The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

A How-To Tale

“Inventing the University” Precis August 26, 2008

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 7:44 pm
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David Bartholomae

“The academy” can be a very difficult thing to conceptualize.  There are so many different discourses and, essentially, languages and any student coming into the university must realize there.  There is no question that they do; however, it is hard from them to “invent the university” in their writing, i.e. to write as though they are authorities on the subject and capable of using the syntax and jargon of the field.  There is little discussion or instruction on how they are to go about learning to write at this level.  Instead, there is a insufficient emphasis on grammar (which in many cases may not be the problem at all!) and on writing to audiences that will never be relevant.  They do not need to write as though they were a teacher or a parent, talking down to their student or child, but rather as an equal – someone who knows something worth sharing, even if he may not know more on the subject than the person with whom he is sharing it.  This article continues to look through many examples of entry-level students’ writing to analyze and demonstrate the ways in which they try to “invent the university” and how they succeed or fail in doing so.  


“Playing the Role to Being Yourself: Becoming the Teacher in the Writing Classroom” Precis

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 2:25 pm
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Dawn Skorczewski

Each and every teacher has qualms going into the first days (or even weeks!) of teaching.  Drawn from personal experiences and stories of acquaintances, this chapter takes a look at what we, as teachers in the writing classroom, can do to overcome those feelings of being a fish out of water.  It is extremely beneficial simply to know that we are not alone!

The important first step is to recognize the fear we have and then to acknowledge it.  That will help, in turn, as we establish our emotions in reaction to our students and their emotions in reaction to us.  Next, we must find a way to act on those reactions.  This is where something frustrating becomes something fruitful, something affronting becomes an analytical look into the whys and wherefores of the class structure.  It is channeling these negative emotions into something that positively benefits and drives the class as a whole that is the key to stepping into the role of teacher.  There must be a balance of looking inwardly at our emotions and then outwardly regenerating them.  When this equilibrium is achieved, the result is a more open and honest mode of communication with the students, as it allows us to be ourselves and dispatch any feelings that we might be having.


“Clueless in Academe” Precis

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 2:24 pm
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Gerald Graff

Students are often clueless as to what to do when they enter college.  Intellectually, that is.  Academia seems to try to mask everything they do and talk about in secrecy, using jargon and other things that are not easily accessible to new students.  These students are not being prepared well in high school, but that is also the fault of the colleges not passing the information down to them.  Overall, students need to be able to listen to ideas, reiterate what they are and then argue about them.  This enables them to have a public persona, to be able to converse and discuss and have an opinion about whatever. 

These “arguments” are to help discover different points of view and see how those points of view effect your own.  Too often professors do not clarify this and students would rather sit in silence than seem silly or appear foolish in any way.  They listen to the ideas, but when they are not able to repeat them, enlarge on them and in a sense teach them, it becomes that much harder to actually learn them themselves. 

The students are done a disservice in more ways than one.  Many times they are left with feelings of disinterest or seeing the material as irrelevant.  Professors aggravate by doing several things:  making problems where no problems (should) exist, encouraging students go argue for something that could just as easily be argued another way, not assisting students in seeing that argumentation is not necessarily aggressive and allowing students to not elaborating on their ideas and discussions, nor having them reiterate their peers’ ideas in their own work.  It is time to evaluate how the academia presents itself to its students and think about helping all of them, not just the ones that can muddle through on their own.


“A Brief History of Rhetoric and Composition” Precis

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 2:23 pm
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bartholomae-inventingThe Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing

Rhetoric and composition are finally coming back into their own.  The study of rhetoric first began with the ancient Greeks:  the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle.  Rhetorical studies were then centered around giving speeches using a five-step process, including invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery.  As the years passed on, the latter two fell by the wayside, with the main focus on the first three, but most especially on style.  The Scottish rhetoricians emphasized that style, if it was correct and compelling, would not only make a persuasive speech, but also showcase the speaker’s virtuous nature. 

As rhetorical studies moved to the United States, style remained at the head and the use of rhetoric was shifted to writing.  Eventually, however, most English studies focused on literature, and rhetoric all but disappeared for a time.  It was into the twentieth century before colleges began expanding their composition courses.  Discontent with writing only about literature, they viewed composition as a way to understand text better, by responding to it.  Following it, rhetorical studies ultimately found their way back into the classroom, as colleges emphasized the writing process, which was very like the classic Greek style. 

In the past four decades or so, many different issues have problemitized the ideas of rhetoric and composition, including women’s studies, language differences with ESL students and even regional dialects, a push for writing across the disciplines and new technologies such as the Internet.  Each of these has attempted to work their way into the studies of rhetoric and composition. As it is, these tracks are made up of very diverse and varied interests, and provide to students a real-life productive example of English Studies at work.


Hmmm… August 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — deduvick @ 9:15 pm

I need to look at my Xanga site and see if you can do Pages.  I don’t actually know, since I haven’t been on it for awhile.  They keep sending me emails saying “We miss you” and “Please come back and visit us.”  So maybe I will now!