Morgan's Comp Theory Notes of 19 Sept 2011


Imagine a FYC course based on each of these - Kinneavy, D'Angelo, Britton, Rodgers. What gets taught, how? What texts? What do students do in such a classroom? What do you do? What gets written? What do you do with the writing? What do students do with the writing?

Kinneavy, The Basic Aims of Discourse

How do we divide up writing so that we can specify what we're teaching? Expository v lit genres? The essay is a genre - but that doesn't tell us enough to teach it.

Kinneavy seeks to come at the same question by asking about the aims of discourse. D'Angelo gives another, Britton a third.

​The over riding question of the week is how to systematically classify discourse - since that is what we are teaching and not being clear what that is creates a problem for us, for students, for those who will influence us, for those who will control the teaching enterprise politically and financially.

For Kinneavy, an aim = the effect the discourse is oriented to achieve in the listener or reader for whom it is intended, as that intent is embodied in the text. Generic aims listed.

Composing is fulfilling an aim.
Why determine aim?
​Usual warnings about determining aim. Mind the intentional and the affective fallacies. Both not to use intent nor response. But not to ignore them, either. 130-1

Chart: Aims as they have been classified in the past. all cultural

Method: Kinneavy has to show he's done a historical review of taxonomies in order to gain cred and also to show where those other orders fit in relation to his.

​K creates his categories by focusing on the dominant component. This creates a tidy model, mostly. But as different analysits would place a text in more than one place, it's a little weak.

Also: The placement is not absolute but a function of reading as much as writing. It's good in that it demands we look at context however. Sim addresses or works w/in context, not in the work itself.

Start with Kinneavy's end: to argue that no comp program can afford to neglect any of the basic aims. That is, to focus on only one or two or three basic aims is to short change. we can see some of the problems he's talking about are still around (137). He's using it as a normative schema, implicitly arguing that if we deal with all of these, discourse will find its rightful place and remain pure. Lit untainted by persuasion, for instance. expressionism untainted by audience

Focus on diagram p 13X
He has a rationale here: attach each kind of discourse to an emphasis on an element in the rhetorical situation - sort of.

test Kinneavy's schema

place memoirs - and elucidate reasons for placing it
student essay - as we intend it to be written
student essay - as written
student essay draft - the idea is that a draft my fulfill the aims of the incorrect place
works created by Charles's principle to ignore audience -
a set of tweets -
BSU home page

We can use K's model as normative - a way of coming into agreement about a work. This is how it is used sometimes.
We can use it as heuristic/diagnostic - a way of figuring out a problem and explaining it.

The window metaphor of language is weak at root. Has to be qualified. 136. We cannot see through language to a reality. It is always mediated.

We can see these models as models - and as such attempts to validate ideologies. It's similar to what assessment puts forward, what BOt puts forward - and no more valid.

But it might rest on unwarranted premises concerning language.

D'angelo, Ontology

Ontology is a kind of manifesto for D's version of a new rhet focused on composing. His book 1975 leads to these theses.

D'Angelo makes a return to process. This time as a teleological move towards a differentiated whole. Directed by a consciousness. Rhetoric becomes a guide to this movement.

A modern theory of composition can be founded on an teleological evolutionary theory of a movement from chaos to order, undifferentiated mass to refined wholes.

D. Is an old school platonic idealist. Writing exists in the mind and is realized in action. Essentialist. He's also a formalist and brings formalist lit theory to analysis of texts - but he isn't really working with student texts. He's driving formalism into process, to see process as a formalizing process.

Composing is a Movement from undifferentiated sense of whole towards a realization of that sense in differentiated object made up of parts. Progression is from the homogenous towards the differentiated, the comp.ex, the more perfect, by way of teleological purpose.

It's a one way process, that doesn't backtrack. At least the MENTAL processes don't. They develop forward towards complexity even if the physical processes never backtrack. Process is linear, developmental. Once a stage has been reached, one no longer has to pass through it again.

Much of the basis for this has been abandoned as just one master narrative that doesn't really explain things. Teleology has been bracketed. We see that things can become differentiated w/o a teleological design. We do chaos theory now. But there are ways of understanding the theory that make sense of it. Mechanism of evolution is one of trial and error, however, not of intent. So, function of rhet, and so a comp course, is to guide individuals towards unity, to induce cooperation.

Evokes Jung via archetypes. But this is no more mystical than a lot of ideas towards composing based on talent and inspiration or passion. Narratives of early encounters with books leading to love of language , and ever more differentiated sense of composing. D'A gives us a sense of how much a narrative this is rather than a theory that develops sound principles. It doesn't explain. Has little explanatory power.

Wants to see even the theory of Vygogsky as modeled on an evolutionary model.

This is an early response to the threat of post-modernism.

This is creationism.

What do we do with him? He ends with Burke's position on rhetoric. He sees the paragraph as an evolving form.

Cf Murray and the concern that students learning to write must follow conventions as laid down by society. D argues that form will emerge from chaos regardless. That is the way of nature. The movement is developmental, teleological. A drive towards making sense. The new rhetorician can guide this movement, perhaps hasten it, but it's built in. As learning to speak, so learning to write is learning more and more deftly to differentiate, to form.

In conceptual theory, chap VI, for instance, he develops some paradigmatic and syntagmatic methods for analyzing paragraphs for structure. He defines some logical and nonlogical patterns of arrangement that he also argues are inherent in the mind. This is important because he's moving towards descriptive analysis rather than prescriptive pedagogy.

Refer to D'Angelo, Conceptual Theory, Chap VIII

Britton, Spectator Role

​D'Angelo focuses on teleology. B focuses on developmental models. Seek the understanding in the child's development. The origin is the purest form. Similar to D'A in that the movement is supposed to be from undifferentiated to organized.

Mainly focused on children development towards mastery of written language - reading and writing. But touches in our concerns w distinctions of transactional - expressive - poetic functions of language, which B argues are mastered at a young age.

By this tine, you might be of the mind "What are these theories of discourse for? what can this tell us about anything? What use is it?"

Might start by gridding out the three functions and the two roles to get a handle on Britton's model. p 158: reviews his work with the Development project and three functions and two extremes of roles.

leads to the idea of placing expressive writing in these continuums. p 159

type/function role formality who for?
transactional -get things done participant
expressive - neutral point
poetic - making rather than doing spectator

Important for this

If nothing else, Britton is more closely defining terms such as expressive, transactional, and poetic discourse, and these definitions - technical defs - are the ones that comp theory people tend to use rather than dictionary o street or ideolectic definitions.

You might not be familiar with all the aspects a theory of comp entails - how much more there is to learn and study. It isn't the study of a comfortable finite field that you can master in a couple of classes. These readings are background readings into what's been done so far, and that any competent teacher of writing will be familiar with if not expert in. These define the space you work in - whether you know it or acknowledge it.

Focus on teaching: Consider how Britton's distinctions apply not to your work as authors but our work as teachers of FYC - of non-fiction, non-literary writing - which is what we're here for. might take your finite experience with your writing as a starting point to see if distiguishihng the use of this is valuable but extend that into the teaching enterprise.

Opening paragraph defines the agenda for the readings of this week: we have no satisfactory theory to account for what is common and how they are distinguish lit from non-lit discourse

Mere features (formalism) won't help us here: both types of writing share those features.

Britton wants to bring in roles to help make the distinction
spectator and participant roles.

We have no difficulty in practice making a distinction between a poem with a political bent, and a political speech, but trying to nail it to the wall is difficult.

The distinction that matters is not whether the events are true or not but whether that are recournted or listened to as spectators or participants. as spectator, we are in the position of reading or writing literature.

The distinction is how we pay attention to / recount the prose - as a spectator or participant.

> writer places signals in the prose in context that reader must interpret as such.

Framework is psych rather than meaning-making / semiology.

Role of gossip, or standing in HAVE BEEN a participant and are now recounting as spectator. 156. A way of testing out ways of evaluating what happened w others. As spectators we GENERATE AND REFUNE our value system.

> the model is face to face social interaction, some interpersonal but some more broadly social, and the psychological states and effects that Harding and Britton don't substantiate but expect us to verify as commonly experienced and common sense.

Spectator position is articulated on continuum from

poetic. 158

The spectator rather than participant role is valorized for purposes of learning. Why: expensive, social, as a recounting seen in whole. Etc.

​Expressive function. It is not a matter of informal prose but a matter of self-identification. Profits from being in between a verbal transaction and a verbal object to be shared. In expressive writing, the togetherness is simulated by invoking presences.

> Again, basis for reasoning and model is linguistic code and context and the extent to which written confirms to or departs from.

Contextualization. We read transactional prose by contextualizing how it fits OUR contexts, piecemeal. We read poetic by contextualizing the work as a poetic object. 162

The participant role is seems to a rhetorical positioning as it applies to a situation that can be changed by rhetoric. The spectator role seems to define the situatioon as unchangeable or at least without exigence: no need to change. But Harding and Britton argue that there is an exegence in each

Also want to see if these distinctions will help us read and understand if not evaluated student work, both in progress and complete.

The case study of Clare. Offered as evidence for spectator position as one of storytelling. Reflection. Leads to one main point: that this learning to play with language is learning the spectator role. Play activities with language are spectator role activities. In drafting this, he's following Piaget and Bruner - experienced readers know this and so Britton doesn't explain it. Britton is also following long lead of psychological study that rests its validity on development of children: Piaget, Vygotsky, Murray, Bruner ...

Extending Vygotsky, in that writing is grounded in speed but wants to bring in other elements and activities. Play, drawing, behavior. But statement 169 that story makes fewer demands than transactional writing may not be valid for our use. The idea being that we start teaching w narrative and move towards transactional.

p 169: discuss: reading and writing a story makes fewer demands on writer and reader.

By the same token, a bit of lore in teaching says start with narrative because that's where students are - it's easier for students, whatecer that neans - perhaps it's because it's play, perhaps because students already have the paradigm for it. Move towards exposition. Or, start with writing that engages the spectator role and move towards the participant role.

Or, another way, is to see that students are already adept at spectator but their courses and success demands that they master participant roles. As they are already adept at one, why not shift roles?

Or, another way: We can devise writing assignments to engage the spectator and move towards the participant.

Might look at papers from CWII to see if narrative shows spectator v participant role signals.

Paul Rodgers

Rhetoric of the Paragraph

Discourse-centered rhetoric rather than a paragraph-centered rhetoric of the paragraph. 178

Significant moment is understanding that the emphasis is not on how the unit of the paragraph is made up or how it works internally, but that we should look at why discourse is indented at particular places.

If, as the handbooks declare, a paragraph represents a "distinct unit of thought," why is it that we can't recognize a unit of thought when we see one? If every paragraph contains an iden- tifiable topic sentence, then why don't all of us identify the same topic sentence? If good paragraphs are really compositions in miniature, why do some of us, given a passage not marked off into paragraphs, find in it two mini-compositions, while others find three or four or five? from Stern, when is a paragraph

This starts a movement towards looking at some features of composition and how they are theorized and taught - mainly with an eye to re-thinking them. Grammar, coherence, etc.

Illustrates how Rules are created and disseminated, often wrong rules. How uninformed even the big names can be. Bain, Strunk. How such an inductive and piecemeal deductive mess can pass for knowledge and practice.

And so your responsibility not to knowingly propagate the mess as gospel. And R work is an example of how to proceed. Introduces rhetoric back into the game in concepts and in method. Demonstrates what Rhetoric can tell us about discourse.

We need, says r, a flexible, open-ended discourse centered rhetoric of the paragraph.

Para is visual punctuation of a larger chunk of text than a sentence.

The rest of the article is working out such an idea.

R is good in confining his deductions to what we find in prose rather than what we imagine in process. Not basing paragraphing on cognitive movement but on visually marking off as a stadia. 180.

The turn R makes is to demonstrate how analysis can and must proceed. What a para CAN be rather than what it MUST be. The movement from prescription to description. The recognition that it's more complex than we suspect, and so must be taught that way. Even at the freshman level.

Start by marking paragraphs in a student work - then ask for the rationales. Point is to show that our conception of a paragraph is more that of Rodgers than that of internal coherence.

Reminding us that the paragraph is not a naturalized from - any more than a written sentence is. That's why a sentence is not a thought. And taking a look at advice and guidance in writing, starting at the para level.

The article is a critique of the loose, impressionistic way of talking about and teaching elements of writing, such as paragraphs
flow - how will you measure and define the current?
if a paragraph start can be found nearly anywhere in sophisticated prose, then how to you justify or challenge a choice?

The state of knowledge for many of the shibboleths were called into question in the late 1960s - as here

States: rhetoric's task is to understand why indentations occur as they do - not to assign a formula for governing the unit or sentences between the breaks. Rather than defining a para by wheat it contains or how it is structured, define it as a unit inside a larger discourse and consider how it functions as such.

The paragraph is a punctuation device - an emphatic one. All we can say is that the writer has marked off this chunk of text as a stadia: point completed, rest, now comes a turn ...
Paragraphing, Rodgers here suggests, is governed by rhetorical choice rather than by logical or grammatical rule. Like the structure of a sentence or that of a fully- developed essay, the structure of a para- graph arises out of an ethos and a pathos as well as out of a logos-out of the writer's personality and his perception of his reader as well as out of his perception of the structure of his subject-matter. The logic and "grammar" of a given paragraph are conditioned-sometimes -

In sum, today's paragraph is not a logical unit and we should stop telling our students it is. It does not necessarily begin with a topic sentence; it does not necessarily "handle and exhaust a distinct topic," as the textbooks say it must do. It is not a composition-in-miniature, either -it is not an independent, self-contained whole but a functioning part of dis- course; its boundaries are not sealed but open to the surrounding text; it links as often as it divides. Shaped by the writer's individual style and by the reader's ex- pectations as well as by the logic of the subject-matter -

This idea should challendge much of what we're taught in HS about paragraphs - but it doesn't because the paragraph is taught as a piece of lego: a unit to create and stack with other legos to make an essay.

True: Indentation sometimes marks major points of topical emphasis - but nothing in the prose obligates a writer to do so. Many are logical stadia.

When seen as stadia, we can now isolate collections of sentences for students and give advice -

That is, we can start to see the paragraph as a manageable unit - a unit that we can isolate and manage internally and in relation to other units - as Rodgers illustrates in his analysis of Pater, showing how Pater manages movement and how his reasoning is presented. hows how Pater can bridge logical a stadium across indentations and how he can draw together stadia as one paragraph.

additional readings

Kinneavy, James L. A Theory of Discourse. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1971. Print.

D'Angelo Frank J. A Conceptual Theory of Rhetoric. MA: Winthrop publishers, 1975.

Elbow, Peter. "Closing My Eyes As I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience." CE 49 (1987): 50-69.

Stern, Arthur. "When Is a Paragraph?" In The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook. Gary Tate, and Edward P J Corbett, eds. New York: Oup, 1981.

Simons, Herbert W. ed The Rhetorical Turn. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1990.

Nelson, John S, Allan Megill, and Donald N McCloskey. The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences: Language and Argument in Scholarship and Public Affairs. Madison: U of WIsconson Press, 1987. 3-18. Print.

There are no comments on this page.
Valid XHTML :: Valid CSS: :: Powered by WikkaWiki