Writing and What?

As someone who studied writing as a discipline–and who still largely earns a living by my writing–I find discussions about writing to be rather more interesting than might the average citizen. Though I did not attend a recent writing-related event called the Conference on College Composition and Communication (held in Atlanta for about 3,000 writing instructors and aligned individuals) I am sorry to have missed out on the learning which occurred.

Mary Grabar, however, missed out on very little:

[P]anels focused on everything but the written word as traditionally understood.

Can you imagine a pilot’s convention where every panel was about something other than flying? I’m trying to.

[The group holding the event] is devoted to disparaging grammar, logic, reason, evidence and fairness as instruments of white oppression. They believe rules of grammar discriminate against “marginalized” groups and restrict self-expression.

I fully admit to being rather light in the melanin department, but had no idea that grammar and logic were such . . . . bullies! Surely the authorities have been notified.

The “work” of students employing “hand-mind knowledge” in menial jobs like burger-flipping should be “honored” in the classroom, said a co-director of a “Poverty Studies” program.  We need to “think critically about how dirty work can be reframed, recalibrated, or refocused to honor all work and workers,” we were told.  The paper “’Wage Slaves’ Speak Out: Midwestern Monologues,” modeled on the Vagina Monologues, similarly illustrated how such “performance” can replace the old worker-unfriendly rhetoric.

I’ve usually seen monologues as largely a way for the villain to extend his or her 15 minutes of fame, but perhaps that is precisely what these students need: more monologuing. Seeing that I didn’t lead one of the panels, it is likely that I am simply not up to the level of erudition and self-hatred which was apparently necessary.

Stepping back from the barbs for a moment, let me simply say that I admire the author of this article for maintaining her sanity through her experience. I shouldn’t wonder that I would have, in her position, either become so entirely fed up with the foolishness that I departed on day one, or been escorted from the place of meeting for failure to soberly appreciate the collective wisdom of the presenters.

Go and read it all. Thankfully, the written form of language is still an effective and efficient means of communicating–for those of us who do not teach writing.