Re: Reassessing our practices

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 14:38:17 -0600

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Michael Hamende wrote:
> But isn't the "essay" the rhetoric device by which knowledge gets
> forwarded in the academy?

Used to be. But it lost its exclusive franchise when academic email lists
and newsgroups and now moos began to proliferate and attract some of the
top scholars. New rhetorical devices are gaining ground against the good
old essay.

Those at the top of the chain now used the essay published in print to
get where they are, but I'll bet the top scholars of the early 21st
century will get there by yakking on the net.

> And then isn't it the thinking of those thinkers at the top (research)
> that business uses to develop the capital to control the system and
> retain the factory model?

Sure. But if social inertia was unassailable, we'd still be communicating
by grunts, squeals, and witty whacks upon the old bean. The shift will
happen because not *everybody* in power is interested only in supporting
the status quo.

> So isn't the device useful to whomever might apply it? In whatever
> context they choose? If its good enough for [insert your favorite
> theorist here], isn't it valuable enough for the freshperson? And
> important enough for us to teach?

Sure the essay is important enough to teach, Mike. It's just not
important enough to dominate our classes, our discourse, or rhetoric, our
thoughts, our political system. It's not being discarded (I think Beth
has made this point on occasion), it's just being repositioned.

--Eric Crump