Revolution Lullabye

June 12, 2009

Perl, Understanding Composing

Perl, Sondra. “Understanding Composing.” CCC 31:4 (Dec 1980) 363-369.

Perl develops a model of composing based on her findings from research with think-aloud protocols of teachers of writing. She points out three ways writers go back and revise their thinking and writing (rereading, going back to a topic or key word, and going back to the felt sense that the topic creates.) Perl argues that this┬áthird way – tapping into emotions, feelings, and ideas that are not yet put in words – has not been adequately studied for its effect on a writer’s writing process. She calls this use of the felt sense, which she believes experienced writers rely on, as “a process of retrospective structuring,” of figuring out how writing feels right or wrong, how it makes a writer think. This retrospective structuring is in contrast to another important process of writing, “projective structuring,” in which the writer puts herself in the position of the reader and structures writing with that perspective. Both struturing processes are necessary for creating meaning in writing.

Quotable Quotes

“In writing, meaning is crafted and constructed.” (367) – not something tangible to be found

Notable Notes

her retrospective/projective structuring is like the reader-centered/writer-centered model

January 23, 2009

Lunsford and Ede, “Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked”

This (and subsequent posts) were in editions 2, 3, and 4 of The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook.

Lunsford, Andrea and Lisa Ede. “Audience Addressed/Audience Invoked: The Role of Audience in Composition Theory and Pedagogy” 243-257.

The two ways of thinking of a writer’s audience – audience addressed (an actual, researchable, real-world audience) and audience invoked (an audience that is imagined and created by the writer) – have significant shortcomings by themselves, but when combined, they form a more complex, accurate understanding of how audiences are formed, how they function, and how the circular relationship between writers and readers work. The major problems with the audience addressed model include the absence of the writer as a reader who forms an internal dialogue with the emerging text, constantly analyzing, getting feedback, and creating their own vision of who the audience might be. With the audience invoked model, there is an overemphasis of the Ong distinction between written and spoken communication (oral communicators can know their audiences; written communicators can’t), resulting in a writer-centered text that doesn’t take into consideration the concerns of potential readers. Lunsford and Ede emphasize the importance of the writer as a reader of their own work as part of the writing process.

Quotable Quotes

“Writers create readers and readers create writers” – that’s how communication happens (257)

“The most complete understanding of audience thus involves a synthesis of the perspectives we have termed audience addressed, with its focus on the reader, and audience invoked, with its focus on the writer” (255).

“integrated, interdependent nature of reading and writing” (256).

The two models fail to recognize “(1) the fluid, dynamic character of rhetorical situations; and (2) the integrated, interdependent nature of reading and writing” (244).

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