Re: Re[8]: Reassessing our practices

Fri, 16 Feb 1996 07:14:50 -0500

On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, Eugene Ortiz wrote:

> Dialogue is good. Some would argue that this is not "real" dialogue.

Some probably would argue that and could surely make a case. It remains
for me *more* of a dialogue, however, than writing an essay. I'll
qualify my use of "dialogue/multilogue" for future reference: this
is dialogical (listserv conversation & other electronic exchanges)
because more than one person contributes to the unfolding of meaning
in a response-able way. In dialogue, you get response; you responde
in turn.

> I agree, but my concern would be that we might have a tendency to lose
> track of past discoveries. I mean, one of the advantages of having journals
> to look at is that it forces you to keep up with what is and has been done
> so you know what needs to be looked at. While we have archives available --
> I have a huge stack of disks on my desk of past e-mail posts that have come
> to me the past few years -- not all of us have the ready access as others.
> My guess is that will change in time. For example, in a modern library,
> should there be cyber-archives of Rhetnt-l and other electronic journals
> that anyone can do a keyword search on the way we can for the traditional
> publications?

Again I reiterate that I'm not arguing in favor of dispensing with
traditional print publishing or with essay-writing in our classrooms. I
emphasize that what I *am* arguing for is re-placing it. That is, that
its *place* should no longer be the central focus/method of our practice.

But, regarding libraries and archives, etc. I think they will go
increasingly electronic. Electronic journals and texts are already
available in libraries. I think that much will be "saved" for future
reference on CDs, especially as the world ends up with more information
than it has nuclear waste.

> I have no doubts about "polyvocality" as a good thing, but this goes back
> to the question of the purpose of the essay.

And here we return to a foundational question: what is the purpose of
our teaching rhet/comp? If our purpose is to teach students how
to survive and advance in the academic "club" -- to move up
the academic hierarchy as it is now -- or to succeed in their other
classes where they will be expected to write those "term papers,"
then that's one thing. It seems to me that our purpose is not
generally that simple. It seems to me that we're teaching writing
as a vehicle for teaching rhetoric and the essay no longer seems
an adequate method for so do, IMO.

I'm enjoying this conversation. I apologize for having to contribute
little right now b/c of other work commitments.

Beth Baldwin