On Voice (…and bearing voice in translation)

Peter Elbow on Voice

Thanks Jeanne for a thorough presentation of  Elbow’s theoretical writing on voice:  “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”.  Jeanne spoke eloquently about the concept of “voice” with a clear lens into the key points of Elbow’s article.  We thought together about what makes up a “voice” as writers develop.  “Voice” is framed by Elbow as a rhetorical tool – a writing skill that needs to be considered (applied or withheld) depending on writing context.  Is the goal of teaching writing to develop the self by honing voice?  Or is voice a misleading metaphor?  Perhaps we do not really write, …for we are ultimately written by culture?  When facing these tensions around the concept of voice in writing, Elbow pointed out the problem of either/or thinking which often leads to a “compromise” mandate. (And compromise often becomes problematic way of understanding the complexity of perspective.  The result is often a watered-down middle-of-the-road take away).  Elbow thoughtfully favors both/and thinking.  Thinking that might instead include two opposing perspectives in relief, standing side by side for us to apprehend in stark contrast, in order for us to gather a more depthful understanding of why there might be such distinct/disparate perspectives.  (What a timely reflection to have at this point, no?)

….So what does a deeper dive into modes of thinking have to do with the construction of voice in writing?  The voice-as-self verses the voice-as-role debate illuminates that “voice” is indeed the perfect lens or metaphor for language as both material and historical.  As Jeanne pointed out the fact that Elbow always defines voice from an auditory/aural perspective.  And some of you followed up by sharing insight regarding the embodiment of language.  We know things in our body.  How do we give that kind of knowledge voice….in writing? …and in our lives?  What other ways can we claim “voice” (….other than through the polished act of writing text)?  It is important to take note that we can establish voice with our other senses.  Thank you Jeanne for sharing with us Molly Bartholemew’s work in order for us to think this idea through some more:

To Equity Unbound

From this rich theoretical conversation, we moved on to the #unboundeq public annotation of Lina Mounzer’s  profound article entitled “War in Translation”.  Thank you all for adding to the growing responses and conversation (link below).

What a powerful group read on the heals of our discussion of the embodied voice!  Lina Mounzer’s writing drove home the millions of ways that bearing witness and giving voice (in the act of translation) is a dangerous-but-powerful, burdensome-but-critical act.  I cherish the ways we are weaving together so much beautiful “food for thought” in our small classroom learning community, as well as the global one beyond our classroom’s walls.  As our class continues its journey through Writing Theory & Practice, we are contributing to #unboundeq by illuminating the essential role that writing and storytelling plays in bridging human understanding:

What is up for next week?

  • Please read Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World by Paul Kei Matsuda.  Vee will present on Paul Key Matsuda’s article and the politics of teaching writing in a multilingual world.
  • Write your third blog post, reflecting on both Matsuda’s article as well as any thoughts about the “War in Translation” #unboundeq group annotation. Don’t forget you can tweet it to the #unboundeq hashtag!
  • We will continue with our #unboundeq activities (on the theme of Equity).  For our second half of class, I will choose an activity or two focused on the issue of Equity from the  Equity Unbound suggested activities.

See you next week for more rich conversation and reflection!

Dr. Zamora

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