Re: otherwor(l)ds

David J. Coogan (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 17:31:18 -0600

Pete --

What a thoughtful outburst! I, too, wrestle with our common language.
Critical thinking is one of those collegiality words, like "close reading
of the text" or "active learning" that, to paraphrase James Brown . . .
"That's talking loud -- and sayin nothin."

To me, the value of these terms, like "process movement" is in the
collegiality. They give us something--a mantra-like chant, I
suppose--that reflects, distantly, a shadow of something meaningful: they
connect vaguely enough to some research and, as you say, they allow us
to stop really thinking about what we do. And therin lies the danger of

Maybe I'm drifting too far afield from your original message, but I
thought you were questioning the dangers of default logics, especially as
they play out in discourse, in genre, and so on. I just . . . well, it
seems to me that those words represent layers of historical conflict,
political struggle, and tenuous alliances --that we use them, sometimes
begrudgingly, in order to function in the institutional space, to get
things done.

Yet sometimes that space disallows what should be done. Hence the rise of
new terms: deconstruction, cultural studies, postmodern, hegemony,
feminist, and so on. Resistance to the new default mode is always
interesting to me because it seems to force the issue: what DO these terms
represent? and why DO these terms seem incongruent with the old terms?





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