Just like any other discipline, composition studies has various critics and defenders. One topic of debate about this field has to do with politics. The politics of composition can be reflected in the following three different views:
Sharon Crowley is one of the biggest critics of the institutional foundation of composition. She argues that composition instruction has been inappropriately influenced by humanist pedagogy. When humanism is used as a rationale for studying writing, larger educational and ideological agendas end up being advanced. These agendas don’t always serve the best interests of students or teachers. Often composition courses are presented by the institution as ones that students need, a commodified course of study that fits into the humanist aims of the academy but end up serving the economic justification for the academy in the first place. Crowley is also critical of process writing as being touted as a paradigm shift. She argues that it doesn’t sufficiently distance itself from current-traditionalism and that these strategies don’t mean a new epistemology.
Margorie Roemer defends the first year writing course as a potential “site of struggle and change within the institutional hierarchy of academia.” Some, like Crowley, ask whether or not this course should be required. In this view, the course is seen as a site of oppression because it is mainly taught by poorly paid adjuncts and graduate students. This reliance on non-tenured academics perpetuates the view that composition is a service and not as bonified discipline. Roemer supports maintaining the course because it can influence large numbers of students. Also, wanting to do away with the course can reflect an elitist view and the belief that 1) college is no place to teach basic skills and 2) the course is only there as a gatekeeper. Further, Crowley argues that the course only reproduces the values of the dominant culture. Roemer contends that is can also be a forum for difference which opens up students to the richness of ideas and practice.
Eileen Schell supports Crowley’s view that the first year writing course is oppressive to the contingent labor in the academy. She argues that many myths, such as the idea that the instructors are wives of faculty or working part-time because they are mothers, are used to defend the exploitation of these instructors. She criticizes the refusal to address the issues of professional stands and the working conditions in our current climate are bad for academic freedom and tenure.