Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 25
Distant Voices: Teaching and
Writing in a Culture of Technology
Chris M. Anson

Chris M. Anson is Professor of English and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University. He has published 12 books and several dozen articles in the field of composition studies, with a special focus on response to student writing and writing across the curriculum. His current book project, which is under contract at Oxford University Press, is an edited collection of writing across the curriculum scenarios for campuswide faculty development. The following article is from College English, 61, January 1999.

With the development of the Internet, and … networked computers, we are in the middle of the most transforming technological event since the capture of fire.

—John Perry Barlow, “Forum: What Are We Doing Online?” (36)

August 3, Les Agettes, Switzerland. I am sitting on a veranda overlooking the town of Sion some three thousand feet below, watching tiny airplanes take off from the airstrip and disappear over the shimmering ridge of Alps to the north. Just below us is another chalet, the home of a Swiss family. At this time of day, they gather at the large wooden table on the slate patio behind their home to have a long, meandering lunch in the French Swiss tradition. Madame is setting the table, opening a bottle of Valais wine, which grandpère ritually pours out for the family and any friends who join them. As they sit to eat, the scene becomes for me a vision of all that is most deeply social in human affairs. They could not survive without this interconnectedness, this entwining of selves, the stories passed around, problems discussed, identities shared and nourished. For weeks, away from phones, TVs, computers, and electronic mail, a dot on the rugged landscape of the southern Alps, I have a profound sense of my own familial belonging, of how the four of us are made one by this closeness of being. Just now Bernard, the little boy who lives on the switchback above, has run down with his dog Sucrette to see if the kids can play. He is here, standing before us, his face smudged with dirt, holding out a toy truck, to entice the boys. For now, it is his only way to communicate with them, poised here in all his Bernard-ness, his whole being telling his story.

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