ERIC Number: ED189596
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Constraints on the Writing Process: A Theory of Coherence.
Knoblauch, C. H.
Two views of coherence in written discourse can be analyzed and then blended into a theory of coherence that selects the best of both views. One view is H. Miller's observation that all coherences are tentative and that the composing process is richer than its products. Another view is A. D. Van Nostrand's suggestion that the two elementary activities that are necessary to the generation of discourse (retrieving information and making assertions about that information) are "natural" and function prior to the imposition of compositional constraints. A third view sees these two activities as depending not only on syntactic constraints but also on the whole system of conventions that make up the writing process. Coherence results from the strategic manipulation of constraints as it is manifested in the effort to devise plausible sequences of assertions. Constraints include such things as the writer's purpose, the reciprocal connection between retrieving information and making assertions, acceptable relationships between assertions, and the sense of entailment that principally enables coherence by insuring that writer and reader alike perceive the logic of interconnection that animates discourse. The coherence of any one pattern of assertions, which is the achievement of artifice, conveys a believable fiction about the validity of its interrelationships. The coherence is artificial because of the many possibilities that have been eliminated to preserve intellectual, imaginative, and structural consistencies. The ability to discover new connections holds a promise that keeps every writer looking beyond previous sentences and previous ways of seeing things. (AEA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (31st, Washington, DC, March 13-15, 1980).