Blog #11 Yancey & Selfe

Wow, last blog post for the semester. It’s crazy how quick it went by. I remember the first day of class and how the final project seemed so scary and abstract. I am excited with the direction it went in. I think our finished product is going to look great.

Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key by Kathleen Blake Yancey starts off this article by asking different questions that she will be answering throughout the lecture, “What is writing? Does it include writing for the screen?  Is composing about medium and technology?”  Yancey  was surprised with the fact that throughout the years there has been more access to education and an emphasis on writing. Yancey goes ahead and recommends that teachers do this, “Three Changes: develop a new curriculum, revisit and revise our writing across the curriculum efforts, and develop major in composition and rhetoric.” At the end of the article she said, “In helping create writing publics, we also foster the development of citizens whose civic literacy is global in its sensibility and its communicative potential, and whose commitment to humanity is characterized by consistency and generosity as well as the ability to write for purposes that are unconstrained and audiences that are nearly unlimited.”I found it interesting that Yancey uses comparison to compare and contrast writing in the 21st century and 19th century. She talks about what is writing and the importance of public writing. I could also notice that this lecture uses rhetoric as a way to encounter development with writing and the different ways it has been changing through out time. I also found this article to be very relevant to what is going on in society today. With social media students are learning that what we say on the internet is writing for the public. We need to be aware of what we post on the internet and how it can effect us.

Selfe argues that aurality has been subsumed by writing in the composition classroom. She details how this occurred throughout the course of the nineteenth century and asserts that we need to begin valuing all modes of communication because “the [current] relationship between aurality (and visual modalities) and writing has limited out understanding of composing as a multimodal rhetorical activity and has thus, deprived students of valuable semiotic resources for making meaning.” Self then continues on to explain the history. “In the first half of the [ninetieth] century,…collegiate education in America was fundamentally shaped by Western classical traditions and was oral in its focus…The goal of [education] was to build students’ general skill in public speaks…[Men’s] lives were imbricated with oral communication practices – speeches, debates, sermons – and such individuals has to be able to speak, as gentleman, in contexts of power. Universities were charges with preparing these future leaders to assume their roles and responsibilities.”

In the second half of the century, “departments of English focused on preparing professionals whose work, after graduation, would increasingly rely on writing.”  A heavy emphasis was on english and writing. This is because the written education in the nineteenth century was provided mostly for white males. Minorities continued to rely heavily on oral modes. “Academic writing often made its case for superiority by referring backwards to characteristics of aurality.”  Selfe thought that the idea was  to lure students into English classes with the promise of focusing on popular culture or music. But most composition teachers agreed it was best to approach such texts as objects of study analysis, interpretation, and, perhaps mot importantly, critique. Selfe states that aurality has come back into our focus because digital technologies have made it easier for people to compose in a variety of ways, such as audio and video recording.
She finishes with the idea that multimodality does have a place in the classroom. It can help students in composition classes work through communication problems. Meaning that it still has a place in educational learning.