Monday, March 3, 2008

Keith Sawyer "Creative Teaching"

Keith Sawyer "Creative Teaching: Collaborative Discussion as Disciplined Improvisation"

This was a great read. Sawyer argues for a revision of the "teaching as performance" metaphor to guard against "teacher-proof" scripted interpretations and move toward an understanding of the metaphor as calling for improvisational teaching and classroom interaction. This piece was just filled with quote nuggets about facilitative, improvisational classroom management. If I am ever writing about participatory or engaged education again-- improv will likely come up and I will turn to Sawyer for a good quote to back me up. I'm totally convinced. Bring on the improv tomorrow night!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Anis Bawarshi Introduction

Anis Bawarshi's Genre and the Invention of  the Writer Chapter 1 "Introduction: A Meditation on Beginnings" p.1-15

I like the "in medias res (the 'into the midst of things') strategy" (2) very much. Haswell mentioned the same concept in Gaining Ground, and I was compelled by it. I encountered this idea through the work of Zillah Eisenstein's book Against Empire where she situates the current neo-liberal globalization trends in a context of what she calls "befores, alreadys, durings and afters." For example, she challenges the way naming of American wars in the Middle East fractures and shrinks the conception of the extent and duration of what could actually be considered one ongoing process or imperial project. In my way of looking at things, I see this recognition of historical, political, social and cultural contexts (and subtexts) as an attempt to make ones perspective and purpose transparent-- embrace subjectivity without wagering significance. 

It's self serving too: let me know where you stand and how you see the world so I can decide whether or not (and how) to read you.

Invention isn't my favorite part of writing to examine-- but I'm trying to be open minded. It sounds like Bawarshi has a thought-provoking Foucault-influenced understanding of how genre functions both to generate and to regulate (12).  If that confliction holds its significance in terms of invention-- then I'll try to get interested. 

One last question: Bawarshi refers to "writing in the disciplines (WID)" (14) instead of Writing Across the Curriculum. Is this a different argument? There seems to be a different implication to using one or the other name. 

Jarrett "Obbligato" Part Two

p77 "we know what improvisation is because we know what it isn't." I'm starting to think that this kind of negative-definition thinking prevents any actual exit from dualistic thinking in binary relationships. Jarrett comments on dualism hierarchies but uses them at the same time. I wonder if defining what something IS rather than what it is not could be considered a strategy to challenge dualistic logic (and the systems of power that it ideologically supports). 

p81 Jarrett suggests that heuretics = invention ; hermeneutics = imitation or interpretation

First of all: is this right? Secondly: why are imitation and interpretation lumped together?

can't stand the whole "hymen" metaphor. especially with the verb "breach." (82)

Not really sure what Jarrett is calling a writer's "signature." Form? Voice? Formvoiceargument? This needs clarification.... Jarrett's signature may be what is irking me so.

And then the names. Okiedokie. We like words now don't we? Although "the interdependence of jams and jars" (95) speaks clearly enough about dynamic relationships between form and argument, discourse and position. 

p101 Jarrett cites Fitzgerald saying that Jazz had "no interest in politics at all." True? Oversimplified? Misrepresentative? Commonly accepted notion? Yes to all?

Friday, February 22, 2008

venting during last week's class

Why does English make me so mad?

What is it about it that makes me feel personally wronged?

I mean, shit, I'm privileged and white, this should be my stuff, right?

First I feel nervous, then just plain uneasy.

Then I start grinding my teeth, chewing my lips, shifting in my chair.

Then the frown sets in, and a lump rises in my throat and the infuriating frustration consumes me.

Frustration of not knowing what's so wrong

and not knowing what to ask, or how to explain

that we are participating in and perpetuating violent ideologies of hate and ignorance that sustain a white-supremacist-capitalist-hetero-partiarchical system

When you tell me that Tom Romano invented multigenre,

I wonder what Harriet Jacobs (and her scholars) would say.

When you talk about "my story," I wonder why "her story" never comes up.

And when we study Jazz in a white college classroom without ever explicitly discussing racism or cultural appropriation,

I feel I have somehow failed myself as a conscious person.

My colors don't fit

This class's reading makes me so angry that I really should change the colors of my blog. Black and red seem like they would be better. The orange and yellow brightness just seems inappropriate. 

Jarret "Obbligato" part one

Michael Jarret Drifting on a Read Ch 2 "Obbligato: Required Listening"

So, I have made it through the first twenty pages of this chapter and I must stop to vent. I am having great difficulty getting through this chapter without feeling overwhelmingly lost (or misled) and fully dicked around. I find kernels of meaning lost amidst tons of other text (I don't even know what to call it but it's making me feel dumb). Why are we reading this? Why must it be so inaccessible for non-jazzographers? I can't stand this. At first, I was like, "oh, how interesting..." But now I'm like, "get it over with!" What are we talking about? Improvisation as a model for writing? This is way too big of a stretch to just dance around an explanation that is more of an exploration. I need an answer. How is Jarret making a claim that jazz can be a model for writing? Can I get a summary? I am becoming totally annoyed with the jazz metaphor at this point...

The parts that make sense:
p. 62 "Obbligato alludes to everything considered parergonal, supplemental, "hors d'oeuvre," or a matter of style. Within the verbal arts this includes prefaces, footnotes, marginalia, and illustrations..."
Simple point enshrouded in crazy vocabulary that pisses me off. What the hell does parergonal mean? And why use it if it's such an obscure word? And if what you're talking about is framing materials and illustrative additions, why don't you just talk about that??!!

p. 64 "Writing (recording technology) is not opposed to improvisation. It results from it. The term 'obbligato,' then, is useful because it makes explicit what's implied by other terms for ornamentation: namely, that any and all distinctions between composition and improvisation are socially constructed and ultimately incomplete." 

Ok, got it. But then the section is over and we launch back into the arguments about jazz being something to write about... and, why say that "improvisation as an artistic practice is rarely, even tacitly, examined" on pave 71 of a book doing just that?Hasn't that point already been established?

and then we're in the postmodernist scene where "this book only and always quotes" (74). And I am officially lost and have arguably built up enough resistance that I will never again be found in the work of this writer.

Will post more later. Will probably be more angry. So beware.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Haswell Ch. 2 and 3

Richard H. Haswell's Gaining Ground in College Writing: Tales of Development and Interpretation, Chapter 2 "Three Interpretive Tales of Growth," and Chapter 3 "Maturing."

Although it is most likely due to a loss of engagement after a whole day of reading, I was much less enthused with Hasswell in the two chapters for this week's reading than I was last week with Chapter 1. I do understand his point, that the supposed decline, or decay or writing skills in students beyond the freshman comp class is actually more of a misinterpretation on the part of writing assessors, and that a new conception of maturation, growth and mature writing should be embraced for a truly developmental pedagogy, but I don't understand why I read so many pages just get that. I mean, sorry, I guess it's not "just," it's a very interesting position than he thoroughly explains and backs up, but damn, I'll just take his word for it--that shit was long. Sometimes reading is just too much work. What does that say for the maturation process of a student?