Timothy Peeples

(Re) Writing the WPA: A spacial analysis of the organizational subject

Timothy Allan Peeples

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1999 pp: 237
  • Advisor: Porter, James E.
  • Source: DAI-A 60/11, p. 3994, May 2000
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Education, Administration (0514); Business Administration, Management (0454)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 304548310
  • ISBN: 0-599-53944-5
  • UMI Number: AAT 9952010


    • The study is a critical organizational analysis of the positions writing program administrators (WPAs) hold within academia. Critical of the relatively static positions role- and principle-based approaches commonly assume and construct for WPAs, the project turns to postmodern organizational and spatial studies to build a case-based visual methodology capable of analyzing the dynamic, fragmented positions most WPAs sense in their everyday worklives but have been unable to examine, theorize, and strategize. The chapters and case analyses are organized by the structure/social process dialectical (re)production of space theorized in postmodern organizational and spatial studies, with Chapters 3 and 4 (over)emphasizing structural analyses and Chapters 5 and 6 (over)emphasizing social process analyses. The cases represented cover typical WPA issues that cut across institutional types (e.g., administrative service and tenure, programmatic assessment, and the training and management of TAs and part-time faculty) and the varied programs WPAs direct (e.g., rhetoric and composition, professional writing, and writing across the curriculum). Together, the case analyses build an understanding of the ways WPA are (re)produced in/by, and the ways they (re)produce, their organizational subject positions. The analyses find that WPAs are dynamic and fragmented organizational subjects who are limited but not determined by their organizational positions. That is, from their organizational subject positions, WPAs can, and constantly do, (re)produce the space of their programs and their organizational positions within the academy.
    • Through a review of the case analyses in Chapters 3 –6, the final chapter presents three broad strategies for organizationally situated administrative practice. The strategies are directly informed by the structural analyses of rising post-bureaucratic organizational forms and critical management studies. The first argues that WPAs should construct, maintain, and utilize multiple structural and discursive spaces from which to act. The second urges WPAs to actively construct organizational spaces wherein writing program laborers gain the disciplinary and practical knowledge needed to effectively engage the knowledge-intensive work of writing instruction. The final strategy calls on WPAs to embrace program management as a critical process of co-inquiry through which both managers and managed (are willing to) change.