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CASLL-L  March 2008

CASLL-L March 2008

Subject:

Re: University Affairs article on writing at universities

From:

Susan Drain <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CASLL/Inkshed <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 12:44:02 -0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (46 lines)

Two things:

1. Okay, I'm working on a draft.  Give me a little time to process the ideas.

2. Rob Irish writes:

>"The audience chose this topic for his session, and made a number of useful suggestions for modifying it."

>Is this writer trying to dodge responsibility by pointing out that others are as ill-informed as he is? Such claims cast aspersions on democracy. 

The note, I suspect, is not so much an attempt to dodge responsibility as to acknowledge collaboration.  

It might be useful to understand WHIPS a bit more.  Write Here in Plain Sight is Sunny Marche's response to his observation that much learning is tacit and better acquired through observation.  He notes that much writing takes place privately and that many writers don't get a chance to observe others' writing-in-the-act.  Therefore, he claims, most writers don't know what happens when writing happens. (See Note below)  It has been suggested to him that writing folks (rhetoricians, compositionists, Inkshedders) do in fact know a great deal about what happens when "writing" happens, and that perhaps he is conflating a number of different processes under the one term.   He remains convinced, however, that students will learn something about writing by watching real people writing.  So he recruits individuals who are willing to write in public, using computers and projectors, and most of them bring projects that they are already working on whether or not they have actually begun drafting.  He likes to let his audience choose a project for him to do right in front of them, so he might (I don't know, I wasn't there) have said, "One thing I've been thinking about doing is an opinion piece about who cares about teaching writing at universities" -- and that's what the audience voted for.   The audience consists of students and grad students, some faculty and community members, and I guess they said their $ 0.02 worth.  

Note: He likes to begin presentations on WHIPS  by playing Monty Python's skit on Thomas Hardy writing the first page of one of the Wessex novels, in which a pair of sports commentators describe the action and make "colour commentary."  

To be fair, the comments he gets from those who attend affirm the value of the project in their eyes.  They are reassured that writing is a messy, difficult, non-linear process, and so if nothing else, it demonstrates the foolishness of the idea that a good writer is one whose first draft  is her last draft.

 
Cheers
Susan



Susan Drain, PhD
Department of English
Mount Saint Vincent University
Halifax, NS Canada  B3M 2J6
902 457 6220
[log in to unmask]



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