4C’s presentation

Here’s the proposal I submitted to Cs:

Essaying (a) Place in Invention Studies

This presentation identifies the topos of place as integral to theoretical discussions of invention and prewriting processes in order to reconsider the ways in which composition teachers discuss invention and prewriting strategies with students. Historically, invention and prewriting theorists such as Patricia Bizzell (1982), Karen LeFevre (1987), and D. Gordon Rohman (1965) have identified invention processes as being either inside of or external to writers as they write, unintentionally creating a binary in which either internal processes or external influences are privileged. In Genre and the Invention of the Writer (2003), Anis Bawarshi points out the need for invention theories to go beyond an either/or binary to a both/and conception of the importance of personal and social influences on invention and prewriting processes. Bawarshi sees internal and external invention processes intersecting most clearly in the space of the genres in which writers write. I use the topos of place in invention studies to complicate Bawarshi’s theory of an intersection of internal and external forces; my presentation suggests that invention occurs in messy, borderland spaces where internal and external forces blur together as writers compose texts. The presentation ends by considering the genre of the essay as providing a particularly apt space in which students might better understand the messiness of invention as internal and external influences come together.

In order to provide a theoretical basis for my focus on the genre of the essay, I turn to rhetorical genre theorists (Bakhtin; Bawarshi; Devitt; C. Miller) to flesh out my view of the essay as an active rhetorical space where writers can begin to critically analyze their invention strategies. Traditionally, the essay is described as a “loose” or “baggy” (Butrym 3) form, and this presentation contends that it is precisely this looseness-this in-between-ness-which makes the essay a prime space to discuss the messiness of invention processes. The essay is a genre that invites more than an intersection of forces; in many ways, essays encourage writers to see multiple and contradictory viewpoints that they hold in relation to a topic, which can lead to a chaotic and messy inventive moment in which writers accept the kairotic situatedness of their opinions.  My focus on the essay as a genre in which to investigate invention with students extends my initial discussion of the topos of place in invention studies, as the space of the essay as a genre also exposes the importance of places (material or otherwise) to discussions of invention.

 I’m not sure I know what any of this means anymore, if I ever really did. . .I think I intended on presenting a little bit of chapter 2 and (maybe) chapter 3, which has yet to exist because I’m behind on the timeline I submitted with my prospectus. Of course. I’m thinking it would be better for me to talk from notes rather than read a paper. Don’t know about having a handout, though; it doesn’t seem necessary given the topic.

So what will I talk about? A little of this, a little of that: start with an overview of stuff I wrote about in chapter 2, then move into my theories about chapter 3, perhaps even ending with some stuff from chapter 4? Maybe.

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