about the multiple pressures on curriculum in one’s own institution and make visible opportunities for intervening, rhetorically, in the press toward corporate management of teaching and learning.