Let’s keep our first blog postings for writing about any part of Part One of Vernacular Eloquence (to p. 137). You may wish to pose a question to readers or invite comments on a certain idea. Please also, of course, comment on your fellows’ posts as you will.
I enjoyed reading Part One and tried to read kind of openly, getting used to Elbow’s book and what he is up to with it. As I was reading, I made lots of connections to Elbow’s previous work and to what it’s sometimes like to teach and to write. I have this particular way of reading an “academic” or “professional” text—something l call CULLING. I’m usually thinking about a few things most of the time: teaching writing (FYW at EMU or writing for social work students), reading reading reading, and my own varying writing and creative interests. Culling involves selecting (sometimes non-contextualized!) bits from things I read.
For this first post, write about something that stood out to you as you read Elbow, for whatever reason, and tell us the reason—what significance it may have for you. What did you cull as you read? Here’s something that interested me—
On pgs. 17-18, in the shaded box, Elbow writes, “certain linguistic dimensions [i.s., ‘a particular spectrum or continuum of qualities’] override or trump the difference between spoken and written words.” I really like the potentiality of thinking about the dimensions of language. Elbow mentions Biber’s 6 Dimensions: involved vs. uninvolved; narrative vs. non-narrative; explicit vs. implicit; overt expression of persuasion or not; abstract vs. non-abstract information; and evidence of “online” vs. “off-line” production. This last dimension I prefer to call “bliss/flow” vs. deliberation.
In the spirit of culling, and aside from Elbow’s main argument, I like thinking about how dimensions of language might influence my teaching of reading and writing and thinking. At least dimensions are another way to talk about writing and to notice things about the “how” of writing. For instance, for those students who don’t seem to approach writing with much interest at all, asking them to pay attention to the involved vs. uninvolved dimension of language might be helpful. Instead of thinking, then, that they’re just not interested in writing, such writers might try working with a topic that intensely interests them. I feel sure that I will start to pay attention, myself, to dimensions and qualities for awhile, and I’m hoping to get some interesting ideas by connecting them to my own work and my work at school.