From WGBH Forum Network:

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein-Graff are co-authors of They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matterin Academic Writing (W.W. Norton, 2006). Their talk [ Tuesday, November 21, 2006] focuses on the obscurity that still envelops popular understandings of how teachers and students enter the academic conversation. Their work argues that educational institutions need to do more to close the gap between the culture of public discourse and that of students and other citizens.

Cathy holds a PhD from Loyola University in Chicago. Her dissertation focuses on overlooked contradictions in the American rags-to-riches story. She has taught literature and composition at Columbia College, De Paul University, and Loyola, and is currently a lecturer and co-director of the Writing-in-the-Disciplines Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently working on projects focusing on Booker T. Washington, and on academic and civic literacy.


Gerald Graff was born and raised in Chicago and did his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and his PhD at Stanford. He has served as chair of the English Department at Northwestern University and as the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English and Education at the University of Chicago. In January 2000 he moved to the University of Illinois at Chicago as Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a joint appointment in the English department and the College of Education. A Guggenheim Fellowship led to his 1987 book, Professing Literature: An Institutional History (University of Chicago Press). His other books include Poetic Statement and Critical Dogma, Literature Against Itself, Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. In this book and other writings, he urges the productive use of controversy in teaching, in order to give focus to the curriculum and make intellectual work more coherent and accessible to students. He recently published Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind. In December 2005, he was elected Second Vice-President of the Modern Language Association of America, an honor that means he becomes President of the MLA in 2008.

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