Sunday, September 3, 2006

Vielstimmig, "Petals on a Wet Black Bough"

Vielstimmig, Myka. "Petals on a Wet Black Bough: Textuality, Collaboration, and the New Essay." Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies. Eds. Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe. Urbana, Ill.: NCTE, 1999. 89-114.

Spooner and Yancey perform a collagist convergence in "Petals on a Wet Black Bough." They are chiefly concerned with the new essayism proliferated in the associational cut/paste practices of writing the screen. They experiment with collaborative personae (hence the fused author-figure). The conventions of academic exposition, normative conceptions of coherence, and the rise of associative intelligence in the midst of hypertext are chief among their concerns. Ultimately, they ask when and how teachers will be prepared to admit new/net essayism into the schoolroom and, as well, how assessment will keep pace.

Vielstimmig (German for many voiced) mentions the Emersonian self-reliant spirit that infuses much American education.

Three maxims: Assessment has to fit pedagogy (110). Pedagogy has to fit textuality (110). Can changes in pedagogy not be far behind? (111): "If what we're going to value is the essay proper--whether it's Bartholomae's or Elbow's--then by all means, let's turn the Internet off" (110).

"The new essay seems to have its own logic: intuitive, associative, emergent, dialogic, multiple--one grounded in working together and in re/presenting that working together" (90).

"This is not an argument against The Essay or against 'print classic' or conventional logic. It is an argument toward another kind of essay: a text that accommodates narrative and exposition and pattern, all three" (91).

"Speak for yourself, pal" (92).

"Ironically, both Spellmeyer's and Prince's purpose in reminding us of the essay's history is to restore it to its prior position: as a place for exploration not governed by the scholastic" (93).

"In some critiques of 'experimental' academic works (like this one?), there's a fundamental question about what counts as coherence, cohesion, and other interpretive conventions" (99).

"It is disappointing, though, how much influence is moving the other direction: that is, too many online essays merely reproduce offline textual conventions" (102). ^Solid ties to scholastic-reductive blogging ventures.

"Associational thinking may be another, more concrete and synthesizing, intelligence altogether" (108).

Terms: essay as a confinement (92), "rhetoricity of coherence" (101), Turkle's "aesthetics of simulation" (105), Venn diagram (to establish difference and relationship) (108)

Related Sources
Kirsch, Gesa. "Multi-Vocal Texts and Interpretive Responsibility." College English 59 (1997): 191-201.
Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. "Dialectics of Coherence." College English 47 (1985): 12-30.
Wittig, Rob. Invisible Rendezvous: Connection and Collaboration in the New Landscape of Electronic Writing. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 1994.
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