over my shoulder

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/culturec/public_html/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 34.

Over My Shoulder: Noise from the Writing Center

Here, if you don't remember, are the rules to Over My Shoulder. The book here is:

Boquet, Elizabeth H. Noise from the Writing Center. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2002.

The quotation is from pages 42-43, emphasis in original.

I fear, sometimes, that we are too willing to give our institutions what we think they want, whether or not it is what we want or, ultimately, even what they want. The shift from remediation to efficiency illustrates this point to me. We take great pains now to highlight in our studies, in our annual reports, the very broad appeal that most writing centers enjoy on our campuses and the cost-effective manner in which we operate. Most of us, for example, are advised to include in our annual reports hard numbers (As opposed to soft numbers? Or easy numbers?): number of students served (Do you want fries with that?), number of students from each course, from each major, from each year, from each school, always-another-from-each-that-I-seem-to-have-forgotten. Is this what we do? No. But do we do it? Yes. And we do it for "good" reasons, I suppose, though I don't feel like writing about those. What I do feel like writing about is what happens when we mistake doing it for what we do -- and when our colleagues, administrators, and occasionally our tutors and students, follow us in making the same mistake. I feel like thinking about what happens when we fetishize the numbers of students we see from every end of campus, the numbers of hours we've worked, the numbers of students we've helped to retain for so comparatively little cost, rather than what happened during those hours, between those students. It is rare that annual reports -- my own included -- tell stories of the latter.

Over My Shoulder: Composition and the Academy: A Study of Writing Program Administration

Here, if you don't remember, are the rules to Over My Shoulder. The book here is:

Hartzog, Carol P. Composition and the Academy: A Study of Writing Program Administration. New York: Modern Language Association, 1986.

and the quotation is from page 90.

[Erika Lindemann's TA training] manual sends teaching assistants a message something like this: The teaching of writing is a sophisticated practice, grounded in theory, history, and research. You can do it, and you can do it well. Those of us preparing the manual know more about teaching writing than you do right now, and we've reached consensus on how it should be done, but we trust you to carry it out and gradually to develop your own variations, your own distinctive style and practice. This work is important: it matters to your students now and throughout their careers, and it matters to you, personally and professionally. You should do it well and with dignity, and it will be a good experience for you. You begin as a novice who needs instruction and support, but you join a community; it is a sharing community, and you will make your own contributions to your students and your peers. You will be called to account, but you will be judged fairly. You will know what's expected, and you will be given direction and help. You will be treated with the same respect we want you to give your students.

Over My Shoulder

From Gabriel García Márquez's Memories of My Melancholy Whores, page 65:

Thanks to her I confronted my inner self for the first time as my ninetieth year went by. I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature. I discovered that I am not disciplined out of virtue but as a reaction to my negligence, that I appear generous in order to conceal my meanness, that I pass myself off as prudent because I am evil-minded, that I am conciliatory in order not to succumb to my repressed rage, that I am punctual only to hide how little I care about other people's time. I learned, in short, that love is not a condition of the spirit but a sign of the zodiac.

Mother...Tell your children not to walk my way

Another passage from The Autobiography of My Mother (pp. 96-98):

I had never had a mother, I had just recently refused to become one, and I knew then that this refusal would be complete. I would never become a mother, but that would not be the same as never bearing children. I would bear children, but I would never be a mother to them. I would bear them in abundance; they would emerge from my head, from my armpits, from between my legs; I would bear children, they would hang from me like fruit from a vine, but I would destroy them with the carelessness of a god. I would bear children in the morning, I would bathe them at noon in a water that came from myself, and I would eat them at night, swallowing them whole, all at once. They would live and then they would not live. In their day of life, I would walk them to the edge of a precipice. I would not push them over; I would not have to; the sweet voices of unusual pleasures would call to them from its bottom; they would not rest until they became one with these sounds. I would cover their bodies with diseases, embellish skins with thinly crusted sores, the sores sometimes oozing a thick pus for which they would thirst, a thirst that could never be quenched. I would condemn them to live in an empty space frozen in the same posture in which they had been born. I would throw them from a great height; every bone in their body would be broken and the bones would never be properly set, healing in the way they were broken, healing never at all. I would decorate them when they were only corpses and set each corpse in a polished wooden box, and place the polished wooden box in the earth and forget the part of the earth where I had buried the box. It is in this way that I did not become a mother; it is in this way that I bore my children.

The blurb on the cover of this book, written by Michiko Kakutani, says that it is "powerful and disturbing." I wouldn't say it's all that disturbing as a whole (yet), but this excerpt definitely stands out.

Virginia Woolf's got nothing on her

I finished up the Joanna Russ book; it was okay. I'm now a good way into The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, and this gem looked nice. I'll probably end up teaching a grammar course in the near future; shall I require the students to diagram this sentence?

My world then -- silent, soft, and vegetable-like in its vulnerability, subject to the powerful whims of others, diurnal, beginning with the pale opening of light on the horizon each morning and ending with the sudden onset of dark at the beginning of each night -- was both a mystery to me and the source of much pleasure: I loved the face of a gray sky, porous, grainy, wet, following me to school for mornings on end, sending down on me soft arrows of water; the face of that same sky when it was a hard, unsheltering blue, a backdrop for a cruel sun; the harsh heat that eventually became a part of me, like my blood; the overbearing trees (the stems of some of them the size of small trunks) that grew without restraint, as if beauty were only size, and I could tell them all apart by closing my eyes and listening to the sound the leaves made when they rubbed together; and I loved that moment when the white flowers from the cedar tree started to fall to the ground with a silence that I could hear, their petals at first still fresh, a soft kiss of pink and white, then a day later, crushed, wilted, and brown, a nuisance to the eye; and the river that had become a small lagoon when one day on its own it changed course, on whose bank I would sit and watch families of birds, and frogs laying their eggs, and the sky turning from black to blue and blue to black, and rain falling on the sea beyond the lagoon but not on the mountain that was beyond the sea.

Over My Shoulder: Joanna Russ' Picnic on Paradise

From Picnic on Paradise published 1968, which I scored in Knoxville at McKay Used Books for 75 cents (pp. 94-95):

He sighed. It was rather peaceful, actually.

"Look, dear," he said quietly, "I've done my best. But if you want me, myself, you'll have to do without; I've heard that too often. Do you think they don't want me out there? Sure they do! They want me to open up my" (she could not catch the word) "like a God damned" (or that one) "and show them everything that's inside, all my feelings, or what they call feelings. They talk about their complexities and their reactions and their impressions and their interactions and their patterns and their neuroses and their childhoods and their rebellions and their utterly unspeakable insides until I want to vomit. I have no insides. I will not have any. I certainly will not let anyone see any. I do things and I do them well; that's all. If you want that, you can have it. Otherwise, my love, I am simply not at home. Understood?"

A Larger Pool of Luck

Another installment of Over My Shoulder, a tradition started by Rad Geek (the rules). This passage comes from Saving the World by Julia Alvarez, an author from the Dominican Republic whose protagonists (in this case Alma) are also usually women from the Dominican Republic.

But she couldn't let it go. This periodic homeland rage that would crop up out of nowhere, even though she had been in the United States almost forty years, this feeling that her own luckiness was off the backs of other people, not because her family had been exploiters but because the pool of the lucky was so small in that poor little place that God forgot. In the United States there was a larger pool of luck, and the overspill trickled down: extra toilet paper in the stalls, soup kitchens, social service programs, sliding scales, legal aid, free clinics, adjunct teaching posts and art enrichment grants so that people like Tera, like Helen, like Alma before she lucked out with her novels and marriage to Richard managed to scrape by. (275-276)

Syndicate content