Imagine my shock when one of the opening lines of this chapter pinpointed my experience in joining this field (on the third page!).
if students decide to major or even to do graduate work in English, they assume they will be studying literature. What these students often do not realize is that “English” also encompasses the discipline of rhetoric and composition
I became an English major for my love of literature: the classics, the epic poems, the satirical essays, and honestly the Victorian era as a whole. Later realizing that the inner workings of the writing field are so vast and dynamic, and that I would have to understand these inner workings if I were to ever join the league of giants I studied. Let me start by stating that I have no real desire to join the pedagogical field. However, learning the history and continuing progression of Rhetoric & Composition can only benefit my own journey as a writer.
Many of the topics in this chapter are not new to me due to a course I took last semester, Writing Pedagogies with Dr. Friend. A course I highly recommend to anyone wishing to extend their knowledge of the historical traditions of writing. Basically, imagine deep diving into this chapter and having your world view of teaching writing turned on its head. It was like cracking an egg on to a skillet slowly cooking it into breakfast, adding salt and pepper as you go along. That being said I am by no mean an expert in this, and I clearly understand that this is an ever growing and complicated field
One part of this chapter that stood out to me was when the author quoted a document published by the CCCC (the Conference on College Composition and Communication) on the legitimate use of social dialects in students. The document rejected the requirement of a “single American Standard English in all student writing and affirmed the students’ right to their own patterns and varieties of language the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style”. Having such a standard would rip away the voices of all writers. Identity is something so inherent in writing that (I believe) its impossible to detach. Being a poet I see it in each line I write, my experiences poured onto lines that I’ve carve on to paper, my strife’s, my pain, my joy all that originate from who I am, who I’ve become. This is why I’m so against the formalistic approaches. Why does it matter if my paper has a comma splice? Does that make the argument null? It reminded of an article that Richard Fulkerson wrote an article in 79′ on the four philosophies of writing. He wrote “the most common type of formalist value theory is a grammatical one: good writing is “correct” writing at the sentence level” (344). The use “correct” here bothered me, and is in line with this notion of an “American Standard English”. I wont get into on this blog post but if anyone wants to dip their toe, be my guest.
Anyways, my last thoughts on this week’s reading is my awe in learning that “only in the past thirty years has “rhetoric and composition ” become a full-fledged discipline within English studies”. I’m glad Janice M. Lauer started this chapter with this fact. It gave me some hope knowing that this discipline is still in constant change and growth. Maybe some of my peers or professors will have a hand in improving it.