Re: Reassessing our practices

Tue, 13 Feb 1996 18:21:48 -0500

On Tue, 13 Feb 1996, Steve Krause wrote:

> 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.

I couldn't agree with you more, Steve. But isn't it ironic that even
though we start focusing on "content" rather than "form," the "form" still
ends up being the essay (some kind of EDNA or EDNA hybrid). We have our
students work on getting that content up to snuff and then have them stuff
it into an essay. "Snuff-n-Stuff" -- I like that!