Back to Basics

A pretty good day all around, despite still being plagued by this head cold. Class discussion on "place" was fantastic! My 201 students read Yi Fu Tuan's (1991) "Language and the making of place: a descriptive narrative approach" alongside an interview with Vandana Shiva that appeared in Yes! magazine. I had to lead discussion on Tuan since the student who volunteered decided to drop th course. However, Megan, the student who led discussion on Shiva did a great job and the other students responded well, adding their own experiences, perspectives, and even some criticism - a rare thing to see on the second day of class.

On the bus, I got a better response to Rosa Eberly's question about the exigency for my dissertation. At the brownbag (a 9 am brownbag? who ever heard of such a thing?) I responded the context of the conversation. We had discussed critically examining outsider/ insider literacies and rhetorics and I said that motivated what I was writing. However, it didn't sit well with me and I knew it. There was a larger exigency motivating my work but I couldn't spit it out in the room with the sun glaring off both the snow on the capital and the ice on Lake Mendota, with my head cold making my voice sound like a 50s DJ, and with the roundtable discussion of professor Eberly and my peers -- all high level work and a little intimidating.

So, thinking back on my first chapter, where I gave an overview of what Tim Taylor called the EAS and EAM approaches within ecocomposition, I realized that this was the kernel for real exigency: the grit for the pearl, if not the nacre, as it were. What I wrote on the bus and revised later (just before writing this, really) was that yes, "the arrangement is bifurcated. Two views are simply juxtaposed and held in relation to one another. But, how are these views connected? To ask this is not necessarily to urge a totalizing narrative. Rather, it is simply to inquire into relationship between two areas of ecocomposition. On one hand, if nature is discursively constructed, we can view those constructions and reveal the ways they fail or succeed to accomplish given rhetorical tasks. On the other hand, if language is ecological, we are always already pawns in a system that supercedes the merely human. Both of these are worthwhile views and their respective projects are to be commended, even necessary for the well-being and survival of many species, not least of which is our own. But, the question becomes one of how we get from an analysis of the ways we talk about our environment to making part of that analysis a reflective recognition that our talk already bears traces of its environment."


k8 said...

I didn't think you sounded like that:-)

But isn't this the way it almost always is - we find the response we really wanted after the moment has passed. I thought your response at the time was fine. To be honest, I think that time should have been spent differently. Rather than have her quiz us on our interests/dissertations, it should have been a time for us to hear more about her research and teaching agendas.

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Not always theoretical... not even always academic.. but always written..