Revolution Lullabye

February 9, 2016

Robillard, Prototypical Reading: Volume, Desire, Anxiety

Robillard, Amy E. “Prototypical Reading: Volume, Desire, Anxiety.” College Composition and Communication 67.2 (December 2015): 197-215.

Robillard introduces a new way to conceptualize plagiarism: that writers plagiarize not from a lack of ethics nor a lack of knowledge of citation conventions but rather a lack of reading, that is, a lack of thorough reading in the conversations about the subject matter the writer is writing about. Robillard uses this concept (which forefronts the connection between reading and plagiarism) her own experience, and Philip Eubanks’ work on metaphor and writing to explore the terms and prototypes of writer, to write, reader, to read. Robillard argues that our common conception (our prototype) of reader and to read privileges volume of reading, which causes us as teachers and scholars to think about reading in terms of how much we (or our students) are doing instead of what and how we are reading. Robillard suggests that our reading processes, including how we find and collect our sources with which we write, is social and affective, and she wonders if conversations surrounding ownership of writing and plagiarism can extend to ownership of sources and plagiarism of those sources.

Quotable Quotes

“What I want to consider instead are the effects of telling a different kind of narrative of lack. What happens when we conceptualize my transgression not in terms of a lack of ethics or a lack of knowledge of how to cite, but a lack of thoroughness, a failure to read enough? What happens when we shift our frame for understanding plagiarism as a transgression against writing to a transgression against reading?” (200)

“I believe that conceptualizing my experience this way draws attention not just to a disciplinary ambivalence toward reading but also to a lack of disciplinary attention to the how of finding what we read.” (200)

“I want to call our disciplinary attention to a different tension, one between the prototypes of reader and to read, for the ways it affects our disciplinary conceptualizations of and conversations about reading and the relationship between reading and writing.” (200)

“Can a source be stolen in the same way that an idea or a particular passage can be stolen? Do we, in any sense, own the sources whose ideas we build upon when we theorize reading and writing?” (212)

“Reading brings pleasure; indeed, ask undergraduate English majors why they signed up for the major in the first place, and you’ll probably hear something about their love for reading. But that love usually involves identification and affective attachment that many critics would dismiss as sentimental and immature” (209).

Notable Notes

Historical divide between composition and literature led to composition’s focus on writing (lack of attention on reading and its relationship to writing, conceptualization of reading), Tate-Lindemann debate about the place of literature in composition

Reading as assemblage – how to we find, curate, collect, design our reading? (212-213)

Prototype of reader and to read = a reader reads literary (fiction) texts for pleasure, solitary act, it’s simpler to identify as a reader than to identify as a writer (206-207), we seek help for our writing but we don’t seek help for our writing (208)

Prototype of writer and to write = writer is a writer of literary texts, writing means inscribing words on a piece of paper and can be common, non-literary texts (emails, notes) (203-204)

Visibility and invisibility of reading and writing (200)

Differences between someone who cannot read and those who cannot write – deficiency narratives, the connection between thinking and writing (204)

Philip Eubanks Metaphor and Writing

Students who don’t read = lack a desire, dedication, effort, laziness (208-209)

May 25, 2009

Robillard, We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Robillard, Amy E. “We Won’t Get Fooled Again: On the Absence of Angry Responses to Plagiarism in Composition Studies.” College English 70.1 (Sept 2007): 10-31.

Robillard argues that teachers’ affective response to plagiarized student texts – justified anger – needs to be acknowledged and accepted by the discipline and used as way 1. to tap into a full understanding of plagiarism as a relationship between a writer and a reader and 2. to engage the public in conversations about writing and plagiarism. Teachers surpress their anger because they have conflicting identities as writing teachers: the caring, nuturing, student-centered, critical-pedagogy empowering teacher and the objective expert on writing and the teaching of writing. Plagiarism challenges and threatens this split identity, and the discipline has sought solutions for this problem by finding pedagogical solutions and explanations (patch-writing, summarizing.) Robillard uses teachers’ blogs to show how teachers are expressing their anger outside traditional disciplinary venues.

Quotable Quotes

“Writing teachers become dehumanized, disembodied readers of student work” (28) – what happens when their anger is denied

“We cannot have it both ways; we cannot create an identity dependent on a relationship to students that is emotionally supportive at the same time that we maintain our affectless response to plagiarism or suspected plagiarism” (27).

“To deny anger when students we care about plagiarize is to deny our humanity” (27).

“The absence of disciplinary sponsored anger in response to plagiarism thwarts our efforts to make ourselves heard in public discussions about writing in this country” (13).

“anger as social rather than individual, as political rather than neutral” (17)

“The near erasure of teachers’ anger in composition’s scholarship on plagiarism must be read as symptomatic of a disciplinary discourse that, despite much important research to the contrary, persists in suppressing the role of the reader – here, the embodied reader – in interpreting plagiarized texts” (11)

Notable Notes

the anger somewhat stems from the feeling that you were so close to missing it, to not catching plagiarism (18)

this widespread anxiety leads to an obsession to prevent plagiarism

the public doesn’t respect us (Tucker Carlson on Becky Howard’s plagiarism article) because we don’t seem angry about plagiarism, we shouldn’t keep suppressing this “collective rage” (29)

widespread denial of emotions in the academy

January 3, 2009

Csikszentmihaly, Flow

Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

Csikszentmihaly explains the principles a person must follow in order to achieve flow, the optimal experience which leads to true happiness. His theory of flow is based on the data collected by his team of researchers through the University of Chicago, who interviewed experts in diverse fields (surgeons, dancers, philosophers, mountain climbers, musicians), and gathered personal testaments from hundreds of other ordinary people around the world through a method called experience sampling, where a person wears a pager for a week and writes down their feelings and thoughts each time the pager goes off (eight randomized times a day.) His concept of flow and optimal experience builds on the theories developed by other scholars in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and is used by those in fields as varied as occupational therapy, education, design, and criminal justice.

Csikszentmihaly’s theory of optimal experience is grounded in the belief that an individual must control their own consciousness (their perception and reaction to reality) in order to achieve happiness. The universe cannot be controlled or predicted; therefore, instead of only reacting to it as a passive responder, a person who wants to achieve flow must confront the challenges life brings and find a way to make meaning out of them. That way of meaning must be intrinsically developed through a set of personal goals and purposes, for societal goals and the “shields of culture” society develops in response to the chronic frustration humans face in nature can fall apart, leading to further disillusion and anxiety. What people can control is their attention: what bits of information they choose to focus on and pay attention to.

Happiness, Csikszentmihaly argues, is achieved through participation in autotelic activities, defined as “a self-contained activity, one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward” (67). Autotelic activities have several characteristics: they are challenging activities that require skills, they occur during the merging of action and awareness, they have clear goals and feedback, they require complete concentration on the task at hand, they give the person a sense of non-threatened control, they allow the person to experience a loss of self-consciousness as the person becomes one with the activity, and they often involve a transformation of time (time slows down or speeds up.) The purpose of life, Csikszentmihaly argues, is to create a systematic pattern of optimal experiences, which can be achieved by setting goals, becoming immersed in activities that you care about, paying attention to what happens around you, and enjoying the immediate experiences of life. In the book, Csikszentmihaly shows how people can experience flow in physical activities, symbolic activities, work, relationships, and during times of extreme stress and tragedy.

Quotable Quotes

“Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their life, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy” (2).

Flow: “The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (4).

“We create ourselves by how we invest this energy” – psychic energy, attention (33)

“Cultures are defensive constructions against chaos, designed to reduce the impact of randomness on experience” (81) Cultures create goals and rules about how people should order attention.

“People without an internalized symbolic system can all too easily become captives of the media. They are easily manipulated by demagogues, pacified by entertainers, and exploited by anyone who has something to sell” (128).

“Taking up each new challenge not as something to be repressed or avoided, but as an opportunity for learning and improving skills” (172)

“Learning how to use time alone, instead of escaping from it” (171)

Notable Notes

Csikszentmihaly’s notes are contained in the back of the book, with references to the literature behind his claims for each chapter. The notes are extensive and are a condensed scholarly-referenced version of the book.

Optimal experience, flow, attention are not passive – they call on people to participate in life.

Csikszentmihaly believes that religion is not the answer for finding true happiness because it is a construct of culture, not an individually-determined creation. Old methods of liberation (from societal controls) don’t always work in different historical contexts (example: yoga in modern-day California) because the needs and purposes of people are different.

Consciousness = “intentionally ordered information” (26) because lots of information enters our brain (7 bits at a time, 40 bits a second), but we have to choose what we pay attention to and make part of our consciousness, our version of reality.

Plane of happiness: boredom — flow — anxiety/frustration

Autotelic families instill clarity, centering, choice, commitment, and challenge to their children.

The autotelic personality is created both individually and by a society that allows autotelic individuals to function and work.

History is important and enjoyable because it exercises memory. The ability to memorize allows for self, internal stimulation because the mind “is stoked with patterns of information” – an independent, autonomous mind (124).

Autotelic jobs are independent, skill-driven, challenging, and constructed like games.

People who get through ordeals well have dissipative structures that can recycle waste into order and energy: unselfconscious self-assurance, can focus attention on the world rather than themselves, and are open to discover new solutions and alternatives. (201-202)

Making all of life have meaning involves finding purpose, choosing a path of resolve, and moving in harmony with the world.

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