Composition in the Age of Austerity

edited by Nancy Welch and Tony Scott

Paperback Price $27.95
Ebook Price $21.95

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“Composition in the Age of Austerity is a book that is needed now. The problems we compositionists face are myriad, and economic ‘austerity’ measures are taking their toll. To put it simply: writing teachers need help. This book is an important attempt to offer it."
—Claude M. Hurlbert, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

"[A]n insightful essay collection on neoliberalism and its intersections with composition—both the discipline and the business of the discipline. One of the many strengths of Composition in the Age of Austerity is the portrait the essays create of the rhetorics of neoliberalism and austerity.​ . . . I see this collection as a window into the need for solidarity—solidarity with basic writing instructors, high school teachers, graduate students, and perhaps most significantly, with and between four- and two-year university and college educators.​"​

Composition Studies

"This book moved me in ways that scholarship too infrequently does. . . . faculty can benefit not only from reflecting on the strategies and analyses of the collection’s authors, but from the emotional strength that can be taken from shared struggle and endeavor."

Composition Forum

"[L]ays bare the messiness and magnitude of challenges awaiting the field. There are no easy answers to composition’ s current 'crisis' and Welch and Scott are sympathetic to the difficulties of rising to the challenge of resisting further ethical compromise and the hard work of undoing the uneasy realpolitik of “adjunctification”. . . . should be required reading of every composition colloquium and WPA seminar."

Rhetoric Review

"[This] collection inspires and furthers related discussions among graduate and undergraduate students, tenure and non-tenure track faculty, community leaders, legislators, and parents, all of whom have a vested interest in quality instruction and can learn from the voices here. . . . Welch and Scott have made a solid contribution to the field by addressing a range of questions from the political to the theoretical to the very practical."
Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy


In the face of the gradual saturation of US public education by the logics of neoliberalism, educators often find themselves at a loss to respond, let alone resist. Through state defunding and many other “reforms” fueled by austerity politics, a majority of educators are becoming casual labor in US universities while those who hang onto secure employment are pressed to act as self-supporting entrepreneurs or do more with less. Focusing on the discipline of writing studies, this collection addresses the sense of crisis that many educators experience in this age of austerity.

The chapters in this book chronicle how neoliberal political economy shapes writing assessments, curricula, teacher agency, program administration, and funding distribution. Contributors also focus on how neoliberal political economy dictates the direction of scholarship, because the economic and political agenda shaping the terms of work, the methods of delivery, and the ways of valuing and assessing writing also shape the primary concerns and directions of scholarship.

Composition in the Age of Austerity offers critical accounts of how the restructuring of higher education is shaping the daily realities of composition programs. The book documents the effects and implications of the current restructuring, examines how cherished rhetorical ideals actually leave the field unprepared to respond effectively to defunding and corporatizing trends, and establishes points of departure for collective response.


Nancy Welch is professor of English at the University of Vermont, where she helped to found the faculty union and is active in region-wide labor solidarity. Among her books are Living Room: Teaching Public Writing in a Privatized World and The Road from Prosperity: Stories.

Tony Scott is associate professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University where he directs the writing program. He is the author of Dangerous Writing: Understanding the Political Economy of Composition and coeditor of Tenured Bosses and Disposable Teachers.

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  • Paperback Price: $27.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-444-7
  • Ebook Price: $21.95
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-445-4
  • Publication Month: April
  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Pages: 240
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Nancy Welch and Tony Scott
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-444-7
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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