A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they're running out of you.

Being interested in the dynamics of disciplinary conflict, I'm always on the lookout for oppositional or even confrontational rhetoric in my readings in rhet/comp/writing studies. There's an exchange between Russel Durst and Bill Thelin in the September 2006 CCC that pushes right up to the edge of nastiness but doesn't quite go over. But, for history's sake, I thought I'd pull out my all time favorite confrontational rhet/comp moment:

David Bartholomae gave Stephen North's The Making of Knowledge in Composition a blisteringly negative review. In a subsequent exchange in Pre/Text (Vol. 11, 1990), North says that “Dave makes some pretty derogatory comments about my work, my professional ethos, maybe—depending on how you feel about the connections among such things—me” (108). Then North goes on to agonize about how to “handle” Bartholomae’s criticisms “fairly,” admitting that:
certainly a more genuinely expressive (response), as I understand people to use the term—would be a loud, dismissive ‘Shit’ (drawn out and descending almost into voicelessness, as we do it where I grew up); or maybe an infinitely disgusted, derisive, ‘Fuck you.’ (108)
Now that's something you don't read in an academic journal everyday.

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At 8:03 AM, Blogger Donna said...

Yeah, I thought the Thelin/Durst exchange was, hmm, intriguing. It also marks, I would say, an impasse in that debate, a lack of basic stasis.

But--whoa--Steve North! I'd never read that Pre/Text exchange. I didn't know comp folks could talk like that. ;-)

I like the idea of keeping track of exchanges like that. Are you planning any articles on the topic? That would be pretty fascinating--

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Lance said...

North's great; he's a real provocateur. The only people I like reading more than him are the people he pisses off.

I'm working on an article now that circles around the topic of disciplinary conflict, but almost everything I've written for the last several years has been about it in one way or another.


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