The implication of this line of criticism seems to be that students need to spend less time thinking about what they are doing and more time thinking about how well they are doing it.
This is not, of course, to argue that there are no such things as facts. It is, however, to say that facts must always be interpreted. A discipline continually redefines which facts are important and which are not, as well as through what theoretical lenses such facts may be viewed. While practitioners of these disciplines may take these assumptions for granted, they are the very things likely to trip up those unfamiliar with the interpretive community.
Ironically, the idea of “interpretive communities” comes to composition studies through literary criticism. In Is There a Text In This Class (1980), the noted critic Stanley Fish argued that it was not the formal features of a text which gave rise to interpretations but the common assumptions and values of a community of readers which allowed them to define the formal features of a text. The idea of the interpretive community quickly spread to scholars in composition and rhetoric where it has increasingly replaced “skills-based” models of teaching writing. Pat Bizzell, in particular, has noted her debt to Fish (see her introduction to Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness). Interestingly, though, collaborative models of classroom activity, which are common in composition classes, are much less prevalent in literature classes—an issue which I go on to discuss here.
Peter Elbow. “Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment, ” College English 55.2 (1993): 187–206.
Christopher C. Weaver. “Grading in a Process-Based Writing Classroom, ” The Theory and Practice of Grading Writing: Problems and Possibilities (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998), 141–150.
In fact, writing workshops' focus on personal narrative has been the source of some criticism within composition studies. Some compositionists—notably Pat Bizzell and Mike Rose—caution that introductory writing courses which privilege personal experience may not adequately prepare students for courses in which personal experience is irrelevant; see Pat Bizzell, “College Composition: Initiation into the Academic Discourse Community, ” Curriculum Inquiry 12.2 (1982): 191–207, and Mike Rose, “Remedial Writing Courses: A Critique and a Proposal, ” College English 45.2 (1983): 109–28. However, my position here is somewhat different. I bring up this focus on the personal not because I object to it—on the contrary, I don't think it is possible for students to participate in interpretive communities without being aware of their own reactions and experiences—but because I want to recognize it as a difficulty in mak
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Book title: Teaching in the 21st Century: Adapting Writing Pedagogies to the College Curriculum.
Contributors: Alice Robertson - Editor, Barbara Smith - Editor.
Publisher: Falmer Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 210.
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