College Composition and Communication, as many of you know, is a major journal in the field of rhetoric and composition. Those of you who subscribe and have received your December, 2008 issue might have noticed that it's a rather hefty issue. This is because it features five main articles as well as the customary chair's address from this year's CCCC.
The heft is not, however, due to the usual end-of-issue shorter pieces, such as the "interchanges," review essays, or the feature that the current editor Deborah Holdstein started, called "Re/Visions," in which scholars revisit and reconsider articles that appeared long ago in the pages of CCC. These, you may have noticed, have been amputated: each piece--including a three-part "Re/Visions" feature and three review essays [!]--is printed for a few paragraphs, and then it trails into a web address that is presumably a site called "The Extended CCC," where interested (and subscribing) readers can read the rest of the piece. The issue also includes a four-page editor's account of why the amputation occurred, and this account reads like a polite defense, including a long discussion of CCC's miniscule acceptance rate.
I first found out about the editorial decision when Holdstein called me up a couple of days before the issue was going to go to press. She called me because I had organized the latest "Re/Visions" feature, a set of essays by Dana Anderson, Christa Olson, and me about a little-known article that Kenneth Burke published in CCC in 1978. The editor wanted to explain to me what was going on.
Needless to say, I was not happy about this decision, and I told Holdstein so. I also let the journal's officers know that I don't think it is the right decision to ghettoize the lively shorter pieces by lopping them off and placing them online. Practically, it means that citing the pieces is very weird. What page numbers ought to be used? And it means that people who rely on library subscriptions of the journal won't have easy access to the essays. And finally, no matter what the editor says about how these are real publications, it means that our work has been devalued.
In looking through the print edition of the issue under question, I also noted that there are THREE review essays. Review essays are also VERY hard work, and they constitute some of the most crucial evaluative work in every field. I also have to wonder why there are so many review essays. Isn't there usually only one? If that is the case, then the acceptance of so many review essays is a case of mismanagement that is unrelated to the low acceptance rate that Holdstein puts forward as the main justification for the EP CCC. What's more, our Re-visions piece ends with a blank half-page, which means three more paragraphs could have been included. The poor review-essays only got a paragraph printed in the journal, if that, before slamming into the circulation information and advertisements. Seeing those review essays, and knowing how much work went into the writing and editing of those essays made this book review editor very sad.
In any case, the thing is a bit of a mess, and even though there are various accounts about who is to blame, and even though the editor is obviously in a tight spot where page limits and acceptances are concerned, and even though I understand the problems and costs associated with publishing a book-length issue, I think this never should have happened. Jenny Edbauer Rice's piece on "Rhetoric's Mechanics" is cool, though--check it out.
Anyway, while I by no means think our "Re/Visions" essays are earth-shatteringly important, they were great fun to pull together, and the process of writing mine helped me to compose the epilogue to my forthcoming book. I also happen to think they are unfairly lopped off. I am therefore making our "Re/Visions" contribution available for download so that interested people can read it without trying to remember their usernames or passwords. You can access our essays, "Burke is Dead: Long Live Burke!" (Anderson); "The Squirm" (Hawhee); and "Burke's Attitude Problem" (Olson); as well as the original Burke article, "Questions and Answers about the Pentad," by following the links below.