Re: Reassessing our practices

Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Tue, 13 Feb 1996 12:10:13 -0500

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Bob King wrote (in part):

> issues of essay writing and power. But if our students could
> write like Foucault, Spivak [insert your favorite essayist here], all
> powerful and further up the totem pole than we are, then we would value
> their work. Go figure. C'mon folks, let's just say there are
> connections between anything and power -- let's go at least that far. If
> it makes you feel any better, Foucault would go along with this idea! :)
Oh, of course-- power and knowledge, etc., etc. But what I'm getting at
is the _form_-- the traditional "essay"-- doesn't in and of itself seem
to hold any real power. This is the problem of composition studies (as
has been noted by tons of people much smarter than me for 35 or 40 or
more years): it's not the _form_ we should be focusing on per se, but the
content. Sure, these aren't easily divided into distinct categories, but
I think most writing courses assume that they are and, because of
tradition, because of outside presures, because of ease, most composition
courses focus on the form at the expense of content, IMO. In other
words, the idea that learning how to write a "narrative" essay or an
"argumentative" essay or an essay that "defines" something or whatever
will "empower" students in their further college pursuits or in the real
world seems to me to be far fetched.

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
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