Negotiating Academic Literacies: Teaching and Learning across Languages and Cultures

By Vivian Zamel; Ruth Spack | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
From Silence to Words:
Writing as Struggle

Min-zhan Lu

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion. . . . You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.

-- Kenneth Burke(The Philosophy of Literary Form)

Men are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection. -- Paulo Freire(Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

My mother withdrew into silence two months before she died. A few nights before she fell silent, she told me she regretted the way she had raised me and my sisters. I knew she was referring to the way we had been brought up in the midst of two conflicting worlds--the world of home, dominated by the ideology of Western humanistic tradition, and the world of a society dominated by Mao Tse-tung's Marxism. My mother had devoted her life to our education, an education she knew had made us suffer political persecution during the Cultural Revolution. I wanted to find a way to convince her that, in spite of the persecution, I had benefited from the

____________________
College English, 1987

-71-

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