Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sample Summary

What appears below is excerpted and slightly adapted from another blog I maintain.

Michael-John DePalma's "Re-envisioning Religious Discourses as Rhetorical Resources in Composition Teaching: A Pragmatic Response to the Challenge of Belief" appears in the December 2011 issue of CCC.  In the article, DePalma argues that the pragmatism outlined by William James obliges composition teachers to allow the use of religious discourse by students of faith as a means to negotiate the tasks of composition and to perform the acts of knowledge production that are often encouraged in first-year writing.  In doing so, DePalma articulates the commonly-held dichotomy between religious and academic understandings, citing a fair amount of scholarship to assert that the view is widely held before applying James's pragmatism to undermining the view.  He also provides an extended case study of a former student's writing, using it as an exemplar of successful classroom performance by a student who is very much a person of faith.  DePalma is careful to point out the difficulties attendant upon opening mainstream composition teaching to the use of religious resources, but he argues that the benefits to teachers and students justify enduring the challenges thereof.  The article is an effective outline of a pedagogical approach, one well-grounded in theory and speaking to common sense.

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