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Posts Tagged ‘Draft’

On My Teaching

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Information Design, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Writing on January 10, 2011 at 8:05 am

Allen Mendenhall

Everything is an argument.  I say that not because I’m a lawyer, but because all writing has a rhetorical purpose.  Poets have reasons for writing what they write, just as technical writers have reasons for writing what they write.  Poets have audiences; technical writers have audiences.  What distinguishes poetry from technical writing, or from any kind of writing for that matter, is audience expectation, or, in a word, genre.  Students in my classroom quickly learn that all writing has a purpose that usually, though not always, has to do with audience.  They learn to anticipate audience by contextualizing writing.  A brief for a judge, for example, serves a different purpose than an expository essay, and thus a “good” brief will look different from a “good” creative narrative.  A short story by Toni Morrison may be good writing, but it does not fit the needs of a peer-reviewed academic journal because the audience and genre do not match.  A crucial process of writing therefore involves understanding cultural and social interaction and their relation to discourse communities.  Communication, after all, is participatory and not unilateral.  It is the transmission of information from one source to another through particular media such as language.  The receiver or reader is as important to writing as the sender or writer.          Read the rest of this entry »

Being John Hagerty

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Creative Writing, Legal Education & Pedagogy, Legal Research & Writing, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication on November 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

It’s early on a Tuesday morning when I walk into John’s classroom, a cup of coffee in my hand, my too-heavy bag draped over my shoulder.  I gain the nearest desk and sit down.

Outside the leaves are beginning to change, and a cool air whistles through a crack in the window.  “Smells like football season,” I think, even though the room is choked with chalk and dust.  Inside the classroom the students stare at me, the new guy, the stranger, and they look away when I acknowledge their glances with my own.

I probably look funny in this desk on which I’ve arranged various papers: John’s syllabus, his assignments, his pop-quiz for the day.  I’ve been up since 5:00 a.m., reading and rereading my students’ essays, so I’m not a little fatigued when class begins and John introduces me as “a new teacher” and “a lawyer.”  I smile and mutter “hi.”  I even manage half a wave.

John passes out the pop-quizzes, and the students, slightly panicked, seem to forget that I’m in the room.  How nice it is to be sitting here watching students take a quiz rather than taking one myself.   Read the rest of this entry »

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