Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Not Sure What I Think

Like that's anything new, really, but I'm particularly unsure about this case. Trying to learn more, I (of course) Googled her, and found this piece from the Dartmouth college paper, as well as a note from the Gawker indicating that she has dropped her threatened lawsuit.

So, what I gather is that Dr. Priya Venkatesan has a PhD in literature and works to combine science and narrative in her work, which sounds fascinating. What I also gather is that she was hired to teach writing at Dartmouth as a postdoctoral fellow--not as a writing specialist. There is no mention anywhere of any particular training in composition pedagogy, or rhetoric, or anything that might suggest she was well prepared for this kind of teaching.

Which reminded me of a recent blog post by this inimitable observer of all things academia, regarding the use of post-docs to sidestep writing programs and/or labor concerns. While Dr. Venkatesan doesn't come off as someone I particularly want to work with, I have to wonder whether Dartmouth did her, the students, or the goals of writing courses any justice by hiring her to teach these courses.

I just don't know.

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