(Teaching) Essayist Literacy in the Multimedia World
* Enlightenment "natural order of things" (73), ideal text of essayist literacy as given (74), frictionless prose (80),
I have followed the practice of engaging in ongoing dialogue in writing with students for several years in both the FE and HE sectors. Last year, however, my group and I experimented with a deeper form of dialogue. This dialogue has involved me sharing my own journal at intervals with the group and with the exchange of journals within the group. This challenge to accepted and privileged academic literacies, plays at the margins of literacy practices and offers an interesting subversion of the notion of the academic text, essayist literacies (Lillis, 2003) and the role of the mentor. Language, dialogue and journals must be seen as competing discourses and as sites of exploration and struggle. Dialogue journal writing is a situated literacy (Gee 1996; Street 1995; Barton 1994) and social practice which has the potential to destabilise the dominant literacies (Street, 1995) of academia.
The complexity of the Navajo language reflects the complexity of Navajo culture. In addition to the governmental system, traditional Diné have access to rich ceremonial life. It is difficult, however, to estimate the number of Diné who are Christians and the number of young people now born in urban areas. Literacy can play a role in transmitting the linguistic structures associated with these activities as well as expanding the use of the Navajo language into newer areas associated with Olson’s (1977) essayist literacy as well as more literary genres, such as poetry, short stories, and novels. McLaughlin’s (1992) ethnography of the Mesa Valley School explores some of the ways that written Navajo has been used to organize and record events, such as chapter house meetings and projects, announcements, and personal letters and notes.
Essayist Literacy and the Rhetoric of Deproduction - JSTOR
Trimbur works through an indictment of the "monological regime of silence and facticity" implicit (albeit with paradoxes and contradictions) in essayist literacy (72). Consider the difference between literacy studies' framing of essayist literacy (text as "self-sufficient vehicle of communication, a non-indexical account that supplies the contexts necessary for interpretation within the text itself" (73)) and that of composition studies (essayist text involving a "self-revelatory stance, flexible style, and conversational tone" (72)). The former, Trimbur explains, manifests (infests?) schooling through textbooks and consequently sustains a prevailing mythology tying the essay to natural modes of communication which make use of direct, factual language rather than figurative or abstract representations. "My argument is that the ideal text of essayist literacy results not from inherent or 'natural' properties of literacy per se but from the fact that essayist literacy positions readers and writers to treat written texts as if they were transparent reflections of the natural order of things" (75).Trimbur historicizes the (causal?) precedents of the banality of essayist prose in its presumed rhetorical vacancy. The ubiquity of essayist literacy has ideological implications reproduced through systems of schooling. Trimbur introduces what he terms a rhetoric of deproduction, which anticipates that essayist literacy inheres an arhetoricity: the text is merely to be decoded (treated as authoritative; read in school for comprehension only); traces of authorship and persuasive effects are removed."The discourse of essayist literacy thus codifies the apparent artlessness of the plain style into a systematic concealment of the social processes of producing and using texts. Texts appear to stand alone and to speak for themselves because they have been, as it were, deproductionized" (81).