Document Type

Forum Theme 1


“Muddled writing is muddled thinking,” wrote my professor, challenging me to revise one of my first essays in graduate school. Indeed, the process of reconciling writing and thinking is a lifelong challenge for writers. The challenge is even more daunting as you try to teach others how to communicate ideas effectively on paper. As I grade my student papers, I am continuously pondering how I can encourage my students to engage their sociological imagination, encourage them to be mindfully skeptical citizens, while addressing the ‘correctness’ and ‘basic skills’ of writing. Grant argues for the need to re-couple writing to its more rhetorical/analytical traditions. That is, to appreciate writing as more than a composition of grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs, taught in mandatory writing courses, but rather, as bound up to “ contingencies of audience, purpose and context” (p.1). Grant defines rhetoric “as effective use of language, irrespective of whether or not it is grammatically proper or correct” (p.6). This is music to the ears of those of us who see writing (and re-writing) as an intimate intellectual process, but also as a contextual skill that can be learned. It is also very relevant for those who have had to relearn the craft in a second language or as part of one’s professional development as one acquires the language of a new discipline.

Publication Date

Fall 2010

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©2010 Xavier Escandell



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