Various Edited Inksheds from Friday Night and Saturday


Something is terribly wrong when engineering professors are so totally out of synch with engineering practice. Real engineers spend all of their time reading and writing: How come engineering teachers don't? can't? -- Lynn

Janet and Ralph

Perhaps Janet's freewriting is a way of leading students into the dialogue -- a starting point -- a way to oppose "solution mentalists". -- Roberta Lee

It is often a challenge to think in another discipline's ways of thinking. When we do so we also see ourselves as others see us -- and sometimes that is a shock.

Rather then merely helping our students replicate workplace writing practices (what I doubt is ever possible) what if we instead to help our students become reflective emerging practitioners?'s hard to imagine how you could write anything coherently by simultaneously trying to develop an individual wiritng voice AND writing as an HR director? -- Chris

I can't help but think that the liberatory political history of expressivist rhetorical practices is difficult to reconcile with the explicitly stated needs of engineering students and teachers. -- Sandy

I was disturbed by the "structured discussion" assignment [Ralph] showed us. It was a formal prescribed language game that asked students to imagine a number of audience positions, writer positions, situations, etc. But apparently, anti-dialogic in the extreme. A classic "dummy-run". COMMENT: But "dummy-runs can serve as useful models, can't they?/Models of what? No./ I have the same response. Maybe issues of "authenticity" are worth considering here.

Jamie and Andrea

I am not sure whether we need more argument... I agree with Jamie that bipolar bickering isn't genuine argument, but rather than calling for a different kind of argument, I do like the notion of consensus. Coming to consensus does imply that people have differences to explore and resolve (or balance, maybe) but it doesn't imply that someone has to be right and someone else wrong. I think the term "argument" itself is polluted.

Andrea's exploration of the various definitions of literacy within the corporation and the uses of those definitons by a powerful few made me think about the way in which we become readers and writers . If we must rely on schools to teach reading and writing, the prospects are grim. It is rare that, under formal instruction children are empowered. Learning to read and write needs to be defined as learning about how words work in the world and how to use words and not be used by them.

I would be interested in knowing how one would go about changing the communicative situation which seems to greatly affect the type of communication occuring in corporate organizations. Would not thouse who benefit from the prsent structure make deliberate attempts to keep that structure intact in order to hold on to their positions in the hierarchy of the organization? How much do they really care about the ethics concerning the way the organization communicates? -- Martin

I loved Jamie's comment about some teaching actually being a form of argument rather than demonstartion . . .

I still often worry about the ethics of what we do... Is it OK for us as writing instructors to encourage students in the belief that anything goes as long as they accomplish their purpose: propaganda, advertising, etc.). What is an effective piece of writing? -- Bill

The ethics of plain language is a critical issue, particularly because many readers and writers of plain language assume language to be neutral and transparent./ COMMENT: So plain language is not necessarily ethical or true language.

Maybe ethics should also be the central research question in English studies too, with the influx of new literatures in English.


We have been deliberately made ignorant of a 500 year legacy -- and our estrangement from first nations cultures -- taught to us in school-room history as "pioneer" narrative. [The first nations'] civilizations evaporated in the ideology of "discovery", manifest destiny, and the diaspora of starving low class white Europeans in North America. -- Kathryn

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