Friday, February 4, 2011

A Comment on "'Inventing the University' at 25: An Interview with David Bartholomae"

In College English 73.3, John Schlib conducts an email interview of David Bartholomae, author of "perhaps the most often cited and discussed essay in composition studies" (260) and so one of the major figures in the field.  In the course of the interview, Bartholomae notes that "a certain form of close the essential lesson for any writer/reader/thinker" (271).  He also discusses having created, working with others, "a curriculum where reading and writing assignments were sequenced, so that students worked on a semester-long project" (273).

I like to think that my own composition assignments work in this way.  I strive to set things up to promote attention to specific details, which aligns with Bartholomae's claim for close reading.  I also have explicitly sequenced assignments so that the first paper, a definition, makes possible the second and third papers (classification and focused comparison/contrast, respectively), and that one of the three early papers becomes the long later paper.  It makes of the term a single, extended project, such as that for which Bartholomae calls.

There is validation in having ideas show up in the mouths--or in this case, the inboxes--of major figures in the field.

Work Cited
Bartholomae, David, and John Schlib. "'Inventing the University' at 25: An Interview with David Bartholomae." College English 73.3 (January 2011): 260-82. Print.

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