Her draft begins: What exactly does the word revision mean to a writer? When studying the works of Paul Auster and John Edgar Wideman, one can see how they use many of the same principles of revision to help them in their writing process.
This is the question Adrienne Rich tries to answer in her essay "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision." If the word revision were broken down into two parts, it would look like re-vision. Auster is making an attempt to describe the man his father was, but uses many of these steps of re-vision while making his discoveries.
Getting students to construct dialogue is one thing.
But how does this dialogue exercise transfer when the students write their essays?
This assignment required that I do some scaffolding, leading students through a series of steps in a way not required by the first assignment. The class discussions have been lively; everyone seemed to connect to the readings on one level or another. "So you want us to write about all three of the readings? " "That's right." Maybe they do get it, I tell myself. I want you to engage the three texts in a dialogue," I say. We spend the remaining class time sharing in pairs and then it's time for them to go home and develop rough drafts of their essays based on at least some of the ideas that came out of their in-class dialogue writing.
And now, with the third assignment before my students, I face expressions ranging from blank stares to baleful grimaces that tell me that, this time, I may have gone too far. The rough draft is due in one week, and they are to hand in their dialogues, along with their drafts.As it turns out, someone—the director of the Rutgers Writing Program—did tell me just that. Plays are a staple of all the classes I teach, from developmental writing to freshman composition to advanced critical thinking courses.He assured me that playwriting is an ideal background for teaching expository writing. I have used works by David Mamet, Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, John Guare, Athol Fugard, and others.We're five weeks into the semester, and things are heating up. The distinguished members of your panel include Adrienne Rich, Paul Auster, and John Edgar Wideman.I just handed out the assignment sheet for the third essay. Construct an imagined dialogue among the four `voices' (the three essayists plus you) on the topic of writing as `re-vision.'" I explain that I want them to format the dialogue as though it were a script.Rich: I want to follow up on what Paul said by showing that re-vision is inherent in writing and life. Is it synonymous with the idea of "the key to the future is the past," or something like that? I'm pleased with this dialogue for two reasons: the student is allowing the three texts to interact with one another, and he is weaving his own commentary into the exchange of ideas.He also uses Rich's text to build on one of Auster's ideas.In other words, teaching composition would be my day job.If someone had told me then that my work as a dramatist would be invaluable to my composition teaching repertoire, I would not have believed her. Levine encourages students to get these writers talking to one another. I want you to imagine that you are the moderator of a panel discussion on revision (`re-vision'). 2 Date: Spring 2002 Summary: Is it possible for an inexperienced writer to juggle the ideas of several authors to create a coherent, analytical essay?