Saturday, December 5, 2015

"The Movement of Air, The Breath of Meaning" by Cynthia L. Selfe and "Made Not Only in Words" by Kathleen Blake Yancey

     I want to apologize upfront if this makes no sense. My daughter's birthday party was today and since I married a Pinterest mom, my nights have been spent drawing, painting, and designing decorations and activities for a bunch of five year olds. But enough rationalizing, we all have lives.

     Selfe points out a few things that I find to be humorous. The first is when she mentions how "metaphors from the screen have become common in our daily conversation." A lot of terms we use today have a basis in the digital world. Students from today would undoubtedly sound like aliens talking to students from even fifty years ago. For instance, swipe right. Thanks to Tinder, we all know this means that we accept something (we all know that right?). Without the digital foundation behind it, that term becomes confusing.

     The kids also know where they have to go to save a document in Word, but they probably have no idea why there is a picture of a floppy disk there. I should show them pictures of the cases of floppy disks, with color coded labels, my wife used to get her through college. I can almost picture the amazement (or the indifference) in the kids' faces when they see what could now easily fit on a tiny thumb drive. The language of Word documents and texting permeates how they speak as well. At least once a year, students will tell me to delete something from the board. Something I've written in dry erase marker.

     This leads to the next point I found interesting. Selfe says that English departments were "preparing professionals whose work... would increasingly rely on writing." This reliance led to innovations in technology and how the written word reaches people. In hearing many students speak, those innovations have made it so that students can't focus on the writing that necessitated those innovations in the first place. The Internet allows us to share ideas with people from around the world and access a vast amount of knowledge previously hidden from us, but most of us use it to watch videos of kittens and "like" photos.

     Yancey discussed Quartet One and how authors like Dickens would serialize novels. This would allow them the ability to change the story based on feedback, all while hooking readers. Imagine the excitement people have for the next episode of The Walking Dead applied to books. The one instance of serialized reading I remember was almost twenty years ago when Stephen King experimented with the format with The Green Mile. I vividly remember my disappointment when I would reach the end of one of the parts and have to wait another month. When I watch a particularly good television show, I find myself glancing at the clock during the last ten minutes, hoping that time would magically slow down so my enjoyment could continue.

     I would like to close by thanking everyone who gave my words and ideas any bit of attention throughout the course. I'm happy to have been part of such a great group of people and I'm grateful for each of you.

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