On Being a Hypocrite

My thesis, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  My-the-sis: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at two, on the teeth.  My. The. Sis.

Does not work as well as the original, but close enough.

I sat down to write a blog entry two or three weeks ago, and it turned into a 2,000 word screed on the ridiculousness of the tropes within academic writing, specifically the premise-setting (My topic has been around longer than man’s use of fire but I’m the first person to approach it from this angle) and the overwhelming use of subtitles.  Also included was a rant about the unnatural divide/false binary between academic and creative writing.  Naturally I’m going to try to get it published and ruin my chances at a serious academic career.

That said, the premise above feeds into my thesis for two reasons.  As a reminder, my thesis topic is the use of personal writing (I-writing, to borrow from Karen Surman Paley) as a rhetorical device within (within meaning the personal writing is not the topic/prompt) essays of first-year composition students.

Reason 1)  Part of the question I’m asking within this thesis is whether or not personal writing has become an accepted rhetorical maneuver to use within the academic tool/trope box.  Stated otherwise, can personal writing coexist with academic work for the professors who actually teach first-year composition (not just the ones who write about first-year composition)?

Reason 2)  A lot of the things I’m making fun of in academic writing?  Yeah, they’re in my thesis.  Coloned subtitle?  It’s there.  Overt repetition of self?  Oh yeah.  Subtly implying that my work is a unique shining star?  Well, I haven’t made myself do that yet, but it’s probably coming.

I think everyone goes through moments like these, especially with jobs and sometimes with social groups, where they think the rituals of that group are a little ridiculous/overly esoteric but you end up doing them anyway because membership within that group is more important than defiance against the rituals.  One of my professors talks about this a lot, about how he believes strongly in allowing people the right to use their home language as their dominant language within the classroom and society at large, and yet he still requires his essays to be turned in in English, or if they include other languages, with English translations.  I don’t mean to imply that me thinking coloned subtitles are a little silly is on par with the linguistic oppression carried out in pedagogy, but rather that we all make small sacrifices to be where we want to be, I think.

Tell me your stories about the divides between the academic and the creative, or the esotericism of your groups.  And while you’re doing that, watch this animated interview with David Foster Wallace, as well as the other amazing interviews on the Blank on Blank website.


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