Writing as Transcribed Reality

From Berlin’s Rhetoric and Reality, a crumb from today’s exam reading:

Current-traditional rhetoric did undergo a number of changes during this
period [1920-1940], even though none of them were substantive. One new
addition to the classroom was the use of the research paper. Requiring
students to engage in library research was a predictable outcome of a course
taught by teachers whose major source of professional rewards was the
accumulation of research publications. Furthermore, the research paper
represented the insistence in current-traditional rhetoric on finding meaning
outside the composing act, with writing itself serving as a simple
transcription process. The first article in English Journal to discuss
the teaching of the research paper appeared in 1930 (Chalfant), but use of the
research paper was commonly mentioned in program descriptions in the twenties.
Textbooks that included discussion of the research paper began to appear in
significant numbers in 1931. After this, no year of English Journal appeared
without a number of articles on approaches to teaching the research essay.
It should also be noted that the widespread use of this assignment was
influenced by the improvements in library collections during the twenties, as
well as by new ways of indexing these materials for easy access–the
periodical guides, for example. (70)

Here, the point about research paper writing sparked by indexing
systems jumps out at me. A good collection (institutional or personal; for the
greater good or for my own good) needs only to be indexed when it is housed with
other collections, right? The index associates and disassociates. It preserves a
minor degree of granularity while introducing scalable ties (one with one,
one with many, many with many). Or not. Not exactly, anyway. Still the
thought of research writing before the convenience of libraries–collecting,
tracing, indexing, tagging, associating–is somehow refreshing. There is a small, pleasant jolt
in the reminder of something less systematized, less comprehensive: a
pre-indexical aberrance.