Chapter 6. Rescuing Craft for Writing Studies
According to Leigh Gruwell (2022), one of the reasons craft isn't widely used in rhetoric and writing studies is because "it remains an undertheorized concept that has devolved into shorthand for technical proficiency or mechanical expertise" (p. 131). To argue for craft in writing studies, Gruwell adds that "it's worth considering how craft, as a concept, can ground both the institutional and intellectual work of the field" (p. 141). After a short history (pp. 132–137), Gruwell moves beyond what craft was to show what it can do for writing studies and provided calls to action for pedagogy, administration, and scholarship.
Pedagogically, craft agency emphasizes the "rhetorical and political effects of materiality" (p. 144) over a skills-based view of writing. Gruwell acknowledges that craft's multimodality equips teachers and students to see and critically examine rhetoric and recognize the intra-actions between human and nonhuman agents.
Scholars interested in food rhetorics often take a similar approach. Food pedagogy draws on traditional literacies and community literacies to engage an assets-based approach to learning and "helps to expand the scope of literacy acquisition by changing the narrative about what people can expect from themselves" (Durá et al., 2015, p. 35).
For administrators, craft agency encourages a critical awareness of equitable labor practices. Specifically, Gruwell draws attention to two administrative concerns: contingent faculty's inequitable labor and implementing labor-based contract grading. Craft agency makes "visible the material assemblages produced by our disciplinary labor practices" (p. 147). Though Gruwell does not provide administrators with a roadmap to address labor inequities, she calls readers to embrace "a reciprocal ethics of entanglement" (p. 148), which tasks administrators to build a co-constitutive environment by making labor practices visible.
Research and Scholarly Practices
When Gruwell says, "citation assemblages can be both powerful and exclusionary" (p. 150), the multiply marginalized and underrepresented scholars list Dr. Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq (2022) created and Anti-racist scholarly reviewing practices: A heuristic for editors, reviewers, and authors (2021) came to mind. Both resources call scholars to critically examine the citational assemblages they create and circulate. For researchers and scholars, Gruwell reminds readers that it is crucial to ask whom citations privilege, how citations should impact claims, and what kind of relationships citations highlight or hide (p. 150).
Though this final chapter mentions a few ways craft agency impacts the field, Gruwell refrains from providing a fixed strategy to move forward. Instead, the examples of applying craft agency pedagogically, at the administrative level, and in research practices are meant to give readers a starting point to build connections to develop a critical understanding of ethical obligations and political commitments as rhetoric and writing studies teacher–scholars. In the next section, I provide how I've implemented craft agency to provide further examples.