CCCC 2001 in Review: D Featured Session. Blind Skepticism vs. the Rhetoric of Assent: Implications for Rhetoric, Argument and Teaching

Chair: Sheridan Blau

Wayne Booth and Peter Elbow are two of the field's most important authors when any of us think about what we've read in order to become better writing teachers, but off the page and in person they were not as important and ended up seeming silly and petty. The best way to describe the session is "dueling turtlenecks." It was a little sad to watch these two fine minds get churlish over pronunciations and minor points, especially since they were both trying to find better ways to understand some of pretty important ideas about how our field listens to and accepts its thinking. Both sought to establish some middle ground between skepticism and dogmatism, and both have a lifetime of work based on rhetorical ideas, and both debated how critical thinking affects listening and change. Their good insights and teaching practices were made clear and may be useful, but as the session progressed, Elbow and Booth increasingly quarreled in ways that diminished the points they were trying to make. [WH]

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