ERIC Number: ED426416
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Rewriting the Social Body: What English Composition Programs Can Learn with the Language Poets.
The job of teachers of composition is to teach students how to write, and what they teach them to write is the school essay. Yet, if they stop to see the school essay for what it really is, they will discover that for all their humanistic claims of wanting to give students voices, the genre is one that actually works to exclude many of these voices. Composition teachers need to examine the origin of the school essay, which lies in poetry. Although they use a different vocabulary, rhetoric and composition theorists and the Language poets share many of the same concerns about reading and writing as it is being used in the United States today. Even though the school essay is a completely artificial form of writing, it has come to represent intelligence and is what is demanded of college students. Often, when nonmainstream students are unable to immediately reproduce it, they are made to feel stupid, do poorly in their college writing courses, or even drop out of college. Both rhetoric and composition theorists and the Language poets contend that full consciousness for any writer is further hindered by the various discourse systems and ideologies under which writers are operating. The only way for composition teachers to change the language is to change the genre of the school essay, or at least expand it. They must refuse to accept only the writing that reproduces the dominant discourse. Only then can they expand their definitions of literacy. (Contains 15 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (49th, Chicago, IL, April 1-4, 1998).