The Power of Writing
Dartmouth '66 in the Twenty-First Century
Publication Year: 2015
At the 1966 Dartmouth Seminar, scholars gathered to debate the direction of English Studies in the academy. This debate had far-reaching effects and arguably forever changed writing instruction in the United States. To commemorate the 45th anniversary of this gathering, Dartmouth College hosted an event both celebrating the past and looking toward the future. Then as now, there is this simple truth: writing well matters, and it matters in institutions of higher education across disciplines. Yet what it means to be a good writer in the academy and in the public sphere remains a site of controversy and discussion.
The Power of Writing: Dartmouth ’66 in the Twenty-First Century argues that any discussion of why writing well matters should extend beyond composition and rhetoric scholars to capture the knowledge that outstanding teachers and writers themselves put to work every day. The editors have brought together scholars and public intellectuals (including New York Times best-selling authors David McCullough and Steve Strogatz) from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and interdisciplinary fields to engage in a dialogue about some of the controversial questions related to writing today. Readers will engage with questions about what it means to write well and how different answers affect the teaching and learning of writing in higher education. Each anchor article—representing disciplines as varied as musicology, African studies, mathematics, and history—receives responses from Dartmouth faculty and nationally renowned faculty members in writing studies programs.
This timely and wide-ranging collection will have appeal far beyond writing instructors and is specifically designed for readers across disciplines.
Published by: Dartmouth College Press
Part 3: Interdisciplinary Studies
Foreword: The Power of Writing
Introduction: Updating Dartmouth
One | Writing about Math for the Perplexed and the Traumatized
Two | Notes toward a Theory of Writing for the Public
Kathleen Blake Yancey
Three | Writing in the Sciences
Four | The Good, Hard Work of Writing Well
Five | Growing Writers: A Response to David McCullough
Six | History as a Laboratory for the Good, Hard Work of Writing Well
Seven | Writing and States of Emergency
Hortense J. Spillers
Eight | Her Prophetic Voice: A Response to Hortense Spillers
Nine | Being the Emergency: A Response to Hortense Spillers
Melanie Benson Taylor
Ten | Listening to Write
Eleven | Writing as a Performance of Language, Listening as an Act of Empathy
Twelve | The Power of Sound and Silence
Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2015
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Power of Writing
This essay examines the mother as the primary agent of social change in Octavia E. Butler’s short story, “Bloodchild” (1984). Drawing on the theory of maternal inheritance that Hortense J. Spillers introduces in her essay, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” (1987), I argue that Butler presents mothering as a progressive force, allowing her marginalized characters—regardless of their sex—to destroy familial and communal hierarchies. I contend that a history of reproductive oppression gives Butler’s male protagonist access to the power of motherly love, what Spillers situates as a tradition of nonphallic maternal authority developed out of black women’s experiences during slavery. Positioning Butler’s male protagonist as an inheritor of this maternal authority gives prominence to Butler’s philosophy of motherly love, which situates the father as an equal progenitor of maternal power and advances the larger scholarly project of putting psychoanalytic theories of psychosexual development in dialogue with critical race and postcolonial theories.
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