Blogrolling, More Summer Course Preparation

I've been meaning to say this for a while...thanks a lot Cindy and Torill for putting me on your blogrolls (and to other folks who link to me). It means a lot, especially in light of this intellectual slump I've been in lately. I got some comments on my seminar papers last semester that were, while definitely intending to be constructive and helpful, a little alarming having to do with my authoritative voice or lack thereof. I've been wondering if I have any voice at all, anything meaningful to say at all. I wonder if I have any innovative opinions other than I agree with this or I don't agree with that. I know it's a common sentiment in grad school, and Cindy's June 11 post (permalinks in Blogger don't seem to be working so well) makes me feel less alone. Here's an excerpt:

There is a lot of discussion going on at baraita, Frogs and Ravens, and elsewhere about the ability of grad school to destroy the intellectual self-confidence of students. As someone who experienced this, I'm always happy to jump on the grad school bashing bandwagon, but I'm also self-aware enough to recognize that some of the personal demons I was harboring helped the process along. Nonetheless, the number of blogs I'm discovering which either focus primarily on what I'll call "the grad school blues" or which return to the subject again and again tell me that my experience of grad school as a largely gloomy part of my history isn't entirely a self-created reality.

Nor can I say good things did not happen in grad school. It is, of course, where I discovered my love of teaching. It is where I met my best friend. It is where I discovered I am--or perhaps where I named myself--a feminist. But it is also where I often felt isolated, intimidated, and small. It is where I learned what intellectual masturbation is. It is where I cried myself to sleep many nights because I didn't believe I was good enough to be there. And while a few wonderful professors did everything they could to instill in me a sense of worth, neither I nor any of my friends ever felt the department nor the profession as a whole gave a damn; hence, the systemic problem, no, illness, noted at Naomi Chana's blog.

To change the subject to something more imminent than the future of my voice, I'm in the process of moving to an apartment down the hall with my friend Jessica, and I'm still working frenetically on my syllabus. I met with Sandra Becker, the Course Coordinator for Rhetoric 3562, and now my head is swimming. She was great about answering all my MANY questions. I'm seriously considering using Bernadette Longo's idea of having each student be the manager of another student. It sounds like a good way to ensure accountability. Bernadette's course materials are excellent; I recommend looking at them if you're teaching technical communication or want to someday. She told me I can use anything I want from her materials too, which was wonderful of her.


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grad school

Thank you, Clancy! And please, don't for a moment doubt your voice, your intellect, or your ability to do this. I haven't seen your seminar papers, but I've seen this blog, and my first impression of it was, WOW! There's a voice here. I hear it.

Over at kairosnews the other day in the comments area a poster was suggesting that notions of voice are kind of meaningless to "compositionists" and I let that comment rattle me a bit because I'd been talking about how important I thought blogging was to developing voice. I realized later that I was falling into my old habit--formed in grad school--of doubting my own ideas because someone (male) who sounded like an authority was saying something different. I thought I'd gotten over it, but I guess not. It's a constant battle I suppose.

But I do think there's a lot of support in the blogosphere.

In any case, I love what you are doing here!


thanks also, and voice too

Cindy, I'm sorry my comment was troubling. I wasn't trying to suggest that notions of voice are meaningless; I was saying that I think using the term as an evaluative criterion -- if something has 'voice', it's a blog -- is problematic because the way people define voice is so muddy, and compositionists (can I ask why the quotation marks around the term?) have been particularly loose in using it as a synonym for "the style I like."

Which is why I would've been frustrated to receive the comments you received, Clancy, about "authoritative voice or lack thereof": I agree with Cindy, and really enjoy your writing. And, see, I think this difference between the opinions Cindy and I hold and the opinions you got on your seminar paper confirms what I was going on about over at kairosnews: " 'as long as the voice comes through' reduces an analytical criterion to a gut check; either you feel it or you don't." I think saying something has voice or doesn't have voice says more about the reader's tastes than it does about the writing's quality. (A lot of my opinions here are shaped by the diverse perspectives presented in the excellent anthology Landmark Essays in Voice and Writing; Davis: Hermagoras, 1994.)

But what I originally wanted to say was thank you likewise Clancy, very much, for blogrolling me. I agree; it definitely means a lot to realize that people are actually reading the things you say, and helps you realize that maybe you do have some innovative opinions. Which I think you totally do.



Hi Mike and Clancy,

Mike, the main point I was trying to make was how even now (after teaching basic writing and composition for 11 years, being ABD--by choice--having a tenured position, etc.) I can still be unsure of my own intellectual abilities when confronted by a "challenge" from what sounds like an authoritative voice (which in this case happened to be yours, but by no doing of your own!). I was trying to say to Clancy, "Hey, you're not alone," by giving her an example of something I'd just recently experienced.

Now, why did I experience it? There was just something in your post and in the way you declared, "as a compositionist" that intimidated me, made me think, "Well, maybe he knows more than I do. Maybe I haven't been keeping up, etc." I felt like maybe I was out of my league. Later, it just so struck me because of the conversation we've been having about grad school and its way of damaging self-esteem. I realized I was doubting what I had been saying on my own blog about how great blogging is for finding a voice simply because I'd read your post, and suddenly, I was a scared grad school student again.

It wasn't anything you did; it was my baggage. But I also think it's significant that you're a guy. Would I have reacted the same way to a woman saying the same thing?

No hard feelings, I hope. I'm going to check out the text you mentioned. I'd like to ask one thing about not using voice as an evaluative critierion. Don't we, as readers, react to what we like? If a writer can get us to react in that way, doesn't it say something about the quality of the writing? We've all read student writing we would say is voiceless. Can we honestly say that is not a mark of quality in the writing? Sure it's a gut-level sort of response, but it's there, and I think it's valid.

Anyway, Clancy, if two bloggers make it official, it's official. You're great.
And Mike, I'm going to link you on my blog.


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