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

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'm Back

I bet you thought my hiatus would turn into a permanent shutdown of the blog, right? I admit I'm coming back later than I said, but summer is always like that: you always think there's going to be more time than there is. Anyway, there's a brief lull in chapter submissions for the edited collection, so I thought now would be a good time to dive back in.

Actually, I've been blogging quite a bit, but it's all been over at Grape and Grain. In exchange for posting my notes from the Thursday night tastings at Stimmel's (the wine/beer/bakery/grocery store by my house), I get to taste some of the most amazing wines in the world--wines like Chateau Haut Brion, Ridge Monte Bello, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz, and Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, to name a few. The only problem with the setup, in fact, is that tasting wines like these on a regular basis makes it harder to get excited about those good-but-simple $12.99 Aussie fruit bombs that I can actually afford to--and often do--buy. But I'm not complaining.

But I digress. Not only is this blog not defunct, it is actually very, very funct. I'll try to post weekly, or at least a couple times a month. I'm not sure yet whether I'll cross-post my tasting notes. (If I were to, this blog would, by virtue of their frequency, become primarily a wine blog, but maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing.)

For now, though, here's something comp-related I've been thinking about. In my Intro to Composition Studies seminar for new comp/rhet PhD students, I have in the past earmarked a week's worth of readings for looking at the "New Abolitionist" debate. The debate proper hasn't seen much action since the early 2000s, and its high-water mark came in the mid-to-late 1990's (one might point to the 1998 publication of Crowley's Composition in the University as signifying that moment). But one of the most powerful reasons for wanting to abolish the universal fyc requirement--the notion that "general writing skill" is a myth, that writing is so embedded in particular systems of activity that it cannot be usefully abstracted--is still very much in play. (Not to mention the idea that "literacy" itself is not a very useful concept, which, if you find it convincing, has grave implications for the teaching of writing.) So much so, in fact, that I feel certain that the lack of overt debate in our most visible forums about the desirability of the universal fyc requirement only signals the debate's dormancy, not its extinction.

Still, I want to introduce my students to today's discipline (not that that doesn't, obviously, involve some history), and we do have a close look at socio-historic theories of writing that posit it as concrete and particular rather than abstract and generalizable. I wonder whether we might not spend our time better by looking more deeply at, say, embodied rhetorics, or network studies' growing impact on writing studies research (both of which get playing time, but not enough for them to really break a sweat).

Any thoughts?

Nice to be back.

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