Weekly Response: Peter Elbow’s "Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries"

I'm going to write this weekly response differently from the others and see how I like it. It will be more of a reflection after reading than a note-taking and response.

This week's reading by Peter Elbow talks about voice, obviously. I know the term but didn't know there was so much controversy surrounding it. Well of course you can hear voice in writing, but tuning it out is important, too. I enjoyed how he argued first for and then against teaching and reading voice. Neat how he proved the importance and validity of both sides. That's certainly an uncommon way to write a persuasive essay.


Support for Elbow's arguments were presented logically, and as always, I seem to agree with everything this guy says.  And then when I step back from it, there's a problem. Last time it was how to put his ideas into practice without being met with violence. This time it's wondering why we are splitting hairs on this issue. Of course there's voice, and of course you can read a text and omit the voice. Are people really arguing hotly about this? I'm going to have to read this again tomorrow, because I'm sort of baffled at the need for controversy over this.

Speaking of reading twice, the only part I'm not sure I agreed with is the reading twice thing. (Elbow didn't say it though, some guy named Lanham did.) While that might be the best way to understand a text, I'm sure I would read once and use Lanham's practice called oscillatio instead of trying to read everything twice. (The term oscillatio is bothersome because it is a noun. Lanham should have named his practice with a verb. Or not, yoga is a practice. Anyway the term irks me and sounds wrong.)

I like his bit about not needing to be a zero-sum game. I think this is a perfect example of both sides being right and having value. There are many more arguments like this. I wish I could have put it in those terms for my discussion lead: that multiple literacies/languages and learning SWE are not mutually exclusive; it's not a zero-sum game where one is right and the other wrong. Thanks for those terms, Elbow. I knew that's what I meant, but again you explained things more eloquently than I.

Elbow states that just because there's voice in writing, it doesn't mean the voice reflects the author's authentic personality. That's good, because I like Elbow's voice in writing, but if he's like that in person he's probably a long-haired, Birkenstock wearing, granola eating, kumbaya singing dude. Now that I said that, I'm going to google him....

OK, Elbow was right; his voice probably isn't really reflecting himself, just that he's a product of the 60's and 70's. He went to school at Harvard and Brandeis, and taught at MIT after turning down UC Berkeley. If he taught English at MIT over Berkeley, then that right there proves the truth of the argument that voice does not really represent the author but is always constructed. If his voice, at least how I "hear" it, were really a reflection of his person, he would not have chosen MIT over Berkeley.

Weekly Response: Peter Elbow’s "Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries"

I'm going to write this weekly response differently from the others and see how I like it. It will be more of a reflection after reading than a note-taking and response.

This week's reading by Peter Elbow talks about voice, obviously. I know the term but didn't know there was so much controversy surrounding it. Well of course you can hear voice in writing, but tuning it out is important, too. I enjoyed how he argued first for and then against teaching and reading voice. Neat how he proved the importance and validity of both sides. That's certainly an uncommon way to write a persuasive essay.


Support for Elbow's arguments were presented logically, and as always, I seem to agree with everything this guy says.  And then when I step back from it, there's a problem. Last time it was how to put his ideas into practice without being met with violence. This time it's wondering why we are splitting hairs on this issue. Of course there's voice, and of course you can read a text and omit the voice. Are people really arguing hotly about this? I'm going to have to read this again tomorrow, because I'm sort of baffled at the need for controversy over this.

Speaking of reading twice, the only part I'm not sure I agreed with is the reading twice thing. (Elbow didn't say it though, some guy named Lanham did.) While that might be the best way to understand a text, I'm sure I would read once and use Lanham's practice called oscillatio instead of trying to read everything twice. (The term oscillatio is bothersome because it is a noun. Lanham should have named his practice with a verb. Or not, yoga is a practice. Anyway the term irks me and sounds wrong.)

I like his bit about not needing to be a zero-sum game. I think this is a perfect example of both sides being right and having value. There are many more arguments like this. I wish I could have put it in those terms for my discussion lead: that multiple literacies/languages and learning SWE are not mutually exclusive; it's not a zero-sum game where one is right and the other wrong. Thanks for those terms, Elbow. I knew that's what I meant, but again you explained things more eloquently than I.

Elbow states that just because there's voice in writing, it doesn't mean the voice reflects the author's authentic personality. That's good, because I like Elbow's voice in writing, but if he's like that in person he's probably a long-haired, Birkenstock wearing, granola eating, kumbaya singing dude. Now that I said that, I'm going to google him....

OK, Elbow was right; his voice probably isn't really reflecting himself, just that he's a product of the 60's and 70's. He went to school at Harvard and Brandeis, and taught at MIT after turning down UC Berkeley. If he taught English at MIT over Berkeley, then that right there proves the truth of the argument that voice does not really represent the author but is always constructed. If his voice, at least how I "hear" it, were really a reflection of his person, he would not have chosen MIT over Berkeley.