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ERIC Number: EJ937009
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
Reflective Writing's Synecdochic Imperative: Process Descriptions Redescribed
Jung, Julie
College English, v73 n6 p628-647 Jul 2011
Scholars and teachers within the field of composition have long heralded the merits of reflective writing. Whether written intermittently throughout a course or near the end (typically in the genre of portfolio cover letter), reflective writing assignments are thought to promote cognitive development by helping students become more aware of their own writing processes. More broadly, reflective writing is thought to help learners connect the specifics of their actions to those actions' more general effects. In this article, the author examines the rhetoric of one popular genre of reflective writing: the process description, which, following Kathleen Blake Yancey, the author defines as "first-person accounts" of writing in which students make visible the invisible processes of what happened during their production of a single text and why. Specifically, she identifies and contests commonplace assumptions about what these descriptions are in order to deepen existing critiques of what they "do". She draws on work by Hayden White to reconceptualize process descriptions as historical narratives that account for "what happened" in different explanatory modes. She argues that to be persuasive, process descriptions must describe what "did" happen in what White terms the "synecdochic mode". This synecdochic imperative naturalizes the work of writing, thereby making it difficult for teachers to interpret "bad" process descriptions as anything other than unsatisfactory demonstrations of student learning. To counter this interpretation, the author analyzes as historical narratives sample descriptions that fail to meet teachers' expectations, arguing that by interpreting them differently, teachers can develop new ways to learn from them even as they interrogate and revise the theoretical and pedagogical assumptions that rendered the descriptions "bad" in the first place. (Contains 16 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A