Voice as Process
If you're a composition instructor, the longstanding wrangling over which voice to foster in the classroom - the native or the academic - doesn't help you teach 100 entering freshman, each with wildly different voices. In fact, the argument over voice invariably focuses on what you should be doing-not on what your student writers ARE doing.
Voice as Process looks at how student writers use the voices of home and community to develop an academic voice. Through a thorough textual analysis of student portfolios, copious interviews, and ethnographic research, Lizbeth Bryant identifies the activities that writers perform as they manipulate the voices they bring to class, and those they encounter there, into a web of constructed voices that can be adjusted to meet the needs of any writing situation. Only then, after research and reflection on student choices, does Bryant return to address the instructor's role in the process. She argues for a new view of voice - as a process of construction - and, drawing on composition and pedagogical theory, explores the implications of this view.
It's time to start focusing the debate over student voice onto student needs. "Writing teachers cannot abandon discussions of voice exclusively to the domain of theorists," writes Bryant. And while "composition scholarship has offered either/or solutions," to the voice conundrum, students need help building new voices not only for use in academic papers, but also for standardized testing, business writing, journalistic writing, scientific writing, and many other real-world applications. Read Voice as Process and be ready to support your students as they develop voices to negotiate the challenges they face in the academy and beyond.
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