Tag Archives: #writingtheory

ii. speak yourself

In this metaphorical world, then, even if we figure out the system, we are stuck. If we want to be heard we are limited to our single note. If we want to sing other notes, we will not be heard.
And yet, if we are brave and persistent enough to sing our note at length–to develop our capacity for resonance–gradually we will be able to ‘sing ourselves in’: to get resonance first into one or more frequencies and then more. Finally, we will be able to sing whatever note we want to sing, even to sing whatever note others want to hear, and to make every note resound with rich power.
Peter Elbow, Power 282
(qtd. in “Voices in Writing” 172)

Whaaaaaaat? I’m starting a blog post with a deep quote and not an awkward “oKAY KIDS WE’RE HERE LET’S GO” ? Unheard of. Unthinkable. Wild.

Maybe I’m learning. Maybe I’m still lowkey, wistfully emotional and riding the high of a double concert weekend. I gotta give my wallet a break, my god.

Anyway. Elbow. I’m really digging this article. Like, wow. I feel like I won’t be able to do it (nor anything else I’m planning on talking about) justice with my paltry commentary.  Here goes nothing, I suppose.

So, from the beginning, I could already see the whole either/or debate Elbow would later talk about throughout the paper. We have those who are all into students/writers having their own voice in writing and that voice is something that should be taught to try to achieve, then we have the skeptics who are like “y’all are just adapting to your audience so it’s not Really You but a You that’s been Socially Constructed to Fit Into A Mold.”

And like. I get it. I get what the skeptics are saying. Yes, people are so altered by society’s expectations of them that they almost don’t become people living for themselves anymore, but people living exclusively for others, even going as far as being a different person for each of those different people… so like, does a Real You even exist at that point?

Fun fact: I read a fanfiction that discussed that whole concept once. One of the best fics I’ve ever read.

Ten points if you could follow that long sentence. Because I’m afraid to reread it again. Regardless, Elbow has the right idea in disagreeing with the either/or debate, because things are never in black and white.

I feel like… we won’t be able to change the fact that we are socially constructed if we don’t try to alter society ourselves. If we don’t try for sincerity in writing and in general, we’ll never get it at all–if that makes sense. It’s completely true that we are changed by our places in society, but that’s a very dour and complacent state of mind to stay in. Real nihilistic, if you ask me. So… it’s fine to focus on your own voice in writing. It can really help with soul-searching and whatnot.

But along that same line, I’d say it’s not wrong to adapt the voice of your writing for your audience. For example, do you think I’m gonna write like this for a legitimate paper? With snark and thinly-veiled exhaustion and maybe one thought too many ?

Nah. I’ll reign it in. But does that mean my academic voice is any more or less Me? There surely is one real voice in me, but can’t it have more than one tone? Adaptability doesn’t always equate “artificiality,” which Elbow brings up a bit later in the article with an interesting quote:

“Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the contrary; for our hearers are prejudiced and think we have some design against them.” (169)

Lemme just @@@@ all those skeptics. Sure, there will be those writers that try to fool their readers into believing that they’re all-knowing, but it’s the writers who put their own selves into their writing that truly get (or should get) listened to.

Later on, Elbow talks about how there are those who believe that text gives no window to the actual self. Interesting. I’d say maybe not the whole self, because pshhh our whole selves aren’t even visible to us to begin with. But… given the right topic, you can have a person writing some pretty honest and soul-bearing stuff.

(I’m reminded of a blog post I did back in the day on fanfiction. That was a wild ride. I still shoot that link at people once in a while.)

Even more later on, Elbow brought up voice in different types of writing. I’m gonna go off about the voice in Internet language. I’m generally active in groupchats and on Twitter, and text-speech and internet lingo is a whole language on its own.

Elbow talks about how “handwriting is more personal and body-connected than typing, so handwritten words are often more experienced as more ‘voiced’ than typed or printed words. With the resources of word processing, people sometimes try to create or bring out a voice by using certain fonts” (176). That’s all well and good, but what about those platforms where you can’t utilize formatting options like fonts, bolding, italicizing, underlining, strikethroughs, etc.? Emoticons and emojis come to mind, but with text alone, more subtle trends come and go.

In fact! Who better to introduce those “Twitter Linguistics” than a student who studied them. A Twitter user conducted a survey (which I participated in) earlier in the year about different linguistic trends utilized online (particularly Twitter) such as “Keyboard Smashes,” “Excessively Long Ellipses,” “Non-Interrogative Question Marks,” etc.–most, if not all, of which I use on a daily basis. The user then posted later, saying that the paper was completed, so there you go! 

Now, all these little trends can help effectively convey one’s voice and attitude over cyberspace. I’ve been told that, in a messenger setting, I can easily be “heard” when I send messages. Whether it’s a rAISE IN VOICE or a……. confused…………. drawn-out….. pause, or??? ?? a disbelieving? ? ? series of not-questions? ????, little text quirks can bring a new context to a person’s voice in writing.

When appropriate, of course. You won’t see me going jfklsjfkldsjkl in an academic paper.

I think that’s all I’ll say for this reading! I can’t wait to go over it more in class. It was actually a really interesting read.

There’s just one more thing I want to touch on before I go.

Last week in class, we watched a TEDtalk about “The danger of a single story” by novelist Chimamanda Adichie:

Hers was an incredible story. I was only able to answer two of the three posed questions during our Twitter discussion:

Before I did, though, I mentioned how I was reminded of a speech I’d heard earlier in the day at the United Nations General Assembly by the leader of popular K-Pop group, BTS. Truthfully, I felt (and feel) a little silly bringing it up, but the message of the speech–about youth, self-empowerment, self-love, and finding your voice to “Speak Yourself” and tell your story–was too important to pass up.

Everyone has a story to tell, after all. One that should be told and should be listened to. It’s something I stand for.

So yeah, voice is important. Probably more important than any of us can comprehend on our own.

See y’all next week.

— C


i. the theory part of theory & practice, feat. Grad School

Well, goodness me. First blog post for Writing Theory. This deserves a party. Or it should, but I’m running on fumes from a concert I went to last night (all hail Sir Ed, lads) so we’re gonna settle for a less-than-exuberantly raised fist and a halfhearted huzzah. I hope you understand.

Regardless! I’m hyped! It’s already the third full week of grad school, and it only just feels like I’m settling in. Which is fine. It’s a change. New Laptop, New Phone, New Schedule, New Responsibilities… Doesn’t feel like too big of a change, though, since it’s the Same Campus, Same Professors, Same(ish) Job… So I almost feel an uneasy sense of … ease? It’s like… I’m chill and taking things in stride right now… but I’ve got a feeling that’s gonna come back to bite me at some point.


Anyway, for the time being, I’m okay. No word on Christina of Three Weeks From Now, though.

Ominous looming foreboding-ness, aside. Let’s move on to last week’s class.


Last Week’s Class

We participated in a Twitter Scavenger Hunt that really functioned as Twitter 101. Served as a cool little ice breaker between us and the rest of the Equity Unbound crew, too.

It was fun–posting mystery pics and guessing others’. (Truth be told I feel a little bad mine was difficult to guess, and also because the lighting kinda threw people off.)

I’m better-versed on Twitter nowadays than I was back in my #NetNarr days, so the learning portion of it wasn’t particularly difficult. What was out of my comfort zone was actually participating in the conversations going on. I’m more of a lurker, I suppose? Sneak in a RT and a Like now and then, but I’m trying to get better at putting myself out there. So! This should help! Right?!

(God help me and my mute internet self.)

Alright, let’s move on to the reading we were assigned last class.


The Reading We Were Assigned Last Class

Here’s where the title of this post comes in, because wowie That’s a Lot of Theory. Janice Lauer’s “Rhetoric and Composition” was… daunting to get through. But I did it! Did I understand and comprehend all of it? Nah!

Real talk, it’s not that drastic. I was able to parse a good portion of the thing, relating to more than I thought I would. There were some really interesting bits in there, scattered among the walls of text that sounded a bit like a manual on theorizing quantum physics. I made notes, even! I know I won’t be able to get to everything I found interesting, but. … Yeah, there’s no “but,” just know I’m not gonna wax poetic on everything.

Overall, the text was a comprehensive history of the teaching of writing and writing theory, albeit in more… complex terms.

(Honestly, the term rhetoric always kind of eluded me. I didn’t take the Rhetoric class Writing majors were required to take in undergrad, so I’m still kinda like ?? ?? ? Curse of a Lit major, I guess. But! That will surely change this semester. Pretty sure I have no choice. And like, I have some knowledge of rhetoric considering I’ve helped many a freshman with Rhetorical Analysis papers in the writing center… Hmm.)

ANYWAY. There has been a lot of debate regarding what and how to teach students. From what I gathered, the reigning agreement among the more progressive sort of the academic elite was that teaching should be more individualized and considerate of students’ particular voices–utilizing journals, meditation, analogies, etc. to achieve some sort of self-actualization–something I can definitely get behind (Lauer 117). I’m all for showing personality through writing. It’s my jam.

I suppose the remaining arguments are the “ok how do we do that while keeping up the ability to actually Judge student writing on a standardized basis” ones. To which, I reply with a groan. Particularly @ standardized. It’s understandable how you need a basis to be able to build up, but it got to a point that the basis was all the students gained from the regimented teaching style (114). Professors were caught up teaching kids how to recognize good writing and not how to go about making their own. Like, okay, here’s how you build a boat. Know how to build a boat now? Great! Here’s a degree.

I’m not bitter. I promise. I say as I hide my literature degree behind my back.

(Am I saying that my literature degree doesn’t prepare students for the writing aspects of the senior courses? That the writing classes are optional for them and that I took as many as I was allowed, aka, like 2-3? Is that what I’m saying? Hmm? Am I calling for a union of the majors with just a difference in concentration between the two and a balance between writing and literature aspects of it? Hmm? Mayhaps I am. Also: see p.126–the section regarding part time instructors with no benefits. Hmm.)

Anyways, long story short, I agree that standardized grading is stupid (see p.119) and professors should consider their students, just like how students should consider their audiences when writing. BAM. 

That was going to be a segue but it’s cancelled because I want to talk about something else instead: how a lot of the points made around p.120-128 (and throughout the whole text, honestly) are pretty much ideals of the Writing Center, or allude to things and concepts I’ve learned while working there: Writer ownership, utilization of the writer’s own voice in writing (and how academia seeks to destroy it), writing in the disciplines and the differences therein, ESL and cross-cultural writing (a topic I just might want to focus a thesis on? Maybe?)…

I suppose there was a lot in this text that spoke to me… And I am hoping to focus specifically on several of the issues brought up throughout the semester. On a second look, though, it’s a good introduction to this class. I believe so, at least.

And so, I’ll leave you with one, final, small point, courtesy of p.128, where Lauer brings up scholars’ distaste for picking apart the “superficial” issues of a student’s work. We try to look at the High-Order Concerns (HOCs) over the Low-Order Concerns (LOCs), but I’m a stickler for grammar, so I tend to point out the LOCs like grammar and formatting even if a HOC is organization. In the end, though, I just preach consistency. For example, if you neglect the Oxford Comma, friend, you’d better neglect it all the way through–(Please don’t neglect the Oxford Comma, I beg you). Or, if you format dialogue a certain way, it’d better be the same throughout.

The same can go for a lot of aspects of writing, actually, and even in life, too. (Oops, she’s getting deep.) If you like to do a thing one way–organize, format, eat, sing, draw, write, etc.–as long as you’re not hurting anybody, stick to it. Don’t let academia (read: society) take away your voice, man. You wanna neglect that Oxford Comma, you neglect that Oxford Comma!

(I’m kidding, please don’t neglect the Oxford Comma.)

Alright, I’ve ranted enough this post.

See y’all next week!

— C