by Beth Baldwin
"But this [book] is not meant only to argue this issue in a classical or academically authorized
sense, i.e., as a monological exercise of logic and reason with its inevitable linear
development and closure. It is meant also to enact a conversational model. Thus it is a hybrid
form of writing, a fugue-like composition which, like its musical counterpart is a polyphonic
(multi-vocal) composition based upon several related, but different themes enunciated by
several voices or parts in turn, subjected to contrapuntal treatment, and which gradually builds
up into a complex form having distinct divisions or stages marked at the end by an
open-ended climax rather than a conclusion. In other words, the work as a whole is in great
part the subject of itself." -- From Beth's abstract
As Beth writes in Chapter II:
"But when conversants make a contribution to the discoursal exchange,
they do so fully expecting a response whether that response be agreement, sympathy,
challenge, criticism, or objection."
And it's on hypertext.
Is it FOCUSED conversation? Should it be?
I get lost in the conversation.
It's also a conversation with the self.
We're having difficulty seeing only the conversation in short
electronic bursts as authentic conversation. Again, from Bakhtin's Speech Genres:
"The work, like the rejoinder in dialogue, is oriented toward the response of the other
(others), toward his active responsive understanding, which can assume various forms:
educational influence on the readers, persuasion of them, critical responses, influence on
followers and successors, and so on. It can determine others' responsive positions under the
complex conditions of speech communication in a particular cultural sphere. The work is a
link in the chain of speech communion."
Conversation and Gender
>From Chapter II:
"The voice, seemingly separated from it's physical source, travels through virtual space
unencumbered by the psychological weight of body image for either writer or reader as an
androgynous, ageless, colorless, sizeless equal."
"In electronic exchange, the teacher is visually no different than her students; all are text on
the screen, judged and responded to according to what they say rather than who they are --
the teacher is just one more interactive participant in the conversation."
Beth writes in chapter II:
"It just so happens that this communication we are studying takes place in writing, but I will
insist that writing exists as an artifact of the conversation" In "Collaborative Learning and the 'Conversation of Mankind'"
Kenneth Bruffee says that "Writing is a technologically
displaced form of conversation."
To see more of the Bruffee quote, click here:
Like thought, writing is related to conversation
in both time and function. Writing is a
technologically displaced form of conversation.
When we write, having already internalized the
"skill and partnership" of conversation, we
displace it once more onto the written page.
But because thought is already one step away
from conversation, the position of writing
relative to conversation is more complex than
the position of thought relative to
conversation. Writing is at once two steps
away from conversation and a return to
conversation. We converse; we internalize
conversation as thought; and then by writing,
we re-immerse conversation in its external,