The discourse community of academic theatre and performance studies is heavily informed (and to an extent determined) by the post-structural and postmodern literary and cultural semiotic theories of the twentieth-century that pervade several disciplines in higher education humanities. Where the application of this material is distinct in theatre is the prescription of these theories as an ethical modality in producing performance; ethical not altruistic since what constitutes fair sometimes clashes with what the audience wants, especially in regards to the capitalist system of exchange that the post-structural project locates itself in opposition towards; modality not method because as the post-structural project signifies a body of scholars and artists with like-minded goals and rules of solvency.
The purpose of this project--metaphorically--is not to view the forest from the trees or vice versa but instead to locate and articulate the space between the trees--the limen--and thus to draw implications about relationships between these trees and by proxy the forest as a whole. to this extent, the project relies on the shifting of existing meaning or semantics--specifically terms or words--in order to describe new phenomena (or at least invisible) in social relations. Thus precision is valued in the technical language of theatre (scenery, script analysis, acting pedagogy) as well as the critical language that relates these performance apparatus to the ideas of the post-structural project. In short, the language of post-structural theatre studies is not driven by 'smartening' itself but in articulating new thoughts through new words. for example, it would be inaccurate in a post-structural discourse community to say 'commodity fetishism teaches the social relations in the capitalist system of exchange'; better would be 'commodity fetishism reifies...' since the latter describes the obfuscating mechanism of the sentence subject not implied by using teaching (and of course 'reifies' reveals the limen or space between the trees so to speak). Any scholar or proselyte capable of using these terms and their ideas with facility and felicity to substantiate, challenge or significantly alter the trajectory of the post-structural project is informally invited into the discourse community and usually given voice. Note, however, that agreement is not a requirement for communal acceptance. As part of the post-structural ideology, scholars in theatre studies and other post-modern humanity-based disciplines typically view identity or definition as an act of freezing--a methodological sophistry. Thus is it acceptable and in some cases even encouraged for existing or new members of the community to engage in a dialectical or dialogic process that can at times significantly change the course of the discipline and even its goals.
Typical genres of theatre studies also distinguish it from other post-structural disciplines. Foremost, the play is regarded as the basic unit of critical, theoretical and pragmatic of analysis. Further, the play is divided into the text as text, text as site of potential performance and text as performance. With limited exception, this series is viewed as a hierarchy for critical and interpretative engagement. Constituent to the play are articles, reviews, manifestos, books and theoretical works that either inform or comment on the performance or text and their relationship to the formation of social relations inside and outside the theatre. indeed, it may be reasonable claimed that any document that substantiates a scholars claims can be regarded as credible so long as it contains ample historicity and/or rhetorical competence; by historicity is meant verified by a reasonable number of reliable primary sources; by rhetorical competence is meant void of internal or external intellectual contradiction. Also of distinction is the division in theatre studies between the audience proper (performance) and the audience as discourse community. Implied in this claim is the fact that performances based on the theoretical contributions of post-structural thinkers may not be read in totality by the audience proper--that there may be an esoteric function in certain performances that is intended to say more to the discourse community than the remainder of the audience. Whether or not this is an excluding device is a judgment and outside the scope of this profile.
in 'cognition, convention and certainty,' patricia bizzel raises questions concerning composition pedagogy and its relationship to how and where student knowledge is produced. bizzel explicitly states at the onset of the essay that one of the purposes of teaching is to alter the student's wolrdview (365). in reading the remainder of her work, one understands this to mean that the instructor has an ethical charge to make the student aware of how their knowledge is informed by their community and--more importantly--that new writing and thought can occur inside or outside of said community. according to bizzel one of the chief plaudits of w.a.c. programs is the demystification of 'hidden curricula' like those found in the work of flowers and hayes. bizzel invokes their study on cognitive writing process in order to justify the need for composition pedagogy that takes into account that student's own communities may differ from the invariant rules that (over) determine their writing and thus success in the academic community. for example, bizzel critiques flowers and hayes for their prescription of a single 'process theory' for writing since it does not provide the flexibility that diverse classrooms require. this and other examples are ultimately used to prove bizzels thesis; that the revelation of humanitstic ideals in the classroom are enabled by considering the student as an emergent subject--not a vessel for the libations of invariant conventions that obfuscate the existence of a knowledge producing community.
bizzels ideas are critically substantiated and well developed. it would seem that out of all the essays from this semester this is the one i found the least tension with in content and form. indeed, that bizzel takes well supported pains to locate content and form in distinct pedagogical spheres only increaes my respect for the article. however i do wonder whether or not conventions or heurisms are more useful for some students when beginning the process of academic composition--and though bizzel raises the question of what constitutes reality (a student's grade or professional scholarship) she does not attempt a detailed recomendation for alleviating this problem.
judith a. langer's 'speaking and knowing' signifies an academic gesture towards understanding the relationship between writing well and intellectual development by summarizing a survey of various instructors and their experience with teaching composition. langer's conclusion is that content and form are distinguished from one another in those composition courses that stimulate students with critical engagement and an awareness of their own discourse community. after describing several 'perceptions of knowing' within the disciplines, langer attempts to prove that instructors must take into account that though their content may be objective and quantifiable, ways of communicating said content is shaped by the discipline itself and may thus offer the possibility of different modes of problem solving. understanding and communicating the tools of discourse thus better preapres students to 'think about planning, organizing, and presenting their ideas in discipline-specific ways.'
like bizzel, langer's project seems to be motivated by ethical concerns regarding the role of the instructor in teaching not only the what but how of academic discourse. the difficulty in assessing both this essay and bizzels work is describing these two modes of the discipline--content and form--in a way which ackoweldges their distinction but also articulates their relationship in the discipline itself; that undertsanding of one requires an undertsanding of the other. more importantly, the previous statement raises the question of whether this distinction is only an academic issue and thus whether or not articulating the need for prescribed forms adequatley prepares the student to engage with their largest classroom--reality.
Read Dulcitius and Sue-Ellen Case’s “Re-Viewing Hrosvit”. Complete the following assignment in 10-12 point, double spaced type. Support your assignment with at least several direct references to your reading assignments.
Imagine you are a dramaturg or literary advisor for an upcoming production of Dulcitius either for the Xperimental Theatre Season or a local religious organization (church, private Christian secondary school, etc--your choice). Write a memo or letter to the director about whether or not the article could contribute towards performable suggestions in sculpting either Dulcitius’ carnal embrace of pots and pans or the execution of Agape and Chionia. Given your chosen audience’s demographic, what aspects of your chosen sequence should/should not be emphasized and how might the article help or not help those aspects? In your writing I will be looking for a synthesis of critical engagement with not only the play-text and article but with your understanding of how these texts can potentially inform production choices based on audience demographics. Paragraphs are not essential: bullet-points or other conventions of letters/memos are acceptable. (400-450 words)
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.
in 'being a writer vs. being an academic,' peter elbow expresses the tension in composition pedagogy between wanting students to feel satisfied by writing and wanting students to be comfortable as academics (489). ultimately, elbow concludes that writing and scholarship not only conflict in the classroom but at times directly undermine one another. elbow distinguishes academic from writing centered teaching as the difference between--respectively--reader-based and writer-based composition strategies. elbow also states that his foremost aim as a teacher is to let the student know he 'understood' what was being said. in other words, feedback is a primary consideration for elbow's composition pedagogy: giving primacy to feedback and writer-based strategies affords a the student-writer to move from 'is this okay' to 'listen' composing (499).
according to david batholomae's 'inventing the university,' the student must understand that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to engage in discourse using a variety of voices; that knowledge is situated in a discursive community with its own 'special language' and memory. for batholomae, composition pedagogy thus involves focusing on a student's writing in relationship to the larger field it occupies. bartholomae is aware of the burden this places on the student writer and admits he is interested in how specialized language can make or un-make the writer but also claims that knowledge is only manifest when translated through a community defined by explicit discursive traits.
in 'thoughts on the teacherless writing class,' peter elbow displaces several vulgar criticisms regarding expressivist composotion pedgagogy which he aligns himself alongside. elbow asserts that subjectivity--affectation--is never a choice in evaluating student writing and should be embraced in the teaching process as a means of letting pupils know they are 'getting though' (127).
since the preceeding articles orbit similar sites it would be disengenuous not to comment on them as a whole. it is apparent that elbow and bartholomae share many theoretical premises that conflate their purpose even though their methods are distinct. for example, both teachers assert the need for writing within the community--a gesture towards dialogic thinking (elbow 'being writer...' 496 bartholomae 599). also both authors stress the need to create a classroom space for focus on student writing. where the teachers differ is in how this focus manifests and what consitutes the community. identifying these premises however offers an efficacious instrument into understanding both authors critical projects.
in his article 'reading,' michael rose claims the primacy of flexible guidleines for student writing based on his own ethnography at ucla. rose's students run a gamut of 'typical' college freshman; middle-class, third world to caucasian, various majors. rose begins by identifying archetypal problems for beginning writers and suggests a causal link between these problems and composition instruction that impedes rather than compels the process of writing. one of the articles central inferences is that writing itself is a 'complex problem-solving process' and its 'disruptions' may be addressed with cognitive psychology (95). in other words, rose says that writing is a form of thinking that can be stymied by mental blocks based on previous experiences--good and bad.
rose describes the writing process as a series of periods; the introductory period identifies and defines the problem or subject of wiritng; processing involves weighing various answers to the problem; solution signifies a 'stress and search' of the available answers and materials (96). rose subsequently invokes the critical contributions of gagne to differentiate the models that frame the process of writing. according to gagne, all problems--both everyday and extraordinary--require rules or guidelines in order to generate a solution. gagne divides types of rules into the algorithmic and heuristic (96); algorithms are precise, constant and completely predictable; heuristic models are more flexible, general and offer less liklihood of an optimal or single solution (97). rose suggests that while algorithms give many students a sense of security they also can impede freedom of expression and indirectly contrbute to writer's block. by comparing his own students and their experiences with writing, rose concludes that those writers that rigidly ascribed to an algorithmic model inevitably had difficulty communicating their own thoughts in a 'closed system'. students who applied more heuristic methods (non-blockers) generally experienced less mental blocks in the wiritng process since their models were subordinated to the writing process itself. according to rose, the comparison, substantiates the claim that diffuse, flexible and/or penetrable models serve students more efficaciously than fixed systems.
although my background in the humanities makes me inherently sympathetic to his pedagogical project, their were several aspects of the article that left me curious about rose's methodology, approach and conclusions. for example, it is my understanding that rose is also speaking from a humanities background. thus his lack of sympathy for students from other disciplines (especially after his pains to establish his ethnographic data) seems misplaced: why must an article rooted in nominating writing as an exercise in processual and critical exploration construct such a dynamic polarity between algorithm and heurism, block and non-block, good and evil. again, the article left me curious for indexical material such as interview transcripts: how was dialogue facilitated and how did the interviews directly lead rose to his assumptions?