Sunday, January 25, 2004

Michael Moore on Julie Jung


Michael Moore's discussion of Julie Jung's approach to revision makes mention of the old cliche, and the way it seems to lurch into student writing. This reminds me of Bartholomae's classic, "Inventing the University," where the commonplace, as Bartholomae puts it, is taken to task as a sign of one's relation to the naive codes of everyday life.

I have problems with Bartholomae's formulation, as does Thomas Newkirk. And because I have problems with Bartholomae's formulation, I think I tend to favor Julie Jung's approach. Don't have students write out commonplaces; have them think or write about them. The problem here, as my thinking has led me to believe, is that commonplaces and cliches are deeply rooted in the intersubjective reality of daily common sense.

Rethinking the commonplace or cliche requires also that the student rethink or come to a different understanding of the function of language. In the common sense world, words point to reality; in academic discourse, however, words function as concepts to frame the very reality to which one points. This is no small step.