NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED424579
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Stories Told in School: What an Essay Is in Progressive and Contemporary Composition Texts.
Adler-Kassner, Linda
The stories composition teachers tell their students about "what an essay is" are significant because they affect the work teachers do in the classroom. Questions about these stories, the cultural narratives the stories reflect, and implications for students can be answered through an examination of contemporary writing texts and texts written during the Progressive Era. A core belief held by Progressive intellectuals was that the survival of the nation was dependent on the achievement of a virtuous democracy. Perhaps the most significant story about what an essay is underscoring Progressive composition work comes from Fred Newton Scott's pedagogical scholarship. For Scott, an essay's formal conventions reflected the values that would see the nation through the achievement of a virtuous democracy, yet he wanted the essay to be a form which would allow students to express their "natural" ideas in a "natural" way. Such tensions were reflected in several composition texts co-authored by Scott and Joseph Villiers Denny. Although this tension in stories about what an essay is remains in contemporary composition, Mary Lynch Kennedy, William Kennedy, and Hadley Smith's "Writing in the Disciplines" (WID) and Gary Columbo, Bonnie Lisle, and Sandra Mano's "Frame Work" (FW) treat the story differently than did Progressive books. The approach taken in "WID" is closely aligned with that of Scott and Denny's texts and might perpetuate problems and result in considerable difficulties for some students. But "FW" deals with this tension differently, seemingly trying to relieve it by defining what might be a more accessible story about what the essay is. (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A