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Writing Beyond the Curriculum in the City of Brotherly Love

Stephen Parks

Cloth $24.95s    |    978-0-8156-3242-9    |    2010

"Through a detailed account of a Temple University community writing program’s evolution, Stephen Park’s Gravyland: Writing Beyond the Curriculum in the City of Brotherly Love offers salient lessons for educators interested in university-based community engagement."—Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

"Gravyland offers readers a tale of personal, theoretical, practical and institutional evolution as both Parks’s and the Institute’s understanding of how to most effectively use urban university resources to support working–class communities develops over time, self–reflexively challenging its own values and beliefs to cultivate a richer theory of change."—Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

"Gravyland is a book for all in writing and literacy studies who want not only to theorize about the world within which we teach, learn, and write but to change it."—Nancy Welch, author of Living Room: Teaching Public Writing in a Privatized World

In Gravyland, Parks chronicles the history of an urban university writing program and its attempt to develop politically progressive literacy partnerships with the surrounding community while having to work within and against a traditional educational and cultural landscape. He details the experience of the New City Writing program at Temple University from its beginning as a small institute with one program at a local public school to a multi-faceted organization, raising millions of dollars, and establishing partnerships across the diverse neighborhoods of Philadelphia. In doing so, the author describes classrooms where the community takes a seat and becomes part of the conversation—a conversation which is recorded and shared through a selection of writing produced.

While Parks celebrates classroom success in generating knowledge through dialog with the larger community, he also highlights many of the obstacles the organizers of the New City Writing program faced. The author shows that writing alliances between universities and communities are possible but they must take into account the institutional, economic, and political pressures that accompany such partnerships. Blending the theoretical and practical lessons learned, Parks details New City Writing’s effort to offer a new model of education, one in which the voice of the professor must share space with the voices of the community, and one in which students come to understand that the right to sit in a classroom is not just the result of war, but of peaceful civil disobedience, of community struggles to gain self-recognition, and of collective efforts to seek social justice.

Stephen Parks is associate professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University. He is the author of Class Politics: The Movement for the StudentsRight to Their Own Language. He is also executive director of New City Community Press and editor of Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy.

6 x 9, 232 pages, 1 black-and-white illustration, notes, bibliography, index


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