i. the theory part of theory & practice, feat. Grad School

Well, goodness me. First blog post for Writing Theory. This deserves a party. Or it should, but I’m running on fumes from a concert I went to last night (all hail Sir Ed, lads) so we’re gonna settle for a less-than-exuberantly raised fist and a halfhearted huzzah. I hope you understand.

Regardless! I’m hyped! It’s already the third full week of grad school, and it only just feels like I’m settling in. Which is fine. It’s a change. New Laptop, New Phone, New Schedule, New Responsibilities… Doesn’t feel like too big of a change, though, since it’s the Same Campus, Same Professors, Same(ish) Job… So I almost feel an uneasy sense of … ease? It’s like… I’m chill and taking things in stride right now… but I’ve got a feeling that’s gonna come back to bite me at some point.


Anyway, for the time being, I’m okay. No word on Christina of Three Weeks From Now, though.

Ominous looming foreboding-ness, aside. Let’s move on to last week’s class.


Last Week’s Class

We participated in a Twitter Scavenger Hunt that really functioned as Twitter 101. Served as a cool little ice breaker between us and the rest of the Equity Unbound crew, too.

It was fun–posting mystery pics and guessing others’. (Truth be told I feel a little bad mine was difficult to guess, and also because the lighting kinda threw people off.)

I’m better-versed on Twitter nowadays than I was back in my #NetNarr days, so the learning portion of it wasn’t particularly difficult. What was out of my comfort zone was actually participating in the conversations going on. I’m more of a lurker, I suppose? Sneak in a RT and a Like now and then, but I’m trying to get better at putting myself out there. So! This should help! Right?!

(God help me and my mute internet self.)

Alright, let’s move on to the reading we were assigned last class.


The Reading We Were Assigned Last Class

Here’s where the title of this post comes in, because wowie That’s a Lot of Theory. Janice Lauer’s “Rhetoric and Composition” was… daunting to get through. But I did it! Did I understand and comprehend all of it? Nah!

Real talk, it’s not that drastic. I was able to parse a good portion of the thing, relating to more than I thought I would. There were some really interesting bits in there, scattered among the walls of text that sounded a bit like a manual on theorizing quantum physics. I made notes, even! I know I won’t be able to get to everything I found interesting, but. … Yeah, there’s no “but,” just know I’m not gonna wax poetic on everything.

Overall, the text was a comprehensive history of the teaching of writing and writing theory, albeit in more… complex terms.

(Honestly, the term rhetoric always kind of eluded me. I didn’t take the Rhetoric class Writing majors were required to take in undergrad, so I’m still kinda like ?? ?? ? Curse of a Lit major, I guess. But! That will surely change this semester. Pretty sure I have no choice. And like, I have some knowledge of rhetoric considering I’ve helped many a freshman with Rhetorical Analysis papers in the writing center… Hmm.)

ANYWAY. There has been a lot of debate regarding what and how to teach students. From what I gathered, the reigning agreement among the more progressive sort of the academic elite was that teaching should be more individualized and considerate of students’ particular voices–utilizing journals, meditation, analogies, etc. to achieve some sort of self-actualization–something I can definitely get behind (Lauer 117). I’m all for showing personality through writing. It’s my jam.

I suppose the remaining arguments are the “ok how do we do that while keeping up the ability to actually Judge student writing on a standardized basis” ones. To which, I reply with a groan. Particularly @ standardized. It’s understandable how you need a basis to be able to build up, but it got to a point that the basis was all the students gained from the regimented teaching style (114). Professors were caught up teaching kids how to recognize good writing and not how to go about making their own. Like, okay, here’s how you build a boat. Know how to build a boat now? Great! Here’s a degree.

I’m not bitter. I promise. I say as I hide my literature degree behind my back.

(Am I saying that my literature degree doesn’t prepare students for the writing aspects of the senior courses? That the writing classes are optional for them and that I took as many as I was allowed, aka, like 2-3? Is that what I’m saying? Hmm? Am I calling for a union of the majors with just a difference in concentration between the two and a balance between writing and literature aspects of it? Hmm? Mayhaps I am. Also: see p.126–the section regarding part time instructors with no benefits. Hmm.)

Anyways, long story short, I agree that standardized grading is stupid (see p.119) and professors should consider their students, just like how students should consider their audiences when writing. BAM. 

That was going to be a segue but it’s cancelled because I want to talk about something else instead: how a lot of the points made around p.120-128 (and throughout the whole text, honestly) are pretty much ideals of the Writing Center, or allude to things and concepts I’ve learned while working there: Writer ownership, utilization of the writer’s own voice in writing (and how academia seeks to destroy it), writing in the disciplines and the differences therein, ESL and cross-cultural writing (a topic I just might want to focus a thesis on? Maybe?)…

I suppose there was a lot in this text that spoke to me… And I am hoping to focus specifically on several of the issues brought up throughout the semester. On a second look, though, it’s a good introduction to this class. I believe so, at least.

And so, I’ll leave you with one, final, small point, courtesy of p.128, where Lauer brings up scholars’ distaste for picking apart the “superficial” issues of a student’s work. We try to look at the High-Order Concerns (HOCs) over the Low-Order Concerns (LOCs), but I’m a stickler for grammar, so I tend to point out the LOCs like grammar and formatting even if a HOC is organization. In the end, though, I just preach consistency. For example, if you neglect the Oxford Comma, friend, you’d better neglect it all the way through–(Please don’t neglect the Oxford Comma, I beg you). Or, if you format dialogue a certain way, it’d better be the same throughout.

The same can go for a lot of aspects of writing, actually, and even in life, too. (Oops, she’s getting deep.) If you like to do a thing one way–organize, format, eat, sing, draw, write, etc.–as long as you’re not hurting anybody, stick to it. Don’t let academia (read: society) take away your voice, man. You wanna neglect that Oxford Comma, you neglect that Oxford Comma!

(I’m kidding, please don’t neglect the Oxford Comma.)

Alright, I’ve ranted enough this post.

See y’all next week!

— C



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