Archive of JCRC Documents

Rhetoric Society of America Conference 2010 Workshop Proposal 

Eloquentia Perfecta meets the Twenty-First Century: Workshop on Revisiting and Rethinking the Teaching of the Language Arts in Jesuit Institutions
The educational traditions of the Jesuits, which began nearly 500 years ago, have centered their curriculum on the teaching and practice of rhetoric, which has alternately been seen as powerful or obsolete, liberating or manipulative.

How can writing faculty and WPAs at Jesuit institutions call on the most vital aspects of those extended traditions, while negotiating current approaches and practices from composition studies, and the current scene of Jesuit education and higher education more broadly?  

How might we undertake the teaching of writing, reading, and speaking in ways which honor both the mission and goals of Jesuit colleges and universities and incorporate the dynamic changes in academic, disciplinary, and popular culture and the diverse technologies of communication and composition?  This workshop will explore what it might mean to reimagine the aim of eloquence, the central aim of a liberal arts education for hundreds of years.  
Speaker 1 – “Magis, copia, theo-rhetoric: How rhetoric shaped Jesuit theology, mission, education, and practice.”
Topic One: “Missions, Aims, and Goals of Writing Programs at Jesuit Schools.” Three groups facilitated by three speakers.
Discussion Questions
•       How Jesuit are the Programs? Speaker 2.
•       How writing programs call on general or specific Jesuit educational principles and constructs (the Ratio Studiorum, eloquentia perfecta, cura personalis. Magis, men and women for others, Ignatian pedagogy, the Spiritual Exercises)? Speaker 3.
•       How might programmatic structures, assessment plans, and plagiarism statements reflect Jesuit educational traditions and principles? Speaker 4.
Topic Two: “Writing at/as the Core: Recalling Rhetoric and Writing from the Jesuit, Humanist Tradition.” Three groups facilitated by three speakers.
•       Since Jesuit schools often have large, traditional Core Curricula (rather than General Education distributions) writing courses often figure importantly in Core Programs. Speaker 5.
•       What do writing programs look like in the context of a Jesuit core curriculum? Speaker 6.
•       What might a Jesuit core curriculum & First year composition, First year seminars, and First year experience informed by a Jesuit core look like? Speaker 7.

Rhetoric Society of America Institute 2007
Workshop Proposal - The Beginning of JCRC

Teaching Rhetoric and Composition in the Jesuit Tradition
Submitted by
Peggy O’Neill and Cinthia Gannett, Loyola College

Participants in this workshop will focus on three goals:
1) learning about the role of  rhetoric in the history of Jesuit education, 
2) examining the role of rhetoric in contemporary Jesuit colleges and universities, and
3) creating an action plan/proposal for promoting rhetoric and composition in  Jesuit education.

The educational tradition of the Society of Jesus, founded in 1540, is deeply rooted in rhetoric. Jesuits themselves received a thorough grounding in rhetoric, gaining mastery in both theory and practice. The Jesuits also made this a core feature in their educational institutions. The original Jesuit approach to education, as outlined in the Ratio studiorum, required the study of Latin and Greek grammar and literature with the ultimate goal of “eloquence” for the students. While contemporary Jesuit institutions no longer follow the rigorous, classical approach to education of the past, this history no doubt has had an influence on how rhetoric and writing instruction are defined and positioned within the 28 American colleges and universities affiliated with the Society of Jesus. By understanding more of the history, we will be better positioned to effectively promote the theory and practice of rhetoric in the curricula of the 21st century. More specifically, we will work on 1) discovering where “rhetoric” is in our curricula 2) how we can recenter it 3) and how we can create institutional support for it.

Through the workshop, participants will engage in inquiry—of the past and present, of their own institutions, across institutions. By the end of the workshop, the goal is to have a proposal drafted, the specifics of which would grow out of the workshops, but which could be an edited collection and/or an organization of rhetoric and writing faculty at Jesuit colleges and universities.

To achieve these objectives, the workshop will consist of the dissemination and critical discussion of the history of rhetoric in Jesuit education as it is manifested in contemporary institutions.

Tentative Sessions Schedule
Day 1 Morning
History of Rhetoric in Jesuit Education
(Facilitators: Vince Casaregola, St. Louis University
Tom Pace &  Carin Ruff, John Carroll University)
This session will examine the role Jesuit education played in the teaching of rhetoric in early modern England.  Specifically, this session will consider the little-studied De imitatione rhetorica tractatus (Tract on Rhetorical Imitation), by the sixteenth-century Jesuit St. Edmund Campion. We will examine Campion’s text within the broader context of the Ratio Studiorum and rhetorical education in early modern England.
Day 1 Afternoon Session
Contemporary Jesuit Education: Implications for Rhetoric and Composition
Learning about the way Jesuit education has been envisioned in our institutions.  
(Facilitators: Ann Green & Tom Brennan, St. Joseph’s University)
Presenters will share some methods they have used to incorporate Jesuit values and visions into their writing classes at one Jesuit institution. The session will include discussion about the promises and pitfalls of these practices and allow participants to think about how they can effectively include Jesuit themes into their own writing program or courses.

Day 2 Morning Session
Organizing to Promote Rhetoric and Composition in Jesuit Colleges & Universities
Part I: Programmatic strategies within institutions/across institutions
(Facilitators: KJ Peters, Loyola University Marymount)
Locating and anchoring rhetoric within writing programs, undergraduate curriculum, and even graduate seminars can be a significant challenge.  Ideological trends, administrative fashions, and outside interests can have the affect of displacing the study of rhetoric. Participants will examine the displacement of rhetoric and consider atypical ways of promoting all aspects of rhetorical study within Jesuit Colleges & Universities.

Day 2 Afternoon Session
Organizing to Promote Rhetoric and Composition in Jesuit Colleges & Universities
Part II: Research and writing about our own institutions/ across institutions
(Facilitators: Cinthia Gannett, Loyola College in Maryland)
The facilitator will share strategies and samples of how to do action research in writing  programs and institutions that will help initiate and explore how rhetoric and the Jesuit tradition can be more explicitly included in our programs. Participants will share their own experiences and brainstorm ways to more effectively use our research to promote the rhetorical tradition associated with Jesuit education.

Day 3 Morning
Recentering Rhetoric in contemporary Jesuit Education : An Action Plan
(Facilitators: Peggy O’Neill and Cinthia Gannett, Loyola College of Maryland
Participants will work on drafting an action plan. Details will depend on previous work but could include a call for papers for an edited collection and/or a proposal for formalizing rhetoric and composition professionals at Jesuit institutions.


May 27-29, 2005
Rhetoric Society of America Workshop
Teaching Rhetoric and Composition in the Jesuit Tradition

Goal for Sunday morning: Creating an action plan/proposal for promoting rhetoric and composition in  Jesuit education

1. Do we want to formalize our group through AJCU? If so, how can we get more involvement from other Jesuit campuses?

2. What are our venues for scholarly inquiry?
RSA panel proposal for conference
Edited collection on rhetoric and/at/in Jesuit tradition
A Jesuit rhetoric conference (formal presentations of research)
Other ideas?

3. How can we achieve these scholarly goals?
Scholarly inquiry
Collaborating across disciplines/institutions/departments
Grant proposals (Jesuit, institutional, others)

B. Small groups (1 hr)
Define a list of scholarly questions for inquiry (discipline and/or locally focused)
Devise a means of answering them (action plan)
Begin working on draft of action plan

C. Large group discussion: Small groups share their written plans with large group

Discuss the viability of plans/ suggest changes (1 hr)

D. Where do we go from here?
Individuals take on responsibilities
 What are you going to commit to?

Tensions identified/ associated with teaching, research & administering in Jesuit institutions

• the vita activa and vita contempletiva
• professional education and liberal arts education
• secular/academic and the sacred
• the Catholic and Jesuit
• the value of the individual and the value of the community
• the Jesuit/institutional ideals and the realities
• tradition and change
• local institutional culture and larger Jesuit/ Catholic culture
• rhetoric as a discipline and rhetoric as a practice
• integration of rhetoric and the parsing of rhetoric
• rhetoric and composition

 Questions identified for further inquiry
• What is the role of the Jesuits in the rhetorical tradition?
• What is “Jesuit rhetoric” or what do we mean by that phrase? How is it similar or different from other rhetorics?
• How can we find more effective ways to articulate the value of a rhetorical perspective in Jesuit education?
• What are the implications for writing program administrators and faculty when tapping into the Jesuit rhetoric or rhetorical tradition? How much should we explicitly do this in a writing course?
• What is the difference between rhetoric and composition? Can Jesuit institutions help reconcile speech and writing?
• What else can we do to build interdisciplinary communities of scholars interested in rhetoric on our campus and across campuses?
• Is rhetoric a partner is science or philosophy? (civic argument and the increasing role of science in this type of argument)
• Can we create a collection of syllabi from rhetoric courses drawn from all Jesuit colleges and universities?
• What would a coherent undergraduate curriculum that revives rhetoric look like?
• Can we discuss the potentially “polyphonic” nature of our circumstances a la Bakhtin?
• Can we use the structure and division of the Jesuit university as a case study to examine how rhetoric functions?
• How can we create a place/space for teaching, research/scholarship, service, and administration meet in the act of eloquence?
• How do we deal with the function of moral formation within rhetoric instruction at a Jesuit school? 
• How do we productively resolve some of the tensions we have identified (i.e., our commitment to the local institution and to the discipline)?

Additional JCRC Documents

May 6, 2005

Rev. Charles Currie, SJ
Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities
One Dupont Circle, Suite 405
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Father Currie,

I am writing in reference to our conversation on May 4, 2005, about formalizing an organization of writing program faculty and administrators at Jesuit colleges and universities.

As you know, the group has been active since 1999 when it met for the first time at Marquette University. Virginia Chappell had organized that meeting, which was co-sponsored by Marquette. Since this initial meeting, we have continued to be active through a variety of activities:

• Marquette University hosts a listserv, WPA-SJ, to encourage frequent interaction and sharing of information across institutions.
• The group has met annually for breakfast at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. During these informal meetings, we discuss issues of administration, curriculum and scholarship and share ideas about programs and initiatives at our individual institutions. Attendance varies because of conflicts with CCCC  scheduled events.
• In October of 2002, St. Louis University’s writing program hosted a two day workshop, entitled “Ethics in the Writing Community: Students, Faculty, and Staff,” for our group.
• At the end of this month, Cinthia Gannett and I are facilitating a weekend workshop, “Teaching Rhetoric and Writing in the Jesuit Tradition,” as part of the Rhetoric Society of America’s Institute.

All of these venues have provided opportunities for collaboration about curricular, administrative and scholarly work that we do within the unique context of Jesuit colleges and universities. We would like to formalize our organization to more fully engage in activities that promote the social and educational goals of  writing programs. With the ad hoc arrangement that we currently have, we as a group have no unified voice and our existence depends on a few people dedicated to informal networking (which is difficult given the range of disciplinary traditions of writing program administrators and the variety in the positioning of writing programs across institutions). Formal recognition by AJCU would  provide legitimacy to our work and give us the visibility we need to collaborate with writing faculty at Jesuit colleges and universities so we can more effectively promote the Jesuit tradition through our writing programs.

Thanks in advance for your support in this goal. We are looking forward to using the AJCU materials that you mentioned during our conversation (e.g., a sample constitution) at our workshop later this month.


Peggy O’Neill