Conversation about "natural," "genuine," "authentic," "monologic," "dialogic" and other adjectives used.
Part of Morgan Gresham's and Mike Jackman's Interactive Review of

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by Beth Baldwin

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MIKE:I find myself taking issue mostly with Beth's adjectives describing conversation--"genuine," "natural," "authentic," i.e., and describing the essay as "monologic." It's because, I think, expressivism has had such a hard time with these assumptions. I love expressivism, but I have to admit a lot of convincing evidence exists to debunk those particular words as the result of a "terministic screen." I guess I look for more definition of conversation and acknowledgement; that though conversation may feel more "authentic," it's hard to prove one mode of discourse is any more authentic and natural than any other, when it is seen in context.

Anyway, here's an example of how Beth uses the words -

>From Chapter II:

"The presentation in CCC  of their two essays as "conversation" is ironic: even though the editors allow other voices to respond, monologically, to the primary soliloquies of Bartholomae and Elbow, no one seems to get the picture that what really ought to be happening is a shifting of pedagogical practice from the production of monological artifacts (including those which claim to participate in metaphorical "conversations") to the production of conversation itself."
We forgot who this is. Let's say it's really both of us (Morgan and Mike, in case you lost your place):
That gets into the whole Bakhtinian framework. (Monologues are dialogic?) They can be heteroglossic. They can also be monologic. (I always think with Bakhtin that it's the skill of the interpreter who makes them heteroglossic- how many voices the interpreter perceives going on - what seems monologic can be shown to be dialogic.)

MIKE:I'm concerned here about the terms "natural" and "genuine" - as I think this sets up conversation as something more immediate and natural and not at all contrived and rule bound. I think a Bakhtinian corrective might apply here. Here is the quote:

"It may be observed that teaching language/writing from either the perspective of Bartholomae (logical, formal) or that of Elbow (expressive) does indeed remove the use of language from its natural give-and-take communicative purpose, especially when that purpose is to be conceived in a genuine and experiential way."

MIKE:Here is use of "genuine" again -

Neither the metaphor of conversation between historical texts and student texts nor a dialogue that takes place only in a classroom publication is genuine conversation.

MIKE:Now why not genuine? I've tried to show Bakhtin's view that speech has genres, and that literature contains those genres imbedded. Marcia Farr ("Essayist Literacy and Other Verbal Performances") also supports this view by citing researchers who have studied oral literacy extensively. One small quote and then I'll be quiet about this for awhile - ". . . language use in a literate society draws on aspects of 'orality' and literacy in subtle and overlapping ways. In other words, speaking and writing are alternate ways of using one's language capacities, or communicative competence, and very often both modes are used within a single speech or literacy event. Thus the crucial distinction is not between speech and writing, but between text . . . and context" (11). Shirley Brice Heath in Ways with Words also shows how different conversation styles are used in the Tracton community that caused conflict in primary school classes for its members. I think you get the point, so that's enough of this.

MIKE:"I maintain that these particular goals are not best served by asking students to engage in the writing of the monological essay, expressive or formal. To do so in effect removes them from a direct experience of the public conversation." Monologic is best viewed as a comparative term, not an absolute. Again, she uses the term: "Unfortunately, even the chaos of free writing or other kinds of generative writing is conceived of and practiced monologically, and, at some point in time, the chaos has to take a rather messy backseat to the polished product which is simply a more coherent (less chaotic) monologue." and a confusion of monologic and monologue (a dramatic speech made by one person which can be a conversation with the self or a revelation to the onlookers, made directly to the audience in a presentational style of drama and film).

Sorry for the (mostly) monologue here. Morgan was out of town when this section was (mostly) written. But she gives a great summary of her views of pedagogy and conversation in our Process section that touches on some of these issues.

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