Nick Carbone (nickc@MARLBORO.EDU)
Thu, 8 Aug 1996 12:49:51 -0400

Following this thread religiously has got me thinking, expecially with the
mention of Tillich who, in the _Dynamics of Faith_wrote that one
definition for God is 'ultimate reality,' or whatever a person believes
to be their ultimate reality, has got me to thinking....

Maybe I'll ask each student to bring in a religious text of their choice,
whether from a holy book (Bible, Koran) or teachings of a philosopher
they find that gives them religious or personal guidance. Then I'll ask
them to write their interpretation of the piece. They'll do it once,
just using their own wits and habits. I want to see this version to get
a sense of their dogmaticity. We've all noticed that first year students
come into classes and often write very opiniated essays that brook no
deviance or questioning of their premises or principles. So I figure
their interpretations, or exegiseseseseses, might reflect that, what they
are predisposed to.

Then I'll ask them to swap essays and have their peers read it by asking
the seven questions appended below.

Then I'll ask them to redo the interpretation of the passage using the
seven questions.

Course, as with most ideas, not much may come of it, but it should be fun
to see if students will take a rhetorical look at religious writing.

Thanks to all for solving my what to do in the first week dilemma. Talk
about your deus ex e-machina !

Nick Carbone, Writing Instructor
Marlboro College
Marlboro, VT 05344

Lee Odell presented the questions as part of a workshop he lead at
Wellesley. Here are the questions:

1. Do writers understand their audience?
Can they identify salient features of what their audience knows, values
and needs?
Do their choice (of language, content, organization) seem
appropriate for their audience?

2. Have they explored their topics in ways that make sense for audience?

3. Does the text move effectively from given to new? That is, does it
start with something people know about, and give new information or insight.

4. Is there a dissonance that prompts the reader to read the text?
Conflict, problems, tension, uncertainty?

5. Does the text create and fulfill expectations? What does the writer do
to present movement?

6. Does the text help readers find what they are looking for?

7. Is there a voice in the text that's appropriate for the audience and
their purpose?