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My meta-goal for voice in writing…..

This week’s reading has been quite a feast and I am looking forward to our class discussion. In the spirit of Chimamanda Adichie’s TEDtalk and Peter Elbow’s idea of moving beyond compromise and embracing contradictions I am including a link to one of my favorite artist/linguists. Molly Bartholemew is an American Sign Language interpreter who captures the spirit of music and popular recording artists through visual storytelling and ASL.
Watch with the sound on and then turn the sound off.
Does she capture the voice of the artist?
What tools does she use?
Are there any metaphors that move beyond sound and hearing that might be useful in writing beyond “voice?”

Voice in Writing​

Last week while watching Chimamanda Adichie’s TEDtalk video about “The danger of a single story” I was able to relate to many of her experiences and agreed to the statements she made about the dangers of a single story.  Growing up in Haiti, my parents always enrolled in private schools, I enjoyed summers in resorts and lived a life unlike many others. In my younger childhood years, I was unaware of Haiti’s poverty and political destruction until I went to other places for holiday and other people would talk about terrible things happening in the country. My parents, for the most part, kept me sheltered from that reality because they planned to move out of the country in the future. After living in both Canada and the United States, I have a story about Haiti that many other people would not assume. I suppose people would expect a story of poverty, misfortune or any other stereotypes that connect when it comes to the country and living there.

Nevertheless, I, like Chimamanda have a voice in the story of Haiti that is unconventional and different from stories in the news, or books. If I were to write a truthful story about my childhood in Haiti it would sound natural to me, however, to be more persuasive for others I would probably write a different story about a reality that fits more into the stereotype of a Haitian childhood. This is a point Peter Elbow makes in his article Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries when he referenced philosopher, Aristotle. He states,

We can now see that a writer must disguise his art and give the impression of speaking naturally and not artificially. Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the contrary; for our hearers are prejudiced and think we have some design against them. (1404b)

The point of voice in writing is further elaborated in the text. Elbow discusses the difference between writing (text) and voice ( language). He discusses in great details about the way writers have an authentic voice and one that is tuned and polished in order to create writing styles that are appropriate in context ( i.e classroom, teacher expectations, etc.)

Another point Elbow referenced in his article is from associate professor Darsie Bowden who argues that,

…voice is alive in our classrooms. Students at all levels instinctively talk and think about voice, or their voice in their writing, and tend to believe they have a real or true self—despite the best efforts of some of their teachers (170).

It is in a classroom setting that many students, unfortunately, lose their voice because teachers tell them that they should write in ways that fit categories, and proper writing formats. Students are adversely affected in this way because they are no longer able to express themselves in writing and ultimately their true voice is silenced. They then go on to write stories or text that simply gets them a satisfactory grade.

Voice and Writing

“We may be constructed by culture, but if we learn to analyze carefully enough how this happens, then we can actually work toward a fairer world.” -Paul Smith and Randall Freisinger

“Voice” is a privilege to have where I come from. Having a voice at all, you were already on top of the world. As I read this article through the eyes as a growing student, I began to realize a lot of points made about voice that was never taught to me. Before I get into those points, this article also made me revisit the issues I had with my own voice and writing. Even as a young student, I knew I had something to say about different topics, world issues, or politics.

However, I always to write about what the teacher wanted me to write about in his or her voice. My writing voice was silenced, which meant my voice was silenced. I then began to sound robotic. I had no unique style and I knew there were twenty other papers that sounded exactly like mine. Peter Elbow who wrote this article, “Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”, wrote about the importance of and how it constructs one’s self. “Among the latter group, some want to disguise what they feel are their ‘real selves’, some want to give voices to what they experience as multiple selves, and some don’t feel they have actual selves at all until they create them with language” (171). I related to this in the way I could not be myself when it came to my voice. This issue was carried with me until my undergraduate years of college.

One of the points I want to discuss is that voice in writing is not only important for the author but for the reader as well. “When readers hear a voice in a piece of writing, they are often more drawn to read it-and that audible voice often makes the words easier to understand” (Elbow, 176). I can’t think of a piece of literature or poetry that I have read where I was not drawn to the voice of the author or character. It is a critical aspect of writing that I think many scholars and educators have failed to realize. Personally, there is nothing wrong with having your own voice in an academic paper.

The second point that I found interesting was the technique of having students reading their work out loud more but for a specific reason. Of course, we were all taught to read our work aloud before handing it in. However, Elbow suggests that the student should read their work out loud because they are more likely to, “listen to their words and write sentences that are inviting and comfortable to speak, which, in turn, makes the sentences better for the readers reading in silence”. I thought that was so fascinating. When a student hears their voice in writing out loud, in their own voice, the reader will most likely be more attracted to and engaged in their writing.

The last point, which I had to agree and disagree with Elbow, was on page 183 when he discussed issues with voice writing in the classroom. He pointed out that voice in writing would make the students believe that writing in their own style and voice, then they will be good writers. Even though I agree with him to a certain degree, I would have to also disagree. If a student masters their writing in their own voice, that student will then become more comfortable with their writing. I believe because of that, the student will continue to grow in their writing and want to explore various voices because they are no longer confused about their own voice. I love to practice writing in “someone else’s voice” and not writing in my own voice. However, the only way I was able to be comfortable with writing in someone else’s voice, I had to be comfortable with my own. It took me years to undo what my teachers had taught me but I believe it made me a better writer.

*Overall, what I learned from this article is that there needs to be a balance between teaching critical thinking and writing in your own voice.*

Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries by Peter Elbow: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=eng_faculty_pubs

Response to Rhetoric and Composition, by Janice Lauer and Assimilation into Writing Masters

It is with great reluctance that I move forward into the digital age. Our Twitter scavenger hunt, digital syllabus and weekly blog posts are definitely outside of my comfort zone. The public nature of the internet is unsettling for me. I like the boundaries of a good old fashioned hard copy. Generally, I use my computer as a word processor, and to search the internet if and when I want for what I am interested in and that’s it. That being said, I have been enjoying the different people I have come into contact with as a result of Equity Unbound and that is helping me get my head around the idea of digital literacy. I remain open to the journey.
While I like the idea of open and equitable education, I also appreciate a sense privacy around my own process. I like a long slow progression of meandering drafts, and intense revision. I am particular with whom I share my work for editing and only then do I open it up to other people. I don’t like sharing things in a public forum and creating a digital footprint of undeveloped work. It feels incongruous with my draft and revision process and my own nature as a private person. I hope to be convinced otherwise.
I really enjoyed the reading: Rhetoric and Composition, by Janice Lauer, and have had several themes from it dancing around in my head all week. The first was the distinction of rhetorical scholarship and its history as separate from grammar and composition. According to Lauer, when tracing education back to the Greeks and Romans, students were educated in a curriculum that included grammar, philosophy and rhetoric. She states that by the twentieth century, rhetorical scholarship had almost disappeared and what remained was the teaching of composition. The result in the classroom was a focus centered primarily on grammar instruction and finished products. This point brought my attention to the significance of rhetoric as its own entity and how it impacts both writing and oratory abilities. I would also add that it alters the receptive abilities of the audience. The art of rhetoric brings breadth and depth to any communication; both giving and receiving. I went on to do further reading to increase my own understanding of rhetoric at the following website:
https://www.aresearchguide.com/rhetorical-situation.html

I am deeply interested in this idea of crafting an argument and what it means in the everyday act of communication in writing and as a human being. These are some of the things I learned about the importance of rhetoric: including informal reasoning powers as well as appealing to the ethos and the pathos. Ethos is a Greek word meaning character that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation or ideology. Interestingly, it is also the word the Greeks use to refer to the influence and power that music holds over emotions, behaviors and even morals. I was reminded that Aristotle uses ethos in his concept of the three artistic proofs or modes of persuasion and have made a note to get back to this point in my own studies. The other words I gathered in this exploration of rhetoric were Pathos: A Greek word meaning a quality that evokes pity or sadness. Logos: A statement or argument used to convince or persuade an audience by employing reason or logic. A good argument should be rooted in all three of these places.
Coming from a political science background this exploration really appealed to me, and simultaneously it is shocking that I did not have a better grasp of the pedagogical principles involved. I couldn’t help but wonder how this lack of education in rhetoric impacts the receptive skills of “the audience.” In my limited grasp of rhetoric, these days in politics it seems that the “audience” is vulnerable to easy manipulation by politicians who play on the anticipated one-dimensional reaction from the audience rooted solely in emotion and lacking the roots of ethos, pathos and especially logos. I appreciated on P128 of Lauer’s essay, the mention of theorists arguing against what they felt was excessive focus on individual inquiry. “Another nettling issue that continues to plague the field is the superficial or even missing attention to audience or readers in teaching composition.” The assumption that the teacher is the only audience.
As an adult student I long for a little bit of what Lauer refers to as “formalist pedagogy” and maintain the desire for spelling and grammar drills. I can’t help it. I am a product of my generation and cringe when I read incomplete sentences with spelling errors. I recognize the controversy around this topic and do not believe it is all there should be. The reading refers to this as “full-frontal teaching of grammar.” I agree with the idea that an individualized approach to teaching grammar is more effective. While I do not advocate the humiliation-based technique that was implemented in my own grade school curriculum, I do have a deep respect for form and structure as a foundation, and hope that this does not get lost.
I loved the message in Lauer’s summary and hold these thoughts to be truth’s:
1)The Commitment to develop all levels of literacy, without exclusion.
2)The potential central role of literacy in empowering people to shape contemporary world culture.
3)Education is power and articulation is its vehicle. Helping students to develop their powers of inquiry and communication in order to enrich and re-envision their everyday, civic, academic and workplace lives.

I look forward to investigating further many of the theorists and ideas that were touched upon, including: Walter Ong, Kenneth Burke, Alan Purves, Rohman and Wlecke, Walker Gibson, Slevin, Crowley and Freire.

Vocabulary list from this reading:

Ethymeme: a rhetorical syllogism (a three- part deductive argument) used in oratorical practice.
(Originally theorized by Aristotle) He described four different types of ethymemes.
Epistemology: The theory of knowledge, especially with regards to its methods. It is the investigation of what distinguished justified belief from opinion.
Heuristic: enabling a person to discover or learn something about themselves
Heteroglossia: the presence of two or more voices or expressed viewpoints in a text or other artistic work.
Kairos: the right or opportune moment for certain arguments
Semiotics: the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation
Semiotics and the communication triangle
Trivium: An introductory curriculum at a medieval university involving the study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

A Positive Start

Optimism is believed to be a key capable of unlocking the door to proper student autonomy by many people. It is something that I indeed subscribe to and by that optimism that I’d like to begin this very first blog post for my Writing Theory and Practice class. Although it is difficult to determine which side of the definition of optimism that I find myself in, whether the hopefulness for a successful outcome or the confidence in oneself for that outcome, I’d like to think that a positive outlook in general always leads to a positive future in some aspect. This may very well be the reason behind my positive experience in our first couple of weeks of the class.

Our first reading assignment for the term was an article called Rhetoric and Composition by Janice Lauer. It interestingly reminded me of many articles I was tasked with reading when I was an undergraduate. It felt nostalgic in an oddly satisfying way. Though it seemed a bit excessive in terms of academic display, it had so much to teach at the same time. I guess that is the satisfactory aspect of these type of articles which I remember fondly. I always struggled to read through them but in the end there were great things that I learned and recalled over the years. There are many details to consider when it comes to writing but specifically teaching how to write seems to lose its much deserved attention from my part. Articles, such as this, remind me of that important distinction and I’m quite confident that this was just a first of many to come throughout the semester.

The article often emphasized pedagogy of teaching persuasive writing and how encouragement of integrating personal elements into it was crucial for more effective results for not only the students but the readers as an audience as well. Looking back, the main focus in majority of writing assignments that I was involved in was always the application of composition structure along with usage of proper grammar. That methodical approach made me often question the lack of personality from the writer which could obviously create a distance or at least unwanted distraction by the reader. The article claims that students “overemphasize expository writing” and observe their teachers as “examiners rather than as audience” when they write essays. This is very true because that was the mind set I used to find myself in whenever I was tasked to write an persuasive or even an expository essay. The image of my professor going through my writing and finding my mistakes was ever-looming. I believe this unwarranted fear correlated with writing pedagogy often exercised in writing classes just as the article suggests. Quite often, key elements such as personality, philosophy, and rhetoric would be neglected in service of more formal style of writing catering to those who tends to grade an essay rather than receive it as a member of the audience. It is very important to remind ourselves and teach our students that “recognizing an example of good prose is not learning how to make the necessary effort to achieve it.”

The article asks the question of whether we should see ourselves as a writer or a rhetor when it comes to persuasive compositions. I had never considered the evident difference between the two. I guess a writer in a traditional sense would fall more likely into the category of people who tend to use the methodical approach to writing; such as the overall structure of how paragraphs are aligned and how the transitions are integrated into the essay. If that is the case, what would be the proper way of describing a rhetor? I would propose the same description as a public speaker except for the act being conducted in written form. Public speakers do not overly concern themselves with the structure of their particular speech because their main objective is always their audience, and more importantly winning the approval of that audience. They rely on receivers in social context and investigate compelling questions in rhetorical situations to persuade them just as the article suggests what rhetors tend to do. I should also see myself as a public speaker when I need to compose a persuasive essays in the future to study its efficiency personally and eventually pass that experience, should it prove productive as expected, to my students.

Another interesting aspect I‘d like to mention from the article is the notion of “students’ right to their own language”. This was a thought provoking assertion and I had never examined composition from that particular aspect. The students, as writers, had rights to integrate their own tone, style, and indeed the language. Overemphasis in formality often serve as restriction and obstacle in defining the character of the writer. Students need to be familiarized with “using dialects in which they find their own identity and style”. I believe the objective of any sort of writing should be self-discovery rather than making an impression on the reader. A sense of freedom is much needed to find a voice that can reach out to its audience. This freedom in writing, if given the time and space to flourish, could ignite much optimism that leads to positive outcomes without any doubts.

Overall, the article Rhetoric and Composition by Janice Lauer was a good read. There were many things to dissect from. I’m certainly looking forward to our next reading assignment.

Response to Rhetoric and Composition, by Janice Lauer and Assimilation into Writing Masters

It is with great reluctance that I move forward into the digital age. Our Twitter scavenger hunt, digital syllabus and weekly blog posts are definitely outside of my comfort zone. The public nature of the internet is unsettling for me. I like the boundaries of a good old fashioned hard copy. Generally, I use my computer as a word processor, and to search the internet if and when I want for what I am interested in and that’s it. That being said, I have been enjoying the different people I have come into contact with as a result of Equity Unbound, and that is helping me get my head around the idea of digital literacy. I remain open to the journey.

While I like the idea of open and equitable education, I also appreciate a sense of privacy around my own process. I like a long slow progression of meandering drafts and intense revision. I am very particular with whom I share my work for editing, and then I open it up to other people. I don’t like sharing things in a public forum and creating a digital footprint of undeveloped work. It feels incongruous with my draft and revision process and my own nature as a private person. I hope to be convinced otherwise.

I really enjoyed the reading: Rhetoric and Composition, by Janice Lauer, and have had several themes from it dancing around in my head all week. The first was the distinction of rhetorical scholarship and its history as separate from grammar and composition. According to Lauer, when tracing education back to the Greeks and Romans, students were educated in a curriculum that included grammar, philosophy, and rhetoric. She states that by the twentieth century, rhetorical scholarship had almost disappeared and what remained was the teaching of composition. The result in the classroom was a focus centered primarily on grammar instruction and finished products. This point brought my attention to the significance of rhetoric as its own entity and how it impacts both writing and oratory abilities. I would also add that it alters the receptive skills of the audience. The art of rhetoric brings breadth and depth to any communication; both giving and receiving. I went on to do further reading to increase my own understanding of rhetoric at the following website:

https://www.aresearchguide.com/rhetorical-situation.html

I am deeply interested in this idea of crafting an argument and what it means in the everyday act of communication in writing and as a human being. These are some of the things I learned about the importance of rhetoric: including informal reasoning powers as well as appealing to the ethos and the pathos. Ethos is a Greek word meaning character that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation or ideology. Interestingly, it is also the word the Greeks use to refer to the influence and power that music holds over emotions, behaviors and even morals. I was reminded that Aristotle uses ethos in his concept of the three artistic proofs or modes of persuasion and have made a note to get back to this point in my own studies. The other words I gathered in this exploration of rhetoric were Pathos: A Greek word meaning a quality that evokes pity or sadness. Logos: A statement or argument used to convince or persuade an audience by employing reason or logic. A good argument should be rooted in all three of these places.

Coming from a political science background this exploration really appealed to me, and simultaneously it is shocking that I did not have a better grasp of the pedagogical principles involved. I couldn’t help but wonder how this lack of education in rhetoric impacts the receptive skills of “the audience.” In my limited grasp of rhetoric these days in politics, it seems that the “audience” is vulnerable to easy manipulation by politicians who play on the anticipated one-dimensional reaction from the audience rooted solely in emotion and lacking the roots of ethos, pathos and especially logos. I appreciated on P128 of Lauer’s essay, the mention of theorists arguing against what they felt was an excessive focus on individual inquiry. “Another nettling issue that continues to plague the field is the superficial or even missing the attention to audience or readers in teaching composition.” When the classroom is centered around composition only, the assumption is that the teacher is the only audience.

As an adult student, I long for a little bit of what Lauer refers to as “formalist pedagogy” and maintain the desire for spelling and grammar drills. I can’t help it. I am a product of my generation and cringe when I read incomplete sentences with spelling errors. I recognize the controversy around this topic and do not believe it is all there should be. The reading refers to this as “full-frontal teaching of grammar.” I agree with the idea that an individualized approach to teaching grammar is more effective. While I do not advocate the humiliation-based technique that was implemented in my own grade school curriculum, I do have a deep respect for form and structure as a foundation and hope that this does not get lost.

I look forward to investigating further many of the theorists and ideas that were touched upon, including Walter Ong, Kenneth Burke, Alan Purves, Rohman and Wlecke, Walker Gibson, Slevin, Crowley, and Freire.

I loved the message in Lauer’s summary and hold these thoughts  to be truth’s:
1)The Commitment to developing all levels of literacy, without exclusion.
2)The potential central role of literacy in empowering people to shape contemporary world culture.
3)Education is power and articulation is its vehicle. Helping students to develop their powers of inquiry and communication in order to enrich and re-envision their every day, civic, academic and workplace lives.

 

 

 

Vocabulary list from this reading:

Enthymeme: a rhetorical syllogism (a three-part deductive argument) used in oratorical practice. (Originally theorized by Aristotle) He described four different types of enthymemes.
Epistemology: The theory of knowledge, especially with regards to its methods. It is the investigation of what distinguished justified belief from opinion.
Heuristic: enabling a person to discover or learn something about themselves
Heteroglossia: the presence of two or more voices or expressed viewpoints in a text or other artistic work.
Kairos: the right or opportune moment for certain arguments
Semiotics: the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation
Semiotics and the communication triangle
Trivium: An introductory curriculum at a medieval university involving the study of grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Rhetoric and Composition…Exactly?

“From the mid-1960’s, members of the emerging field of rhetoric and composition began to challenge the teaching of writing as a “product” in which papers were assigned and handed in, and graded. Such teaching also focused on reading and discussing essays, completing exercises on style, and repeating drills on grammar. Little, if any, attention was paid to helping students get started, investigate ideas, consider readers, receive feedback on drafts or revise” (Lauer, 112).

When I heard the title of this article was called “Rhetoric and Composition”, I became overwhelmed by a fear that has often been present in my academic life as long as I can remember. I became intimated. It may sound ridiculous but I was intimidated by words. I have not yet studied rhetoric and composition, therefore I was afraid that I would not be able to understand the material. However, once I began to read what rhetoric and composition were about, I was drawn to the interesting topics it presented. My overall definition of rhetoric and composition is that it is the study of pedagogies and writing practices in various forms such as civic, workplace, academic and cross-cultural.
The reading was packed with so much important information regarding students and what they experience in the classroom but also what teachers experience when trying to teach their students about writing. Students have admitted that the main challenge in their English classrooms was that the subject of English was more of studying literature and less of being taught about composition. As a student myself, I agree. There are many occasions where I have sat through an English class and noticed that I was not being taught to the full extent. What I found fascinating about this article was how it talked about the importance of the teacher’s role in teaching rhetoric and composition. Their role has a critical effectiveness when it comes down to the writing instructions to the students.
One of the main points of this article that I would like to touch upon is the difficulties students of other cultures and backgrounds have when it comes to English studies. Janice M. Lauer from Purdue University spoke about how cultural differences is an important factor for teachers and students. “Tom Fox studied the difficulties of African-American students. Glynda Hull and Mike Rose researched the sociocognitive implications of remediation” (Lauer, 121). The reason why I wanted to discuss this more is that as an African American student, this hit home for me. I have seen teachers who decided that African American students could not grasp the information that they were giving to the class and instead of taking the time to help, they would skip over them and focus on the students’ difficulties instead of trying to find another to teaching the subject.
Diving into a more specific area of writing, I did not know that writing, race, and gender had a place in the world of rhetoric and composition. “Prominent in this area are Jacqueline Jones Royster, who has studied the writings of nineteenth and early twentieth-century black women, and Shirley Wilson Logan, who has analyzed the persuasive discourse of nineteenth-century black women” (Lauer, 126). It was encouraging to see that there were pioneers who studied African-American women in this field. It is easier to connect with people who can relate to your struggles and experiences even when it comes to English studies. This is something that I would like to further study on my own and see if my findings can be used in my own educational journey. Overall, I found this reading to be a warm welcome to Graduate School because it made it seem less “scary”. As a person who has always struggled with their writing, Lauer made me feel confident that I can continue with this process expecting more from myself. I see a new side to English studies that I feel like I was never taught before. This made me exciting for the rest of my Graduate School studies.

“Rhetoric and Composition” by Janice M. Lauer (Purdue University) Chapter Two

College Expectations (blog 1)

The first few weeks of classes have been tough, mostly just settling and getting used to being a college student again. During the first week of classes, I did not know where my classes were located because they were each in different buildings and also on different campuses. Even so, the idea of being a college student again and being in a classroom environment feels exciting and I am ready to take on all the opportunities Kean has to offer me. I was excited to meet my new professors and learn from them because I read about them before coming to Kean and they have done some amazing work in their careers.

My ultimate career goal is to become an education coordinator, helping students learn and teachers lead classrooms. I am excited to complete a master degree because I believe furthering my education will help me reach this career goal. I expect the work to be challenging yet very rewarding and inspire me to learn new skills and concepts in writing and literature.

The first reading for theory class was Rhetoric and Composition by Janice Lauer, I haven’t read any work by this professor yet and this one was very informational for understanding the English major and study. In the article, Lauer explains the relationship between rhetoric and composition. She describes composition as writing in a different context. She further explains the history of how composition established in the 1960s developed largely in the 20th century. Furthermore, she evaluates written discourse (that is rhetoric) and its significance to writing. Rhetoric is essential to understating grammar, reasoning, and philosophy. In the end, she concludes that rhetorical studies have increased greatly in interested over the years. Studies in combustion and rhetoric have made an impact on teaching and pedagogies.