Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I Will Not Know
Close to five this afternoon, I was waiting for a ride home from D., and I had a few minutes to pass in my office. I'd already booted down the laptop and stowed it in my backpack. I didn't have the gusto to continue readings (for next week already) from the two seminars I had today, and I was feeling somewhat blaze after a full day on campus overflowing with six hours of intense discussion. So I straightened up one of my office shelves and got to leafing through a few odd journals casually handed off to me by a colleague last year. There were five or six yellowed issues of Composition Studies and JAC; I fixed on JAC 8 (1988), specifically David Foster's "What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Composition?", which ends
As informed readers and deliberately inclusive thinkers, we must be the measure of our discipline. Science cannot claim ascendancy in any area of human knowledge, particularly in that complex blend of knowledge-streams we call composition. We must be wary of those who, uncomfortable with the ambiguities of discourse and complacent with the quantitative, empirical perspective, would have us assume that perspective alone. As informed readers, we must juggle and juxtapose the claims of different modes of inquiry, recognizing what each contributes and what each lacks. To ref use this invitation to an intellectual pluralism, to settle in its place for a single perspective, is to invite the punishment we all hated in grade school: having to write the same sentence one hundred times. In this case, it would be "I will not know. I will not know. I will not know..."
Stimulating find, I thought, and then I started to wonder whether what we are talking about when we talk about composition in 2006 is so radically remade from what we were talking about when we talked about composition in 1988. And then my ride was waiting.Posted by Derek Mueller at January 31, 2006 10:00 PM to Academe