Teacher Response to Homework #2: Theory Wars, Take 1000

Grades on Blackboard, as per the norm.

You understand, but you do not yet comprehend

It may seem as though I am presenting TPC in this class as more of a battlefield than an academic field. I am satisfied from what I’ve seen in this module thus far that you all are very prepared for understanding key TPC theories, but understanding is only the first step.

The problem with TPC that makes it such a contested discipline is lack of regularity and too much regularity. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Too much regularity: The theories you’ve learned about in this module are some of the main theories of TPC that scholars in the field reference over and over again. They are the theories, stated or unstated, that gird our discipline.

Lack of regularity: At the same time, these theories are not consistently applied. They shift and move constantly. There is very little shared understanding as to how they are applied, especially when writing for different venues (those more geared towards the academy vs. those most geared toward industry).

Other fields usually have one or the other of these problems. The social sciences get accused all the time of being too regularized, too exclusive. But at least they have shared methods that anyone can use.

In most humanities disciplines, there are no methods, by which I mean “shared understandings of how to produce valid, repeatable knowledge.” I’m thinking of art, philosophy, literary studies, the disciplines where subjectivity is high.

TPC is thus a schizophrenic discipline, and this is a huge problem for the growth of our field. A problem new scholars will need to solve ;-).

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