Consider the Crit: The Past

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In this series of posts I am looking at what we can learn from peer feedback practices in other disciplines. Andy Brown and Sharon Hart talked to me about the studio art critique.


Critique in the art classroom has a particular history I found quite interesting.  According to Andy, it emerged out of Modernism and the demise of the salon, with its list of rules for art.  As the definition expanded and art became more subjective, critique became both more complicated and more important.  Sharon’s use of “salon style” in our conversation also underscored for me the particular history of this discipline in relation to the salon.  Andy also explained how the current shape of our Foundations curriculum also emerged from the wider world of art through the Bauhaus movement.


Both indicated a deep knowledge of the extensive history of their fields and the ways in which that history persists in practices such as critique.  It got me thinking about the history of our own field.  In particular, I am wondering about the history of peer revision in composition.  I did some quick and dirty research and wasn’t able to find anything like a clear genealogy for the practice, though it’s clear that we’ve been doing it for some forty years or more.


I’m wondering about how history impacts practice and in particular I am wondering about the history of peer revision within our field.  It’s easy enough to tie it into some larger movements, particularly those that are social-epistemic, but if you should know more about the specific history I hope you will enlighten me in the comments.


Of course, not having so weighty a history may be of great benefit to us as writing teachers.  There is perhaps a way in which we are much more mobile in our understanding, practice, and use of peer revision as we are not so clearly restrained.  I’m not sure, so I welcome your thoughts.

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.