Author: Lisa Blansett

What is an Audience?

As part of the “rhetorical situation” most students either pick up on or are explicitly taught, “audience” looms large as the writer tries to predict exactly what will move those who hear or read the work. Other pieces enter the picture, too—purpose, occasion, for example—and this triumvirate serves as a kind of cloud into which […]

Plagiarism and the Pedagogy of Fear

Students in my classes are able to define plagiarism pretty easily and they understand that plagiarizing comes with consequences. Those same students identify plagiarism under the heading “bad” and its attendant ramifications as catastrophic. Most syllabi include a statement about plagiarism with consequences that range from a failing grade for the essay to failing the […]

Bend and ‘Flect

  When I think of “reflection” outside the world of composition and rhetoric, I think of light that emanates from a source bouncing off a surface that redirects that light–like sunlight bouncing off car windshields. The light is conceived of as linear, and the relationship between source and surface is geometric, the point of origin […]

Legos and Eggs

I’ve been sampling bits of the new 4th edition of Jim Williams’s Preparing to Teach Writing, in part because I wanted to see whether Williams had changed any of his approach (he hasn’t), but mostly because I was thinking about his chapter on the relationship between teaching grammar and improving writing (there is no causative […]

Contributing to the University

David Bartholomae’s essay “Inventing the University,” is still a foundational text of composition studies, a testament to Bartholomae’s farsightedness and his understanding of student work.  In that piece, he argues that “every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university for the occasion—invent the university, that is, or a branch […]

Term(inal) Papers

One of the topics of conversation around here has been “The Research Paper”; in particular, the question of whether FE instructors are required to assign a research paper.  (You are definitely missing out on some productive conversations if you don’t hang around the FE Triangle [163, 126, and 125]). Many composition instructors are accustomed to […]

“Thesis” Goes Viral

In my previous “Anti-Thesis Thesis” post, I offered some reasons why I have moved away from focusing on “thesis” in my classes.  This week, I look at what happens when instructors (broadly conceived) focus on that one-sentence-at-the-end-of-the-first-paragraph-that-crystalizes-the-argument. The form of the forensic argument is often reduced synecdochally  to its “thesis statement.” As such, the thesis […]

What is Parrhesy?

I’ve become interested in the concept of parrhesia or “parrhesy” and its implications for the way we teach writing to undergraduates.  My thoughts are definitely still inchoate here, but I wanted to start thinking more publicly about the direction I’m heading and offer a few of the bits and pieces I’ve found and recorded in my commonplace book (which is […]

The Anti-Thesis Thesis; or, Why I Don’t Use the Word “Thesis” [Very Often] in Class

I may well be setting myself up for some charges of “composition” heresy: I try to avoid using the word “thesis” when I’m teaching Freshman English.   Although I’ve practiced this erasure for a while, I recently made a public statement about it at our August Orientation and was interested in reactions from several who heard […]