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June 2011

desire vs. constraints

If the blogosphere proves anything, it is that writing just wants to be free.   People want to express themselves on whatever topic or subject fuels their passions.   So, what does this mean (or what has this meant) for composition studies?  Perhaps composition studies can take a lesson from the developments in the blogosphere and reconsider the role of desire in spurring on student writing.  For the most part, composition studies has been about imposing constraints on student writing, i.e., telling them what to write and especially how to write -- not taking into consideration students' desires to write.   Of course, this is not true of all comp teachers, yet there appears in the journals an unhealthy dosage of "johnny can't write" complaints of some kind or another and then a listing of remedies for addressing those complaints.  But if we look at writing from the standpoint of what fuels the desire to write then those complaints go out the window.  Such a standpoint involves mutually examining with students what makes them want to write and then fashioning the conditions that will lead to such writing.