I’m almost done with my MA in English.

It’s been a rough semester. Between COVID, insurrections, the cop’s apparent inability to stop killing Black people, even while one of them is being convicted for killing a Black person, I’ve been mentally exhausted. But, I’m here. I’ve got one class meeting, two papers to write, and that will be it for coursework in my Master’s degree. It’s surreal to think about, really. I never thought I’d be here. And now that I’m here, it’s very different than I thought it would be. The past decade or so, I have come to love and appreciate myself as a Black person. I look back and realize that I internalized a lot of anti-blackness. This is no surprise. Society is built this way. It is impossible to escape white supremacist ideology unscathed.

Coming into my MA, I knew that I was tired of reading white men. I completed an entire degree in Literature and read white men almost exclusively. I wanted to connect with a literary heritage from people who looked like me. I think back and wonder how any Literature program could let a student graduate without reading Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, or Zora Neale Hurston. I wonder why I had to find authors like Colson Whitehead, Ta Nehisi Coates, NK Jemesin, Octavia Butler, Kimberle Crenshaw, June Jordan, Audre Lord, bell hooks, etc. I mean, I know why. It just shouldn’t happen. Of course, it was impossible to avoid reading white men while doing my MA, but I made sure to approach everything through a racial lens. Wherever possible I brought in Black authors, particularly Black women (#citeblackwomen), to contribute to my knowledge and the conversation. In my first year, I thought my thesis would be about how Straight White Men dominate the literary canon, or how few authors of color there are in the topic of rhetoric. The Faculty at CSU Pueblo have been outstanding and supportive. My topics were valid, accepted, and even though most of them are white men, they gave me resources and scholars talking about the same things I was. I’m going to add a reading list for my MA here soon. Both assigned and things I’m researching and reading on my own.

Anyway, as I dug deeper into the readings, I saw that everything I wanted to talk about was…already talked. Extensively. With like, research and data and shit. And so I started to think about where I could find my own topic within this conversation. I took thesis credits dedicated to this. But then, last Fall, I took a creative writing class. Through my education, I’ve internalized the belief that genre fiction was somehow less than “literary.” But, as Felicia Rose Chavez says in her book The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, “‘Literary,’ in sum, means gatekeeper.” The teachers I’ve had, some on purpose, and others through the same pedagogy designed to uphold white supremacist ideology, ingrained in me this belief. It is in the past few years that I’ve managed to see outside of what I’ve been taught, been able to begin unlearning this dogma. And so, in this creative writing class I tasked myself with writing five stories in five different genres. And I wrote them all with Black characters. Something I have previously been unable to do until recently, because even in my mind, whiteness was the default. But getting over this gave me a creative freedom I didn’t know was missing. The stories, I think, were all pretty good, but one in particular was great. Some days when I go run, it’s hard, and I run out of breath really quick and I have to push through just to get my miles in. But some days, it’s easy, and I feel like I could run for miles. That’s what this story was like. When I finished it, I felt a sensation I’ve rarely felt with my fiction.

It was a story titled, “After the Accident,” and because of that feeling, and this sense of finally discovering my voice, I chose to pursue a creative thesis. I’ll be writing a collection of short stories this summer and a framework that I feel is aimed at Black students in English programs.

Tomorrow is the very last class of coursework for my Master’s Degree. This summer, I’m going to write and read, and write and read. But right now, I’m taking a breath to acknowledge how far I’ve come and what tomorrow’s class means. I never thought I’d be in the position I’m in now: Graduate school, teaching, and exploring my connection to and legacy of Black literary figures. But I am. And I think with the prospect of my death as a Black man in the news daily, I think these moments of respite are both earned and necessary.

I have grading to do and two papers to write, but that’s easy stuff at this point. Tonight I’m gonna chill and watch TV, and revel in the fact that, after tomorrow, this portion of my academic journey reaches its conclusion.


I accidentally bought a website.

So I had a blog, and I paid for the domain name “A Black Lit Major.” I let it expire since I rarely ever updated it. Then, wordpress sends me an email with a great sale for, what I thought, was my blog domain. Happily, I paid for it, and then I go to edit my blog and it wasn’t showing my purchase. Because I bought a website.

So now I’ve got a website that, I’ll be honest, is just a more difficult to create blog. But, anyway, Imma try to update stuff more frequently.

I got a lot on my mind. I’m reading a lot as I finish my MA.

So, yeah.

RIP Ahmaud Arbery

I own a black panther wallet.  When my wife got it for me, I was overjoyed. It’s black with a silver, metal Black Panther logo.  I immediately put everything from my old wallet in this new, Black Panther one.  Because T’Challa is awesome, you see.

One day, while driving.  I looked over to the cup holder (where my wallet always is when I’m driving, never in my pocket where I’ll have to reach for it if I get pulled over and asked for it), I noticed that the way the black and silver metal played against each other looked kind of like not a wallet.  Were a cop to pull me over, they might see that not a wallet looking thing and think, “That’s gotta be a weapon.” We’ve seen time and again across the nation that it doesn’t matter what an object actually is.  All it takes for a cop to “fear for their life” when black men are involved is the belief they’re in danger.  I’m a large black man, so that belief will happen as soon as they see me.  Something that looks like not a wallet could, potentially, push a cop over.

So I stopped using the wallet. It’s in my desk now.

Last night, news of another black man being murdered broke.  People everywhere were sharing video of this modern day lynching.  I’ve only watched one of these videos, Phillando Castille, and I’ll never do it again. Something broke in me after seeing it. I think it was how calm his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was after witnessing the murder, and how there was a child in the backseat when the bullets were fired.  How cavalier the cop was with three black lives in the car. How easy it would have been for the child to be orphaned if  Diamond had reacted in any way other than how she did. I’m forced to wonder how much a black life is worth.

I think it’s safe to say that most black people have rituals to try and mitigate danger.  I know that my size makes me a target, and so I have worked to make myself smaller in public. During this pandemic, while many of us are wearing masks, I have moments of panic that the white people I pass in stores cannot see me smile, cannot see the efforts I make to show that I am not a threat.

When I get in the car, I make sure my wallet is visible. When I go into a gas station, I make sure that my hands can be seen. I make sure that I’m making eye contact with clerks. When we’re out with friends and an order is wrong, or we need to address the staff in any way, I make sure that my wife does.  I would never want to be considered a loud, angry black man.  But ultimately, I think what I struggle with is that none of this matters, because it’s only going to take one mistake. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. One unfortunate encounter with the police.  Because of the environment in which I grew up, violence makes me uncomfortable.  I cannot stand when people yell. I watched a boxing match with friends and had random bouts of crying for a week after.

But I know that none of this will matter.  If something were to happen to me, I would be painted in the most terrible light by the media. Every excuse to justify my murder would be made. I know that there are people value me, my life.  I know this. I revel in the love and community I find myself surrounded by.  I know that I’m lucky. But I also know that I’m not unique in this. I know that we’re loved by our communities everywhere.

Ahmaud Arbery was murdered on February 23rd.  Today is May 7th.  There is video of his murder, this modern day lynching.  People in power, with authority, saw this footage and sat on it for almost two months. Ahmaud’s family were lied to.  They have had to sit with a tragedy, with no justice, without charges brought against the murderers for almost two months.

This is how I know black lives don’t matter.  And this is why I’m tired. I’m so sad that something like this is even possible, but the weight of not being surprised is even worse. It took this video being leaked to the public for those in power to do what they should have done on February 23rd.

This could have been swept under the rug and they had video evidence.  I’m just here thinking about all of the people who are getting killed without footage being caught.

My wife tells me to stop going outside. The worst part is that she’s only partly joking.



Rhetorical Precis – What even are weeks anymore?

George, Diana. “From analysis to design: Visual communication in the teaching of writing.” College composition and communication (2002): 11-39.

In the academic journal article “From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing” Diana George argues that the history of visual literacy in English composition classrooms has both altered the perception and changed the implementation of visual literacy in classrooms. George develops her argument by analyzing the history of literacy through foundational texts and explaining in her words how these have impacted visual literacy throughout the decades. George argues for visual literacy in order to implement the practice as a core tenant in classrooms alongside the written word. The intended audience is instructors of English composition, but I think it goes beyond that, since visual rhetoric is a part of our every day lives.  I think this is a very important article both for the argument and the foundational texts George cites.  We are, as George says, an “aggressively visual culture,” and so keeping this element from classrooms as it relates to rhetoric is a mistake for multiple reasons, first among them it is the first way many of us learn how to communicate language.


Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “Made not only in words: Composition in a new key.” College Composition and Communication 56.2 (2004): 297-328.

In the academic journal article (and speech transcript?) “Made Not only in Words: Composition in a New Key,” Kathleen Blake Yancey  explores the modern history of Composition, analyzing what she believes are key moments in the history of composition. Yancey develops her argument by contextualizing and explaining these key moments, the history, and the impact in the classrooms.  Yancey does this in order to strengthen her argument of a need to focus on three key changes for a new curriculum and to develop a new major: composition and rhetoric. This is intended for colleges and instructors, or anybody else in control of developing and implementing a major shift in ideology and curriculum change. This is a great text to read to give some context to the shift that English programs have been, and are going through, in this historical moment.  From enrollment patterns to shifts in ideology and program changes, Yancey provides a thorough explanation that gives credence to her argument for a new major.


Johnson, Lamar L. “Where do we go from here? Toward a critical race English education.” Research in the Teaching of English 53.2 (2018): 102-124.

In the academic journal article “Where do we go from here? Toward a critical race English Education,” argues that traditional English curriculum does not value, and indeed can cause harm to, African American students and the causes need to be addressed.  Lamar develops his argument through definition of terms and a brief history and explanation of other academic scholars whose work precedes this article using CREE as the lens to analyze these works. Lamar writes this in order to integrate a more welcoming and wholesome curriculum for black students. The audience is teachers and anybody else with a desire to understand how Eurocentric syllabi can impact students from other histories and cultures. This article was very personal to me, and also showed me how  personal narrative and research can weave together and make a more compelling paper.  This is an especially relevant paper now, considering the current political climate we’re going through, but also a good exploration of the historical precedent leading to where we find ourselves today.


Hendrickson, Brian, and Genevieve Garcia de Mueller. “Inviting students to determine for themselves what it means to write across the disciplines.” (2016).

In the academic journal article “Inviting Students to determine for themselves what it means to write across the disciplines” Brian Hendrickson and Genevieve Garcia de Mueller analyze what it means to teach across and through disciplines for students from backgrounds of low socioeconomic income or underrepresented communities.  They develop their argument through exploration of other programs and the deficits they believe they saw there when accounting for the aforementioned groups.  Their purpose is to acknowledge the differences in background these students bring in order to allow them to feel more involved and welcome in an academic environment, as well as lending authenticity to the lived experience of students who might think they do not belong in the classroom. This article is intended for educators of all kinds and invites them to look at their courses, curriculums, and students through a different lens.  Their desire is to avoid treating students as “a generalized construct” and focus on “specific histories, experiences, and ‘vernacular literacies’” (76). I appreciated this article as a primer for resources on other scholars are writing that give arguments and credence to treating students as individuals, as well as focusing on those from lower socioeconomic incomes or backgrounds. Academia should be welcoming of all students, and this gives details on the arguments about how to begin and work toward this goal.

LIT 501 – Week 12 – Rhetorical Precis

Womack, Anne-Marie. “Teaching is accommodation: Universally designing composition classrooms and syllabi.” College Composition and Communication 68.3 (2017): 494.

In the academic article “Teaching is Accommodation,” Anne-Marie Womack (2017) argues that how accommodations in the classroom is traditionally defined is limited and an obstacle for inclusive and efficient teaching. Womack develops her argument through a history of how “accommodation” has been defined by law and applied to the classroom by various institutions and instructors, and giving examples of why or why not these combine to create or solve problems. The author explores this topic in order to develop a more cohesive, “universal design” approach for a classroom environment and syllabus. The audience for this article is teachers and administration in education. Working around teachers, I hear many arguments for and against accommodations, but Womack saying that “’Reasonable accommodation is institutionally designed to change the least possible amount” (496) resonated with me. There are many things we can do in order to be more inclusive, and many things, at one point or another could be considered an accommodation.  Universal design tries to be inclusive of all student’s needs, which has the additional benefit of not making those who require an accommodation because of a disability feel as though they require more, or special, attention.


Wasley, Paula. “Research Yields Tips on Crafting Better Syllabi.” Chronicle of Higher Education 54.27 (2008).

In an article titled “Research Yield Tips on Crafting Beetter Syllabi” by Paula Wasley (2008) found on the Chronicle of Higher Education Website, the author provides four tips for writing better syllabi. Wasley gives weight to these tips by providing each, and then giving examples from other teachers and students explaining how each was valuable information. Wasley gives these tips in order to provide instructors with some “best practices” while writing their syllabi. The audience for this is teachers of all levels.  I think this is some valuable information that could be universally applied to any syllabi and would be beneficial to both instructor and student.

LIT 501 – Week 9 – Rhetorical Precise

Bartholomae, David. “Inventing the University.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 629-653.

In the academic article “Inventing the University,” David Bartholomae explores the challenges a “basic writer” will have while writing papers across disciplines in college. The author supports his research by giving examples of student writing while explaining the difficulties a student would have within the topics, the research, and across classrooms. Bartholomae digs into this topic in order to focus on the student experience and ask instructors to reconcile the various parts of the student that create everything written for a paper and its topic. The audience for this essay is primarily teachers, though I think it would be gratifying for a student to read opinions and research like this from professors. “I am continually impressed by the patience and goodwill of our students” (624) Bartholomae says. I think it is easy to forget how difficult a thing it is not only to write, but to then hand in said writing to be judged and quantified for quality. And students are asked to do this across disciplines, whether they care about the class or topic or not. I think, more than anything, this essay is a good reminder that students should come first, and to spend more time thinking about where they come from, and everything they’re required to do while going to college.  Inside and out.


Pasque, Penny A., et al. “Pedagogical approaches to student racial conflict in the classroom.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 6.1 (2013): 1.

In the academic article “Pedagogical approaches to student racial conflict in the classroom” Penny Pasque, et al (2013) study numerous teachers across disciplines to explore, outline, and highlight the various approaches in regard to racial conflict. The authors studied 66 teachers along with 31 researchers, observed classrooms, and interviewed the teachers after to collect the data to write this essay. The authors explore the interactions of students and teachers in moments of racial conflict in order to categorize and explore possible pedagogical practices for difficult to teach moments in classrooms. This is primarily for teachers but would work anybody in an area of work where diversity is important. I appreciated such a wide breadth and depth of instructors, giving a glimpse into the various types of interactions I myself have witnessed. Though the research and examples given were great, the type of classrooms these events happened in seem to lend themselves to exploration of the topics. I wonder how one would do the “fish bowl” technique in an English or Science class, or if that would even be the place for it. I know there is not an answer for diversity work, but it was amusing for them to end on that note after all of the research.


Week 8 – Rhetorical Precis

Bizzell, Patricia. “’Contact Zones’ and English Studies.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 479-486.

In the academic journal article “’Contact Zones’ and English Studies,” Patricia Bizzell (1994) argues for a change in the way English is organized based on ‘contact zones,’ which are “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in the contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” (Pratt 482). The research of this paper is equal parts literature review for context of contact zones, and also empirical experience as a teacher, student, and reader.  Bizzell writes this in order to challenge existing norms in literary canonpursuing new model that “treats difference as an asset, not a liability” (483). The audience for this essay is teachers, researchers, and those who are involved in creating what is considered the “canon.” I graduated with a BA in literature and never read Toni Morrison or James Baldwin because I was unable to take an African American Literature class. I think there is something lost when so many authors are siloed under the topics that have been established for so long. This is an essay that exposed me to a term and ideas that I felt but did not know was a topic of research.  

Lu, Min-Zhan. “Professing Multiculturalism: The Politics of Style in the Contact Zone.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 487-503.

In the academic journal article “Professing Multiculturalism: The Politics of Style in the Contact Zone,” Min-Zhan Lu attempts to contextualize aspects of multicultural writing that appears to be a mistake due to a perception of “standard” English, devoid of consideration of diversity and cultural aspects of speech and communication. Lu’s support for her argument is developed through literature review, beginning with a definition of Pratt’s “Contact Zones,” and exploring both professional and student writing. Lu’s essay is a challenge to “common” writing practices in order to change how composition is taught and graded. The intended audience is researchers, teachers, and others who touch the theory of Pratt’s Contact Zones.  This essay focuses on how diversity and contact zones relates to the act and process of composition in the classrooms, and in published works.  Lu says that there is a prevalent belief in classrooms that a “monolingual environment is the most conducive to learning of ‘beginners’ or outsiders.’ This belief overlooks the dialogical nature of students’ ‘inner voices’ as well as the multicultural context of students’ lives” (493).  This is an essay that touches on many things especially relevant to my own beliefs and future research; by creating this standard and enforcing it as “correct” and other dialects as “errors” creates a dichotomy of thought in teachers and students.  But more than that, can instill a belief of inferiority in the own language and culture students bring with them to the classroom as they are told to unlearn a part of themselves to do well in school.


LIT 501 – Week 7- Rhetorical Precis

Flower, Linda & Hayes, John R. “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 273-298.

In the academic article “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing,” Flower and Hayes (1981) detail a concrete exploration of the decision-making process writers make while writing. The authors support their research through studying and compiling the writing process of numerous writers. Flower and Hayes explore this topic in order to provide an explanation and definition of a process that is, for many people, simply theoretical. The audience for this essay is writers and teachers. This is an extremely helpful essay that provides definitions for parts of the writing process that most people do, but not everybody knows. The “process” is different for everybody, but what this essay accomplishes is providing explanations for each part and showing that, even if it is different for everybody, parts of it are similar, and all of it is important even if not to the same degree for all writers.  The authors say, “By placing emphasis on the inventive power of the writer, who is able to explore ideas, to develop, act on, test, and regenerate his or her own goals, we are putting…creativity where it belongs…in the hands of the working, thinking writer” (296). I think what this essay does is make plain the parts of writing, giving definitions to things we might unconsciously do as writers, which allows us to make more conscious decisions when writing.

Lunsford, Andrea A. “Cognitive Development and the Basic Writer.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 299-310.

In the academic article “Cognitive Development and the Basic Writer” Lunsford (XX) argues the concepts and difficulties that create what she considers a “basic” writer, and how to overcome these hurdles.  Lunsford supports their argument with rhetorical, grammatical, and writing exercises.  Lunsford explores the difference between rote memorization and actual understanding in order to focus on the purpose of learning and teaching; the former is a barrier to learning, and the latter should be the goal of teaching. The audience for this essay is teachers, especially those in early composition or developmental rhetoric classes. Thinking about the difficulties that learning students will encounter is a very fundamental approach to pedagogy, so I appreciated the delineation in “cognitive development” that a “basic writer” might have. The leap from being able to perform a task, as a bais to thinking creatively about said tasks implications and forming one’s own ideas from this is large, but, I think, can be lost when somebody is only concerned about grades.

Rose, Mike. “Narrowing the Mind and Page: Remedial Writers and Cognitive Reductionism.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 345.

In the academic article “Narrowing the Mind and Page: Remedial Writers and Cognitive Reductionism” Mike Rose (1988) argues that the ways in which academia of the time write, talk, and theorize about “poor” writers can have limiting and adverse impact on both the students, and the teachers of theory and pedagogy. Rose supports his argument with literature review, citing writers such as Merlin Wittrock and Witkin, Moore, Goodenough, and Cox. Rose approaches this topic in order to challenge the assumption some may have of “remedial writers” as poor writers that are unable to “form abstractions; they are incapable of analysis; they perceive the world as an undifferentiated whole” (346). The intended audience is teachers and pedagogical theorists. This was an extremely interesting exploration and defense of so called remedial writers from an established theorist.  He challenges the claims of several articles we’ve read, as well as introducing other theories to explore. There is value in many of the writers he explores, but Rose makes sure to speak about the strengths of each as related to cognitive reductionism, as well as the weaknesses. 


LIT 501 – Week 6 – Rhetorical Precis

Hairston, Maxine. “On Not Being a Composition Slave.” Training the New Teacher of College Composition. 1986. 117-124.

In the academic journal article, “On Not Being a Composition Slave” Maxine Hairston (1986) challenges the conventional wisdom that teachers “have known what they were doing” (117).  Hairston develops her argument through a light literature review and drawing on her own experiences in the classroom. Hairston writes this essay in order to challenge what is being done in classrooms so that teachers and students can grow going forward; grading and writing should not be something teacher and student dread doing.  Creating better processes for both will benefit everybody.  Hairston’s argument is primarily for teachers, pointing out that many in academia have had no formal training and acknowledging that fact to create awareness of the gaps in pedagogical knowledge each person carries to the classroom. I appreciated how candid this essay was.  It confirmed that academia is making up best practices as we go along and adding to that list of best practices the necessity to acknowledge holes and to appreciate that what might have worked could be improved upon, or might not be working anymore (or ever worked in the first place).

Koerber, Amy, Still, Brian. “Listening to Students: A Usability Evaluation of Instructor Commentary.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 24, No. 2. 2010. 207-233.

IN the academic journal article, “Listening to Students: A Usability Evaluation of Instructor Commentary,” Amy Koerber and Brian Still reports on a variety of usability methods and how they can be detrimental or beneficial for the end user, both student and teachers.  The authors develop their argument through human subjects with various tests of different UI methods for the delivery of instructor commentary. Koerber and Still explore this topic in order to clarify the most effective and efficient way to communicate commentary for both instructor and student. The technical depth that Koerber and Still delve into lends itself toward teachers, but I think that anybody can benefit from learning the “why” of how something works, from learning to how we communicate what we’d like to be learning.  This was a great article with a very different approach from what we’ve read so far. I appreciated the analyses the authors provided. It gave a very different look at something integral to teaching, which allowed me to appreciate another way of looking and writing about a topic.

Sommers, Nancy. “Responding to Student Writing.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 33, No. 2. 1982. 148-156.

In the academic journal article, “Responding to Student Writing,” Nancy Sommers (1982) explores the purpose and impact a teacher’s comment can have upon the writing of their students. Sommers and her colleagues researched the comments of thirty-five teachers on first and second draft assignments. Sommers research is in order to find the impact different commenting styles have upon student drafts, and how to more encourage and enable a student to retain their own style and learn more effective communication in the process. This is a very compelling exploration of the grading process.  I particularly appreciated the numerous student writing samples presented with examples of comments made, and the reception of the student afterward.  This research is a way to challenge the “overwhelming similarity in the generalities and abstract commands given to students” (153). I have marked this article as one to come back to when I have a question on the how-to and whys of grading a student’s papers.

LIT 501 – Week 5 – Rhetorical Precis

Williams, Joseph M.. “The Phenomenology of Error.” College Composition and Communication, Vol. 31, No. 2. 1981. 152-168.

In the academic journal article, “The Phenomenology of Error,” Joseph Williams (1981) explores the response writers and grammarians have when encountering specific errors in writing. Williams develops his argument through literature review, first-hand interviews and experience, and ends with an attempt to calculate the response errors can evoke in a reader. Williams writes this paper in order to quantify and explain that the grammar rules we follow are arbitrary, the response to mistakes random and confusing to students. He says, “We need not believe that just because a rule of grammar finds its way into some handbook of usage, we have to honor it” (164) and uses in his examples to the contrary numerous writers, authors, and academics. Williams’ audience is primarily teachers, as he concerns himself with grading numerous times throughout the article, but can be expanded to anybody who has influence and judgment over another’s writing. I find the argument compelling, since grammar is arbitrary and most people I have known to study English have absorbed grammar through reading and writing and are not able to clearly explain the “why” of what is. It is validating to have a researched paper espousing my belief that as long as intent is clear, then the specific matters of grammar are an underlying issue of which to make note. And it is not lost on me that I just (awkwardly) rearranged my sentence to avoid a split infinitive.

Hartwell, Patrick. “Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Second ed. United States: National Council of Teachers of English, 2003. 141-233.

In the academic journal article, “Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar,” Patrick Hartwell (1985) explains the difficulty and the different schools of thought on the issue of teaching grammar. Williams exploration is done by acknowledging and explaining two fundamental “schools of thought”: grammarians and anti-grammarians. Hartwell writes this paper in order to have a common middle ground from which to start when speaking, debating, and teaching about the instruction of grammar. Hartwell writes to anybody who cares about writing and communication; the rigidity, judgment, and structure of grammar impacts everybody in every language. The issue with teaching grammar is very well summarized in the opening paragraph as Hartwell states, “the assumption that students will learn only what we teach and only because we teach” is an example of magical thinking. Language changes with each person it touches, and the codification cannot, and should not, reach everybody. As to Hartwell’s purpose, I think he explores the issues very well, and the definitions and attempts to remain neutral as the two main arguments are explored and explained. This will be a very useful paper to use for research when thinking about the how and why of teaching grammar and its importance in the classroom.

Bartholomae, David. “The Study of Error.” College Composition and Communication, Vol 31, No. 3. 1980. 253-269.

In the academic journal article, “The Study of Error,” David Bartholomae argues the definition and application of “Basic Writing” in academic writing courses. Bartholomae develops his argument through literature review and case studies, including examples of his own classroom and students. Bartholomae writes in order to more clearly define what basic writing is and, as such, how to teach and communicate better to students in the classroom precisely what the goal is in learning how to write. Bartholomae writes this paper in order to challenge the teacher’s notion of what an error is, and in so doing can be killing a student or person’s particular voice in an effort to have uniform consistency. He says that “We have read, rather, as policemen, examiners, gate-keepers” (255). Bartholomae writes for teachers, attempting to redefine the idea of “basic writing.” Bartholomae saying that “we,” the teachers, have been policeman struck a very personal cord, and has me reexamining and thinking about the ways in which I have traditionally interacted with people on the topic of writing, and particularly when it comes time to correct or judge any piece of writing. I have said in the past that learning of “standard” english is a way of gentrifying culture and upholding the status quo. This is also true of the police who are often called in to quell disturbances against that same thing. I have to believe a writer knew what that word meant, even 40 years ago, in the comparison to teachers, but if not, it made me read the paper differently, not as a mere opinion, but more as a call to action.