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This is an old revision of MorgansCompTheoryNotes26Sept2011 made by MorganAdmin on 2011-10-02 08:08:23.


week 4: how to read a page

epistemic approach
Berlin, James. "Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories." A Sourcebook for Writing Teachers. Ed. Gary Tate and Edward P J Corbett. 3nd ed. New York: OUP, 1982. Print.

Dowst, Kenneth. "The Epistemic Approach: Writing, Knowing, and Learning." Eight Approaches to Teaching Composition. Ed. Timothy R Donovan and Ben W McClelland. Urbana, Il: NCTE, 1980. 65-85. Print.


This section is about testing and rethinking textbook codified concepts and precepts to theorize them. WhT emit calls magical thinking. That students learn only what we teach and only because we teach it.

This reading makes a pretty good model for textual analysis. Explicit in what he's doing. But could use some comments from Sara and Ivory on method.

Builds on discourse centered rhetoric of paragraph. Starts to make observations that traditional concepts of sentence, paragraph blind us to.

Does surveying professional writing provide solid data for his conclusions? The samples Braddock analyzes are are taught in classes as models, yet do not seem to follow the premises or advice given about writing.

Gloss T-units.

Braddock tries to find topic sentences only to discover that the definition isn't as clear as it has been assumed to be to be and is typically presented. Aka "sentence is a thought" makes an unusable definition. The definition is designed for teaching composing and so fails or presents difficulties is being applied.

Note technique: create sentence outline - as teachers recommend. Problems there. Goes with IRR.

In coding, Bradd0ck discovers and names different kinds or strategies of topic sentenes with some notes on form rather than application. Quietly demonstrates that we're missing some significant possible strategies.

Notes in coding that paras don't always follow at the same level of coordination. Some are superordinate to subordinate chains of paragraphs. These relationships are not necessarily signaled by topic sentences. Show on board. And cf what students tend to (are taught to) do with paragraphs: chains of observations at one ordinate level. One para for each topic -

Comments on table 1



Grammar, Grammar, and the Teaching of Grammar. Hartwell

Magical thinkers, alchemists, and scientists

This article opens up the consideration of grammar and with it error (see Shaughenessy) - and develops an analysis and implications based on that analysis. Hartwell's observations are still operative as prescriptive v descriptive approaches in teaching formal grammar.

Start here
Where do you place yourself in the discussion: Do you teach formal grammar as a way of teaching writing? or do something else? v p 208. Do you subscribe to the idea that students must learn the rules before they can break them? - and is it "break"? Do you have any evidence that that is a grounded pedagogical position, or is this idea used for other, non-pedagogical reasons? Control, perhaps. Or to exercise authority. Those who learn the rules are allowed to flaunt them but those who don't are confined to the corner?

Research is not telling us much about the value of teaching grammar for writing development - so Hartwell aims to look into the confusion. He starts by reviewing the work that has been done, and then turns to theorizing about what direction to take in light of what the research tells us - which is not much. Like the rest of the authors in this section, Hartwell is going to be explicit in his terms and definitions because that's where the confusions seem to lay too often.

To get a handle on this, review what characterizes each grammar.
1. Grammar as it exists in heads of native speakers. This comes of untaught languagae acquisition but also seems influenced by literacy (214) - a point which could speak to the case for teaching literacy - reading, at any rate.

2. Grammar as an area of linguistics, creating and testing various models of grammars. There is no relation in the matter of teaching The model to get to performance. Hartwell spends a lot of time in this area because at the time of writing there was a push for applying linguistically discovered rules (regularities found in the language) to teaching - as in the article use flow chart. Discovery that surfaces is that the rules we think we use are inadequate to explain what we do, but they allow us to access internalized rules.

3 - Usage. linguistic étiquette
Hartwell sidesteps this as simply off track: this ain't gramma. But usage and etiquette is often taught as though it were grammar, or in the same category of structureation as grammar. Confusing the teaching of grammar with teaching of usage seems to cause a lot of difficulties with student and administrator confusion about the teaching of writing. Even an informal project to tease out the differences between formal grammar and usage would make in interesting final project.

4. Grammar as used in schools. Incantations that are COIK. These rules are clear and understandable as stated only if the student has already gained the tacit knowledge on which the stated rule is based. Using this grammar is not connected with literate behavior: that is, literate people don't actually follow the strictures and guidelines that the texts present. (The disconnect between what they texts say and actual practice might be a source of the "Learn the Rules before you can Break Them" homily).

5. Stylistic grammar: Strunk and White, Williams, Lynn Tuss, Wired, AP Stylebook, etc. subsets or flavors of stylistic grammars
Romantic - stylistic grammars have little place in teaching comp because students need tl suffer towards meaning. talent. writing as aesthetics.

classic - we can find ways to offer suggestions and curricula to help writers develop a prose style. literacy. writing as functional

very conception of language - but united by method: but both rest on idea that one learns to control the language of print by manipulating meaningful texts in communicative contexts. not by the student of rules of grammar in isolation.

ending with two types of knowledge
broadly rhetorical, involving communication in meaningful contexts
broadly meta-linguistic, involving manipulation of language with attention to surface form
- and this is pointing to composition as material stuff

Coherence, Cohesion, and WRiting Quality
Witte and Faigley

looking at characteristics that we use to evaluate a text highly that cross sentence boundaries - takes us back to rhetoric of paragraph but this time internally.
cohesive ties

distinguish early between cohesion and coherence
latter is a violation of the script - to include only stuff that is important to understanding the message in the context

aim is to see if looking at cohesive ties can be useful - and if so, how. p 247
explaining some theory of cohesive ties -
that is, if you're a teacher and you want to talk sensibly about cohesion, you need to know this stuff. If you aim to diagnose problems in texts and give advice, you need to know this stuff.

this is the kind of implicit knowledge people aquire by reading and writing - this isn't taught directly, but this is the kind of metalinguistic knowledge students need to pick up.

This is what flow looks like when it's considered analytically rather than impressionistically.

they detail a taxonomy of lexical ties

tech writing teacher need to be familiar with it because it can explain how we create meaning or when meaning isn 't working or needs clarification. You might be able to do this on your wits - but not explain it.

part II
they turn to applying the taxonomies to student papers to see if there is a difference in coherence and writing quality-

by looking at papers rated high- and low. they can design cohesion profiles that characterize the writing - the significance is in the profiles, which suggests some problems with invention.

[I'd bet I can find examples of this in student papers, notes, and drafts]
[I'd also argue that this is a reason for requiring notes and lists: to build up the number of different inventional ideas]

they are impressed by the differences, which are sharp, distinct. the results also suggest what writers of high-rated papers tend to do: local rather than distant ties - . While we might look at a paper and say, it's loose, disorganized, confusing, hard to read and get the point, Witte document the differences by looking closely at the internal lexical and semantic structuring.

they take these frequency findings back to skilled writer behaviors / strategies. they are better able to expand and connect ideas - we can see that in the way they use lexical and other ties, whether this is a function of practice or what is not considered -

might need to bring in Christensen and open sentence combining - a couple of workbooks?

Contemporary Composition
what else are you teaching when you teach writing?
May be too early in your career to ask this question, but it came up -

Berlin's analysis uncovers some historical events that help us explain some anomalies you might be seeing in the discipline itself - like the difference between argumentation, exposition, and persuasion (grounded in faculty psychology, each appeals to understanding and emotion).

State of the discipline 1980
Surveys the discipline as of 1980 to see what patterns he can see -
Very careful to ground his analysis in historical terms and concepts, and to state his position: New Rhet is the most practical approach - but no matter: writing teaching need to be fully aware of the significance of their pedagogical strategies - at the very least, offering contradictory advice about composing - at the most significant, because we are teaching versions of realities and the students place and ways of operating in that reality.

The texts that Berlin quotes from and mentions are most all classic rhetorical texts - those that had been taught as fundamental, as articulating the general knowledge of the disciplines -

Different conceptions of pedagogy are grounded in different rhetorical theories - and are grounded in the way writer, audience, reality, language are conceived - and how they inter-relate.

That is, there are different sets of preconceptions and assumptions about language, the world, knowledge ... that shape and ground our teaching of writing - and students' learning of writing.

Approach might be to explicate
role of teacher in this approach
status of knowledge

To teach writing is to argue for a version of reality and to argue for the best way to know reality and to communicate it.

as we work with this, understand that Berlin is analyzing how writing is taught, mainly in in university exposition courses - Most if not all of your creative writing courses fall into expressionist approaches. But that doesn't mean that that approach is appropriate fort the FY classroom. We are teaching in a larger context of a state social institution. If, as a writing teacher, you teach more than just writing, you need to be sensitive to, aware of, responsible for, the other things you teach.

The difference and similarities fall into groups
New Rhetoricians

writer - audience - reality - language are related to form a distinct world construct - an epistemic complex - with distinct rules for discovering and communicating knowledge.

Classicist - Neo-Aristotelians
world exists independently - and our minds our constructed so to understand the world and its rules. Reality can be known and communicated. Truth is a matter of performing in conformance with logic. - with language an unproblematic medium. Both word and thing referred to are part of thought - Dialectic is the way to discover knowledge in learned discourse. Rhetoric the way to address probabilistic realms. Emphasis on invention leads to subordination on arrangement and style - view of language is that the word is an isolatable unit of meaning and that structuring them into sentences creates combinatory meaning

this leads today to

Current-Traditional or Positivist
Aristotle through common sense realism - induction rather than deduction, individual sense impression provides the basis for all knowledge. the world is rational, but its logic is discovered through scientific / experimental method. Rhetoric becomes the study of all forms of communication - not just one branch - BUT rhetoric does not deal with invention anymore. Truth is discovered outside of rhetoric - experimental method, study in a discipline, genius - and rhetoric deals with how to communicate that pre-existant truth: how to adapt discourse to hearers. When we are freed of biases, senses provide mental facilities with a clear image of the world. College writing is to be concerned with communicating the truth that is certain and empirically verifiable - not probable. Right - wrong - or it falls into the realm of opinion, which is outside rhetoric.

[might be interested in how they argue against or for Berlin's perspective -

para on appeals to faculties
see how argumentation is distinguished from persuasion: by way of mental faculties. Persuasion is special, making an appear to the will. Argumentation appeals to understanding, esp along disciplinary lines.

expressionist -
developed in response to CTR. Careful here: this is not romantic expressionism -
truth is discovered through internal apprehension - all writing and knowing are personal - but cannot be communicated. truth - not writing, but truth - can be learned but not taught. Rhetoric becomes the correction of error, removal that which obscurers the inner vision. Method is dialectic, disruptive. This is a difficult view of language - truth is beyond the resources of language - but language can speak analogically of truth. Personal truths: true to the expression of self. true to feeling of experience. Some of this is hackneyed, but more generally, the approach places a Self (often plural) at the center of communication - not the other, not balanced with other, but at the center. Plato argued for transcendent Truth. Expressionist place claims on personal truth - that doesn't necessarily transcend the personal. Solepcism.

Classroom procedures: provide place to learn rather than be taught. relies on analogical method

The emphasis on dialogue is not aimed at communicating or adjusting the message to make it communicable. that would be a violation of the self (Charles). the others are at the service of the writer: they are there to help the writer get rid of what's insincere and false to the writer's personal, incommunicable sense of things.

So: an emphasis on using metaphor to break away from these false ideas: telling writing, etc. Language doesn't refer to shared concepts. to present truth (internal, personal, original) relies on original metaphors to capture what is unique.

Caveat: Just because you see someone using groups doesn't mean they are doing expressionist stuff.
Caveat: all writers are creative writers. this erases any epistemic and methodological difference between poet and first-year student. the only difference is in the forms you use.

New Rhetoric aka social epistemic approach
what the first 3 share: knowledge is a commodity situated in a permanent location, a repository that the individual goes to for enlightenment. New Rhet: knowledge is dynamic and dialectical, the result of a shifting process of synthesis of opposing elements. That relation is created, not pre-existing. The elements are those embedded in the communicative situation: writer, audience, reality, language. Truth and knowledge is always knowledge for someone standing in a particular relationship in a circumscribed situation. writer - audience - reality - language are the things we use to shape knowledge.

There is no knowledge apart from that which can be articulated. And until you can articulate it, you don't really know it.

perception is active, not mere reception. and language is the medium by which we put the phenomena of the world together so it make sense. Language is prior to truth and determines or influences the shapes truth can take. Language is what we use to shape the world, decide what will be perceived and not, what will have meaning and what won't. But those choices are social - not strictly individual: truths and knowledge are operable only within a universe of discourse - and that universe is shaped by all the elements, including audience.

the writer
CTR: efface yourself to focus on empirical and rational information
Expressionist: writer is the center of the act - but cut off from all. Can only shape her limited view and sense of things.
Social Epistemic: writer is a creator of meaning, shaper of reality. learning to write is learning to make words behave the way you want them to behave. It's a matter of learning to make meaning. we are all writers.

Social-Epistemic - one of the more comprehensive views. Draws in invention as heuristics, arrangement and style are part of meaning and so ay the center of invention. Looks at how contemporary observers have done things - and places an emphasis on method: heuristics
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