February 15, 2005

week five: elbow

in 'closing my eyes...' peter elbow claims that writing--especially in relation to other works--demands the writer consciously deny the 'audience' or reader-based composition in order to serve the text. elbow further idenitfies evidence that reader-based composition pedagogy has 'gotten out of hand' (163); characteristic cliches seen in writing when the student is forced to compose for a general audience of which he/she has no intuitive awareness. in other words, elbow argues that cogent and worthwhile reader-based writing can not be achieved if it is the primary aim of composition pedagogy; that it emerges when the teacher instead instills a sense of individual purpose and self-confidence in the student (164). elbow also intimates that reader-based writing is not a direct determinant of higher order thought or critical engagement. on the contrary, he says that wiritng for an audience can often distract from wiritng that is neither original or thoughtful. elbow concludes with suggestions on how to change the teacher's role from that of censor to a genuine audience the student writier both trusts and appreciates as enablers of knowledge production.

although elbow makes several informative and provokative points i found it difficult to accept much of his analysis since his most controversial claims were supported by his own experiences instead of external evidence. even his statements regarding poor student writing were accompanied by the 'we've all seen' and 'many students...' variety of statements. thus the article simultaneously reveals the greatest plaudit and largest problem of expressivistic methodologies in the production of classroom knowledge; that indivudal knowledge--though valuable--should always be substantiated by an existing community before being offered into a larger disourse.

Posted by hudd0016 at February 15, 2005 3:41 PM