The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Teaching as Anti-Teaching / Writing as Anti-Writing

My friend (and fellow Penn Comparative Literature alumnus) Mark Sample on what’s uncritical about the critical essay:

[C]ritical thinking stands in opposition to facile thinking. Critical thinking is difficult thinking. Critical thinking is being comfortable with difficulty. And this is something else that separates the expert learner from the novice learner: experts are at ease with uncertainty, while novices are uncomfortable with what they don


Thanks for your comments, Tim. I especially like the idea of anti-teaching. I had never heard it phrased that way, but it makes sense.

I want to emphasize that I don’t think I’m any less committed to writing than anybody else in the humanities. After all, I do study literature, and somebody had to write that literature.

In fact, I would argue that writing should take precedent over reading. Don DeLillo, who is a touchstone for me in most areas of culture, has said that he writes to “learn how to think.” He goes on to say that “writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I don’t know what I think about certain subjects, even today, until I sit down and try to write about them” (Paris Review 128, Fall 1993, p. 277). Writing comes before reading, and it even comes before critical thinking.

Cognitively, developmentally, artistically, this is true: we learn to write before we learn to read. I want to recover that dynamic in my teaching. I’m simply advocating that we broaden what counts as “writing.”

Hi Mark! No, I think I get it; I’m only meaning “anti-writing” in the same sense as Wesch’s “anti-teaching” — so, like in the title, it’s “writing as anti-writing.”

As for the comparison between me and you, I was originally way more specific, talking about the chirographic/typographic word and the specific forms of paper and the book, and about how that was partly because I work on nineteenth and twentieth century stuff and you work on twentieth and twenty-first century stuff… but it got weird and wonky. “Nobody’s going to care about this but me and Mark!” I thought. And I was exactly right. 🙂

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