"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, December 12, 2007



an update from the front lines of my senior project HELL (Bill litters my first 30 pages with hyperbolic vitriol, even though the dean of my college loved my use of personal voice, Bill believes there is "no room for introspection in an academic paper." pls, Bill. just b/c you don't have any inner feelings to explore doesn't mean i shouldn't be allowed to reflect on mine! anyway, check out my response, after this):


The good news is that your words flow smoothly and (when you're not caught up in leftwing jargon) your writing is engaging; also, you're clearly passionate about your topic, which draws readers in, and you connect your personal experience thoroughly to what few sources you use from the professional literature.
The bad news is, as my in-text comments indicate, that you start by skating along the boundary of an acceptable senior project (making heavy use of an extended personal statement in what should be a substantive chapter) for the first six pages, only to veer off into an anti-intellectual rant on page seven at which point you abandon (consistent with your rejection of formal education) connections to professional literature, adopt an uncompromising left-wing political stance by page nine, and descend on page ten into a no-holds-barred political diatribe. Much of the rest of the chapter is about Stephanie and what few sources you even acknowledge are exclusively from the student organizing political literature.
My impression is that you started out trying to be responsive both to the academic demands of the course and to your own political/educational commitments, but you got caught up in and carried away by the rhetoric, and decided to say "to hell with the demands of formal education." It's also evident to me that you've made no attempt to research any sources that might challenge your ideological convictions (or even your presumptions about facts), and you have no intention of writing for anyone other than those who already agree with you. Even-handedness and persuasion be damned!
You've got a choice to make. You are, of course, free to reject Western's academic standards and write a totally biased, ideologically based, reductionist, anti-intellectual, anti-interdisciplinary diatribe—in which case, to be consistent, you must also choose to avoid being tainted by a bachelor's degree. Or you can decide that, maybe your brief is not against all of formal education—after all, you worked hard to save Western, which offers a formal education—and perhaps you can gain insights that would be useful skills for activist organizing by learning how to engage in formal scholarship about social activism, write a project that meets the academic standards of the institution, complete the requirements for the degree, and graduate. We discussed this choice quite openly at the beginning of the semester, and I could have sworn you decided for the latter. Did you change your mind?
Normally I would return a draft this unacceptable and request a revision before our three-way meeting, but my hunch is that you might benefit from talking with us (again) before starting your revision. If, of course, you wish to revise. The choice is yours.



Dear Bill,

After spending most of the evening and morning reflecting on your recent comments, I can see where you are coming from, and understand that my writing failed to convey a persuasive argument
. I don't believe your vitriolic tone was justified, but your use of hyperbole was perhaps necessary to get me to understand my own distasteful use of exaggeration.

I admit that I erred, for once, on the side of punctuality, deciding to try to meet the deadline before I was ready to submit a thoroughly reasoned and researched paper. I compromised the content and quality of my paper, in addition to my reliability as a narrator.

I would like to point out that the senior project is a learning process, and I am certainly not opposed to learning from my mistakes. I am finding my voice along the way, and though it's not always the voice of reason, I would like you to respect my efforts in the process, and not be so quick to dismiss me. Furthermore, I believe education should be a collaborative process, and your consistently combative approach to my work does little to encourage my continued engagement. I hope you will take my feedback as seriously as I am taking yours, and reciprocate my efforts to change.

That said, I'd like to thank you for your comments. I look forward to our continued discussion tomorrow.

Stephanie Lee

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