The Pathology of “they can’t write”

In creative writing, I’ve heard the phrase “writing can’t be taught” so many times.  But the concurrent rhetorics of “talent” only serve to justify why some writers get published and others don’t.  This also undermines any attempts at accountability and “best practices” for teaching creative writing.  It places a “failure to succeed” right on the…

James D. Williams – “Counterstatement: Autobiography in Composition Scholarship”

Williams, James D.  “Counterstatement: Autobiography in Composition Scholarship.”  Rev. of Situating Composition: Composition Studies and the Politics of Location, by Lisa Ede; Self-Development and College Writing, by Nick Tingle; and The End of Composition Studies, by David W. Smit.  College English 68.2 (2005).  209-225.  JSTOR.  8 April 2014. Williams here is very, very critical of…

Anatole France’s “Good Critic”

Anatole France writes that “The good critic…is he who relates the adventures of his soul among masterpieces” (qtd. in Kellman B14).  This relates particularly well to the idea that all works at are some level autobiographical.  My wonder, however, is the degree to which the concealment of autobiographical detail may serve to enhance rather than elide…

“Prepatory” writing and expression

Sarah Allen writes that “the academy has become obsessed with argument…other forms of writing have been demoted to ‘preparatory’ work – their unique strengths diminished in the face of the rigors of argument” (3).  She feels that students have been inculcated into a culture of argument that has some pretty twisted effects, though it’s unclear…

Montaigne, autography, and “knowing”

In discussing Montaigne’s Essais, Spellmeyer describes an approach to knowledge that is very close to Jeanne Perreault’s autography.  “Montaigne’s real concern is not knowledge proper, but the relationship between individuals and the conventions by which their experience is defined and contained” (qtd. in Allen 9).  Allen subsequently describes this as “a fruitful way of thinking about…