Re: Reassessing our practices

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Tue, 13 Feb 1996 15:14:35 -0500

On Tue, 13 Feb 1996, Steve Krause wrote (in part, in relation to essays
and power):

> 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.

Do you think that other _forms_, such as particular genres
of TV show such as the sitcom or the network news, or a particular genre of
video game, hold *any* real "power" in virtue of their form (for me
"power" here defined as the ability to define reality in specific and
particular ways according to particular interests and values)? Are
forms, for you, completely innocent or blank, waiting to be filled in?
My perception is that any medium or genre -- including listserv
discussion -- has it's particular ways of defining reality. It is still
extraordinary to me that this is a discussion largely about whether this
is likely to be the case rather than in what ways or to what extent this is
likely to be the case!

> not the _form_ we should be focusing on per se, but the
> content.

As others have suggested, why not consider form *and* content.
The proposition that form hasn't *any* power seems to be indefensible.
The proposition that content hasn't *any* power likewise seems
indefensible. Therefore maybe we can talk about the ways form has
power, and the ways content has power. Maybe I've overstated the case of
form-as-power in some of my posts, and maybe that has resulted in some of
you feeling the need to overstate the case of content-as-power. I guess
the starting point for this particular thread for me was the notion of
"reassessing practices" -- what teachers do, such as assign essays or
listserv writing (for me a matter of form), not necessarily what they
say (for me a matter of content).

Bob King