Re: Reassessing our practices

Marcy Bauman (marcyb@UMD.UMICH.EDU)
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 15:49:32 -0500

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Michael Hamende wrote:

> But isn't the "essay" the rhetoric device by which knowledge gets
> forwarded in the academy? Don't those at the top of the chain, use it
> to make their reputations? Earn their bucks? Get tenure? Get to the
> top?
> 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?
> 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?

I'd say that the problem isn't so much with the essay itself, but
with the contexts in which it is taught. I don't agree that essays are
by nature monologic; I do think, though, that when they are held up as
Examples, when they are not chosen by students because the students care
to read them for their own purposes, and when the writing of them results
in a pile of papers that go to the teacher's desk and nowhere else, they
are _treated_ as if they were monologic.

We could do the same thing to e-mail if we made everybody write
only to the teacher, who never answered but only graded the posts.


Marcy Bauman
Writing Program
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128