Volume 13, Number 5, June 1995

Inside Inkshed
M-L Craven Inkshed 12 Conference Issue
Doug Vipond CASLL Annual General MeetingMinutes
Sandy Baardman Inkshed Initiative Report
Laurentian University: New Interdisiplinary M.A. programme
Inkshed 12 Group Reports
"The Lighter Side"


James Brown, Mary-Louise Craven, Tom Greenwald, Jan Rehner,
Leslie Sanders, Ron Sheese, John Spencer, and Gail Van Stone
from the Writing Programmes at York University
(including the Faculty of Arts' Centre for Academic Writing, The Computer-Assisted Writing Centre, and Atkinson College's Essay Tutoring Centre)
% Mary-Louise Craven
530 Scott Library
York University, 4700 Keele Street,
North York, Ontario M3J 1P3
email: inkshed@yorku.ca
Fax: 416-736-5464

Consulting Editors

Phyllis Artiss
Memorial University
Neil Besner
University of Winnipeg
Russell A. Hunt
St. Thomas University
Wayne Lucey
Assumption Catholic High School
Burlington, ON
Susan Drain
Mount Saint Vincent University

Richard M. Coe
Simon Fraser University
Lester Faigley
University of Texas
James A. Reither
St. Thomas University
Judy Segal
University of British University
Graham Smart
Bank of Canada

Inkshed provides a forum for its subscribers to explore relationships among research, theory, and practice in language acquisition and language use. Subscribers are invited to submit informative pieces such as notices, reports, and reviews of articles, journals, books, textbooks, conferences, and workshops, as well as polemical discussions of events, issues, problems, and questions of concern to teachers in Canada interested in writing and reading theory and practice.

Inkshed is published five times during the academic year. The following is a schedule of submission deadlines and approximate publication dates:

15 September, for 1 October 1 February, for 15 February
15 November, for 1 December 1 April, for 15 April
Post-Conference: June-July

This newsletter is supported financially by the various Writing Programmes at York University. To become a member of the Inkshed organization, make cheques for $27.50 (or $17.50 for students or under employed ) payable to Inkshed at NSCAD c/o Kenna Manos, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 5163 Duke Street, Halifax, N.S. B3J 3J6. Fees support the Inkshed Publishing Initiative and on-going organizational expenses.

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Inkshed 12 Conference Issue: Pictures (and everything!)

Inkshed 12

Not only did Doug Brent run around as one of the official conference organizers at Inkshed 12, he also managed to act as its unofficial photographer. Interspersed through-out this newsletter are 'candid' shots of Inkshedders at work and play. Feel free to draw in balloons with (in)appropriate dialogue or annotate the photos with (in)appropriate captions. (And here's a caption challenge to all those not in attendance: what are Bill Boswell, Henry Hubert and Leslie Sanders doing in the photo on the last page?)

It was a good conference: terrific organization, scenery, food and entertainment. Our thanks to Doug Brent, Jo-Anne Andre, Geoff Cragg, and Jo-Anne Kabeary from the University of Calgary for organizing and providing conference support. (Jo-Anne Kabeary was too busy with the crucial behind-the-scenes work of typing up inksheds, etc., to be included in this photo!)

The setting was wonderful. In this picture, we're heading into our conference centre (formerly a paddleboat).

And those muffins!

One of the highlights of the Talent Show were the Cariboozers. The song-writers have provided us with the lyrics, and I'm sure you remember the tune for "Puff the Magic Dragon." (If you're in your office, you may want to close the door before singing it aloud.) The photo gives you some idea of the ingenuity of Don Lawrence who produced the "headgear"-found art from driftwood and beer cases.

This year, as a round-up to the annual conference, we are not printing the inksheds from the conference; instead, we are providing readers with summaries of the various groups' reports. And this includes a couple of poems each from Renee Norman and Carl Leggo from their session "Creative Writing, Poetry and Autobiography" (Natalie Cook was the third presenter in this session.)

. Fall '95 Issue

While not all groups managed to send in summaries, we are hopeful that they will be sufficiently guilt-ridden to send their summaries in for the fall issue. As well, in the fall issue, we will be publishing Karen Pancer's conference paper on "Writing Beyond the College Writing Classroom: Occupation-Based Writing and Transfer of Writing Skills.")

. Renewal Forms Coming

And watch in the fall issue for your subscription renewal form for 1995-96. We will be making a concerted effort to get the CASLL listserv members who are not now paying Inkshed dues, and those now receiving the Inkshed newsletter who haven't paid 1994/95 fees to officially join the organization.

. Follow-up to Margaret Procter's Report in the April 95 Inkshed.

We didn't follow our own writing advice that you shouldn't assume readers will know what acronyms stand for. In her report on Ontario universities, Margaret referred to OACs (or Ontario Academic Credits) which are required for admission to university (replacing the old grade 13 designation).

. Laurentian University's Human Sciences Monograph Series

The enclosed flyer was sent to us by Laurence Steven.

. And Finally - Inkshed 13

Here's a photo of two of the organizers of Inkshed 13, Pat Sadowy and Sandy Baardman-the whole group includes Inkshedders from both the U. of Manitoba and the U. of Winnipeg. Now what kind of scenery are they going to provide?

Mary-Louise Craven**
Co-editor, Inkshed newsletter

**(whose photo taken on her horse "Circle Butt" is mercifully not included!)

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CASLL Annual General Meeting

Kananaskis Guest Ranch, 13 May 1995

Present: Anthony Paré (chair), Jo-Anne Andre, Laura Atkinson, Sandy Baardman, Marcy Bauman, Martin Behr, Jim Bell, Bill Boswell, Doug Brent, Geoff Cragg, Mary-Louise Craven, Glenn Deer, Amanda Goldrick-Jones, Henry Hubert, Russ Hunt, Carl Leggo, Andrea Lunsford, Jamie McKinnon, Barry Nolan, Renee Norman, Karen Pancer, Margaret Procter, Pat Sadowy, Leslie Sanders, Rhonda Schuller, Judy Segal, Laurence Steven, Douglas Vipond.

1. The agenda was approved.

2. Minutes of the first AGM (May 1994, Fredericton) were approved.

3. Reports

a) Financial Officer -- On behalf of the financial officer, Kenna Manos, Doug Vipond presented the report. To date 59 people have paid their 1994-95 membership fees. There have been no expenses yet, so our total income is $3483.70.

It was agreed that CASLL fees would be based on the academic year, and would be payable in October.

Note: Membership privileges include receiving the newsletter and books produced by the publishing initiative. Fees ($27.50 regular, $17.50 student and underemployed) can be sent to Kenna Manos, Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, 5163 Duke Street, Halifax, NS B3J 3J6. Cheques should be made out to "Inkshed at NSCAD." If you aren't yet a paid-up member of CASLL for 1994-95, please become one now!

b) Inkshed newsletter: Mary-Louise Craven and Leslie Sanders reported on the newsletter. There was much discussion about the feasibility of publishing CASLL computer network discussions in Inkshed. It seemed to be the consensus that selecting and presenting such contributions is an act of authorship, so someone would have to volunteer to do it. The possibility of having different themes for Inkshed issues was discussed. Mary-Louise and Leslie said they were having difficulty getting copy, and encouraged everyone to submit material as soon and as often as possible.

It was agreed that people who are receiving Inkshed but haven't paid CASLL dues will be reminded of this by Mary-Louise.

c) Publishing initiative: On behalf of the publishing group (Laura Atkinson, Sandy Baardman, Pat Sadowy, Stan Straw, and Neil Besner), Sandy reported that two new books will be appearing by the end of the summer. One is by Martin Behr (edited by Rick Coe) on the rhetoric of  Kenneth Burke; the other is an edited volume on gender and academic  writing by Jackie McLeod Rogers. Sandy reminded us that the deadline  for proposals is 8 September 1995 and that the review board consists of the entire Inkshed community."

Sandy discussed the marketing of these books (through Coutts, and the CCTELA). Andrea suggested a display table be set up at 4Cs. Sandy encouraged everyone to get their library to order a copy. 

4. Membership fees

The Board of Directors recommended, and people agreed, that the annual fees remain at $27.50 (regular and institutional) and $17.50 (student and underemployed).

5. Inkshed 13

Marcy Bauman, Andrea Lunsford, and Russ Hunt initially agreed to host Inkshed 13 in southern Ontario; however, after consultation with the Winnipeg delegation, they changed their offer to Inkshed 14. The Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg agreed to host Inkshed 13 (1996) in Winnipeg; thanks were extended to all.

6. Nominations for Board of Directors

Because Amanda and Anthony have come to the end of 1-year terms, elections were held to replace them. Amanda and Margaret were nominated, elected, and congratulated. The Directors therefore are:

Patrick Dias (1996)
Kenna Manos (1996)

Laura Atkinson (1997)
Judy Segal (1997)
Douglas Vipond (1997)

Margaret Procter (1998)
Amanda Goldrick-Jones
Patrick and Kenna continue as secretary and financial officer, respectively.

7. Vote of thanks

A hearty vote of thanks was extended to Doug Brent, Jo-Anne Andre, Geoff Cragg, and Joanne Kabeary for making Inkshed 12 an enjoyable and productive conference for us all.

Douglas Vipond
St.Thomas University
(CASLL Acting Secretary)

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About Inkshed Publications

The primary reasons for this publication series are related to Canadian academics' and teachers' need for an ongoing vehicle to create and maintain the dialogue on current scholarship, research, and theory in the domains of  language study; composition studies; rhetorical studies; the study of texts  and how they are composed, read, and used; the study of literature and  response to literature; pedagogy in English studies; language arts and  English education; media and communication studies; and related fields.

We believe our first priority should be to provide Canadian scholars and  teachers with an opportunity to address other Canadians. We also believe  that these same scholars should have some means of addressing the  international community of scholars. In order to ensure that the series  deals with the most current and engaging issues in our field, we wish to see  publications written primarily by Canadians, edited and reviewed by Canadians, but addressed to both a national and international audience. That  is, we wish to recognize that much of the work being carried out in Canada is  not only part of the Canadian conversation, but is among the most innovative  work being done in English studies internationally as well.

We envision publications which report on current research (in its broadest definition), scholarship, theory, and the analysis of emerging conceptual constructs, while recognizing the potential influence these constructs on classroom practice. The publication series attempts to provide a venue for alternative conceptualizations of language and discourse which challenge traditional theories and

their attendant pedagogies, as well as to give voice to emerging, different, and marginalized discourses.

Publication Proposals

Inkshed Publications will publish both monographs and edited books.  The editors are also interested in alternative formats. All formats must be  book-length (100-200 pages).

Edited Volumes:

We envision the edited books to be made up of approximately 200 pages  (typescript, which is approximately 250 pages manuscript) with articles from  six or eight different authors. These books will be edited by members of the  community who make proposals. Those proposal should include a prospectus (10-15 pages) describing the intent of the book as well as the rationale for  addressing the topic(s) in the book. The proposers should also suggest names  of possible contributors to the book as well as the possible topics those  contributors will discuss. For these volumes, prospective editors need not  have contacted the possible contributors to submit a proposal, or, for that  matter, need to have all of the contributors selected. Furthermore,  prospective editors may suggest an idea for a volume without having  particular contributors identified. In these cases, the managing editors can send out a call for papers on the topic of the volume on behalf of the  editors. Decisions about the final papers for the volume will be made by the  editors/proposers, in consultation with the managing editors. 


Monographs, either singly- or multiply-authored will also be part of the  publication initiative. We are looking for extended discussions of topics  important to the Inkshed community. These monographs will, typically, be  about 100 pages long (typescript, i.e., about 125 pages manuscript). The  topics covered by the monographs should be focused and of scholarly and  pedagogical importance to the Inkshed community. Proposals for monographs  should include a 10-15 page prospectus describing the topic and its relevance  as well as the theoretical perspective to be taken in the book. The proposal  should also include a preliminary table of contents. The decisions of which  monographs will be published will be made by the managing editors after the  proposals have been sent out for review.

Alternative formats:

The editors are also interested in formats other than the two listed above  and are interested in receiving proposals for such alternative formats. The  format must be of book-length (100-200 pages), be appropriate in terms of  scholarly and pedagogical significance, and be publishable. Proposals for  such volumes should include a 10-15 page prospectus describing the topic and  its relevance as well as the theoretical perspective to be taken in the book.

All proposals should be in a form that can be copied to be sent out for  review. If you have any questions, please contact Sandy Baardman at the  address listed below.



Please submit three copies of each proposal to:

Inkshed Publications phone: 1-204-474-9034
c/o Sandy Baardman fax: 1-204-275-5962
340 Education Bldg. e-mail: BAARDMN@CCM.UMANITOBA.CA
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2

Previous and upcoming titles:

Writing Instruction In Canadian Universities
(1994) by Roger Graves

Contextual Literacy: Writing Across The Curriculum
(1994) edited by Catherine Schryer and Laurence Steven

Gender And Academic Writing
(forthcoming, 1995) by Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

Continuity And Change In The Thought Of Kenneth Burke
(forthcoming, 1995) by Martin Behr, edited by Richard M. Coe

Integrating Visual And Verbal Literacies
(forthcoming, 1996) edited by Will Garrett-Petts and Donald Lawrence

Sandy Baardman,
Co-Editor, Inkshed Publications
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New Master's program in Humanities: News Release from Laurentian University

As of September 1995, Laurentian University expects to offer a unique graduate program in Humanities in Northern Ontario. The Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Humanities: Interpretation and Values Program has been in the works since 1987. It pools elements of six Humanities departments: English, Philosophy, Music, Modern Languages, Native Studies, and Religious Studies. This M.A. program is Laurentian's first program involving all three federated universities (University of Sudbury, Thorneloe University, and Huntington University) and the University College of Laurentian.

As explained by Dr. Laurence Steven, Director of this newest Master's degree program: "By pooling our resources, and favouring this interdisciplinary approach, we will provide graduate study to a backlog of excellent Northern Ontario students with Humanities degrees who haven't had access to it until now. The interdisciplinary approach captures the strange and wonderful character of Humanities at Laurentian, with its four Colleges and four different mandates. l see it as a vehicle to achieve mutual support."

This new M.A. program offers students three enrollment options: 12 months fulltime; 24 months parttime; or 36 months through distance education. The distance education component will be provided by teleconference, linking the campus and various Northern Ontario communities through Contact North.

Whereas students can follow a traditional course option, or the courseandthesis route, all students will benefit from the innovative sixcredit practicum component. Under the supervision of a faculty member and a placement supervisor, students will spend 120 hours volunteering in a community organization.

The practicum is not limited to cultural organizations; it can involve educational, industrial, social, medical and charitable institutions. "Interpretation and values are everywhere. Thinking, reading and evaluating, which are all involved in the Humanities degree, are present in the community. In recent years, they have become even more present as people are called upon to make important costreduction and ethical decisions," explained Dr. Steven.

"This is a way to bring our Humanities graduates to the community. This contact will enable students to learn in a very practical way how the community works, while enabling the community to better understand how we [the University] work and what are our concerns. The response from the community has been incredible; no less than 35 community organizations, 98% of those responding to our initial query, have given us a favourable response and want to explore this practicum possibility," said Dr. Steven.

Initially, the Interdisciplinary M.A. in Humanities will be offered only in English. Students, however, will be able to do their thesis work in French within a year. The program will eventually be fully bilingual.

For more information please contact Dr. Laurence Steven, Director, Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Humanities: Interpretation and Values Program, Laurentian University, Sudbury, P3E 2C6 (lsteven@nickel.laurentian.ca).

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Group Reports from Inkshed 12 Conference

1. Public Argument and Voice Appropriation

(session included Laurence Steven, Jamie MacKinnon, and Martin Behr)

In looking at our three proposals that Doug Brent so intriguingly placed together, and in trying to get into the spirit of this experiment in longdistance collaborative writing, I saw some strands that probably did relate: my interest in the rhetorical aspects and implications of contestation; Jamie's interest in how argument can be heuristic, constitutive of new knowledge, and critical to citizenship; and Martin's contention that some cognitive compositional skills are social but nonideological.

But I felt that to focus things we needed a case, something to make tangible our various interests, and that could issue in a relatively contained presentation to Inkshed. To that end I suggested the debate over the appropriation of the voices of First Nations peoples by nonnatives as seen in the controversy over Welwyn Wilton Katz's young adult novel False Face (1987), which deals with Iroquois medicine masks of power. The Iroquois nation had accused Katz of voice appropriation, saying she had no right to be telling their stories, and she had published a response.

Jamie and Martin were amenable to my suggestion, so using the False Face controversy as a focus, we briefly considered the implications for public argument of the various rhetorics that intersect once we enter the voice appropriation domain. First there is the novel itself, which Katz sees as an appeal for tolerance, for appreciation of another's distinctiveness. The argument of the novel is heuristic, an instance of ingenium, which, Jamie reminded us, is the faculty of insight which allows the mind to sympathetically apprehend the world. As such the argument is "cooperative rather than competitive" (Ehninger and Brockriede).

Next we have a short article which Katz wrote in reaction to some reported negative verbal response to her novel among the Iroquois. Martin argued that the rhetoric here, rather than being heuristic, appeals to a common social but nonideological realm, to use Elster's terms; native and nonnative are all people, with the same basic issues in their lives. What becomes apparent as we compare the moves of the novel to those of the journal piece is that the perception of a voice appropriation charge has pushed Katz into what I referred to as crisis rhetoric; she is concerned to assert her authority to write her own story because how could it be anything but hers?

Next we have the written reaction of the Iroquois nation, accusing Katz of distorting native sacred symbols and beliefs. Here as well we find crisis rhetoric; the tone is admonitory, reestablishing a boundary that Katz should not have transgressed. There is no invitation to response, debate, or dialogue. Katz's response displays an agonistic rhetoric which by now is only ostensibly in the service of rational argument. She is defending her reputation as a meticulous researcher, and one senses lawyers hovering nearby waiting to pounce.

An observation we shared was that the voice appropriation position fosters a climate of crisis in which suspicion and selfprotection undermine the respect for distinctiveness which is sought.

submitted by Laurence Steven
2. Students' Perceptions of Writing Centres

(seesion included Jim Bell, Mary Mar, Mary O'Malley, Jan Rehner, and Leslie Sanders)

Although writing centre professionals see writing centres as unique institutional contexts in which to write, do students? Semi-structured interviews with 87 students at 4 writing centres across Canada revealed that students do see writing centres as unique contexts. 

In preparation for our study, using e-mail, we formulated  a common focus for the study of individual centres. Ultimately, each site used its own set of questions; however, these proved remarkably similar, as did student responses to them. Our findings are as follows:

Students at Concordia, York (2 sites), and the University of Northern BC emphasized the affective support provided at centres: they felt cared for, connected to the institution, and encouraged in a non-threatening environment. Simultaneously, students at three of the sites emphasized how professional and expert the tutors were, thus showing that while students differentiate between affective support and professional expertise, they also realize that the two need not be mutually exclusive. In addition, numerous students perceive the writing help they received from professors as incomplete, some citing inadequate time, others a focus on content, and still others a professorial role conflict between grader and teacher.

submitted by Jim Bell and Leslie Sanders

3. Avoiding the Missionary Position: Rhetoricians Among the Heathen

(session included Doug Brent, Anthony Paré, Judy Segal, and Doug Vipond)

Summary of Presentation:

For years, rhetoricians have been compiling ethnographies of other disciplines' discourses. We have tended to assume unquestioningly that such information will be interesting and useful not only to ourselves but also to members of the disciplines we study. In our Inkshed presentation, we question some of these assumptions and check to see whether, as rhetorical Emperors, we really have any clothes on.

We, by virtue of our rhetorical expertise and our "outsideness" itself, may be in a better position than "insiders" to examine the discourse of a community.  However, it may be argued that discourse communities function better when their knowledge is tacit. We are so used to looking at language that we tend to forget that language often gets more things done when we look through it. We defend our rhetorical investigations by noting that communities whose knowledge is totally tacit not only surrender the ability to change their discourse through conscious direction, but also are vulnerable to control by others who may manipulate discourse for less than altruistic ends.  Therefore we do indeed have something to say to members of other disciplines.

But there are numerous barriers to saying it. All four of us have felt the effects of these barriers as others have listened politely to our rhetorical wisdom and then turned us off. One barrier is the threat posed by our exposure of discourse conventions: the uncomfortable possibility that structures that look "real" to those who use them may be no more than "mere rhetoric." (It does not help that we find no shame in "mere rhetoric": others do.) Another barrier is our own arrogance-what Anthony has dubbed "the missionary position"-which leads us to assume that we can uncover the "real" meaning of a culture in a few hours' work and then tell the members of that culture how to live their lives.

We offer a few solutions: treat other disciplines' discourse conventions with more respect, work with them a long time before we presume to understand them, proceed in a spirit of collaborative investigation, and when we really want to change something, work as much as possible with the fledgling members of the community rather than the diehards. But we are left in a typically Inkshed-like state of provisionality and discomfort. Do our claims to superior rhetorical knowledge really give us the right to meddle in other disciplines' affairs? And if not, what are we here for?

Summary of Process:

We think that, after the usual false starts, procrastination, whining, and other typical throat-clearing mechanisms, our collaboration ended up working much better than we initially expected it to. We ended up with a unified piece of work that none of us could have produced separately.   One important key to making our collaboration work was that we found a new question to ask: a question that drew on experiences that we all shared but that none of us had thought to ask in quite that way before. Thus we engaged in new thinking together, rather than trying to pull together the separate strands of old separate thinking.

But we noticed something interesting. Although we made great use of the marvels of the internet, shipping ideas and finally complete drafts across the country from Vancouver to Fredericton, some of the most important aspects of the presentation were highly traditional. The idea jelled when two of us met face to face and were able to engage in brainstorming of a sort that does not work well over the Internet. And we produced a final document by turning it over to one person and then layering comments, suggestions and revisions onto that one text.

We see two lessons for teaching in this. One is that collaborative processes are messy and highly variant (big surprise). Another is that students who take an over simplistic few of shared workload (a view that we ourselves have trained into them) are doing themselves a disservice. If we had insisted on an exact four-part division of labour, as our marking schemes for student collaboration sometimes do, we probably would have ended up with four short papers loosely stitched together. Our presentation contains something of all of us, and would not have been the same if any of us had not been part of it.  But only by not particularly caring who contributed what when and in what amount did we achieve the flexibility and trust that allowed us to let a  unified product unfold.

submitted by Doug Brent

4. Co-op Students' Experiences of Writing Within Organizations

(session included Barbara Schneider & Jo-Anne Andre)

To explore whether students experience problems in moving from school-based writing to workplace writing and how well their university education prepares them for such writing, we recently interviewed ten third- and fourth-year university students (three Communication, one Computer Science, three Management, and three Political Science students) about their experience of writing on the job in their co-op work term placements. All but two students were in their early 20s, and they were evenly divided by sex. Their most recent work term placements included government departments, transportation and tourism organizations, a software company, a resource company, and a charitable organization. 

On average, the students spent close to 60% of their work time on writing or writing-related tasks. They produced a wide variety of texts, including news releases, memos, letters, educational materials, summaries, briefs, newsletters, brochures, speeches, manuals, and a range of major reports.

Most students were given little initial direction on assigned writing. Some students felt unprepared to tackle unfamiliar genres; however, they were able to obtain the information they needed by getting clarification from their supervisors, consulting reference books, and studying models from workplace files. The students were generally surprised by the amount of negative feedback they got on their writing since, with the exception of the Computer Science student, who had English as a second language, nearly all students entered their work terms confident that they were good writers.

Perhaps the biggest challenge that many students faced was in producing documents that adequately reflected the social and political realities of their writing context. Some writers encountered problems because of inadequate information about the organization's purpose and audience for particular documents. In one case, a supervisor rejected a student's evaluation report on a conference because it did not present an entirely positive evaluation which could be used to support future funding requests. Other students experienced problems and conflicts when they were expected to assume organizational personas and reflect organizational points of view in their writing.

Students differed greatly according to field in assessing how well their university education had prepared them for workplace writing: Management students responded highly positively; Computer Science and Political Science students, positively; and Communications students, highly negatively. These differences raise interesting questions about how genre knowledge and writing, research, and analytical skills are taught within different disciplines. We suspect that not only pedagogical practice but the relation of theory to practice in different disciplines influences how students perceive the role of writing in their field, how they see themselves as writers in workplaces, and what they expect from their education.

By all accounts, work term experiences were invaluable to the students interviewed; besides providing important work and writing experience, they prompted improvement in writing and attitudes toward writing and taught students the importance of seeking needed clarification early in the writing process. For many students, perhaps another valuable but less visible lesson--one that we cannot hope to impart adequately in the classroom--was that, to be successful, writing within organizations must respond adequately to the social and political realities in the writing context.

5. Visual Literacy, Word and Image

(session included Mary-Louise Craven, Karen Day, W.F. Garrett-Petts, and Donald Lawrence)

The ostensible purpose of our presentation was an exploration of how institutional contexts and disciplinary orientations  regarding "literacy" blind us to, or prejudice us against, alternative "literacies." Our presentation began with two initial lines of inquiry: an overview of why literary culture and literacy instruction generally resist integration of the visual; and some indication of both the theoretical and the pedagogical implications of reading and composing texts that do integrate visual and verbal elements.

Visual literacy, we suggested, is too frequently cast as "something practiced by others on us." Even many media studies programs (where one might expect a sympathetic treatment of visual culture) present visual literacy as a means of inoculating the unwary against the snares and baits of advertising, television, music videos, photography, and other forms of visual representation. But, as W.J.T. Mitchell notes in his recent book, Picture Theory (U of Chicago P, 1994), "recent developments in art history, film theory, and what is loosely called 'cultural studies' make the notion of purely verbal literacy  increasingly problematic." Instead of advocating a withdrawal from the visual, our presentation argued for a multi-disciplinary understanding of how visual and verbal literacies variously compete and cohere.

Both Garrett-Petts and Day discussed the process of reading double-voiced narratives, narratives that communicate both verbally and visually. Following Perry Nodelman's work on the "doubleness" of children's picture books, we suggested that engagement with more and more complex "picture books" (and here we included image/text works by Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Daphne Marlatt, and others) should enhance both literary and literacy competencies. Similarly we speculated on the implications of composing with text and image-not just by employing visual thinking as an invention heuristic, but by learning to communicate intertextually.

Lawrence illustrated the notion of image/text composition via an exhibit of his own artworks, selections from his show Romantic Commodities and from his published and unpublished travel narratives. Artists' books and other forms of intermedial literature have asserted a significant if troubling presence from the time of William Blake to the present day; Lawrence offered image/text composition as an important  vehicle for personal narrative and life writing. And, reinforcing our initial position, Lawrence noted with Richard Kostelanetz that "[i]maginative books usually depend as much on visual literacy as on verbal literacy; many 'readers' literate in the second respect are illiterate in the first."

Finally, Craven complicated and critiqued the question of visual literacy by examining how we read (and are influenced by) video and film images. Unlike the static image/text relations of artists' books, children's books, and other such literature, video and film, said Craven, do not allow time for critical reflection. She reiterated Messaris' (1994) message that "we can't make images do what words do." Her concern was that in the world of hypermedia, when media converge, the descriptive power of the images might overwhelm the analytical power of the words.

submitted by Will Garrett-Pitts

6. Boundaries Between Academic/Workplace and Literary/Personal Writing

(session included Glenn Deer, Sandra Dueck, Henry Hubert, and Margaret Procter)

Summary of Process: Looking for our Muse

Our collaboration is the history of four authors in search of a focus. All of our initial proposals consisted of questions about the largest of issues in teaching university writing: why is it worthwhile? Each of us was inclined to look for answers in different ways, and we spent some time exploring those before realizing that we needed to share our views.

Our e-mail discussions from November through April were sporadic though sometimes intense--they were our only contact, since we came from three different institutions in B.C. and one in Toronto. Looking back at my e-mail archives, I suspect that we were really talking to ourselves, either following through our tentative answers or reformulating our own questions playfully (and sometimes anxiously). The fact that we never explicitly disagreed with each other in our posts suggests that we were still engaged mostly in self-questioning. It was Sandra Dueck who took us in hand-became Goldilocks to the Three Bears, we said-by making us realize that our large general ideas were particularly relevant to the public policy shift in B.C. and elsewhere. If we could reframe our positions as showing the value of a liberal education, we could hope to comment on that shift.

This was no easy task, and workload prevented all of us from tackling it until nearly the last minute. News of Sandra's success in filming interviews with various politicians was encouraging, but we other three still didn't post our individual sections until the last days before the conference. As these went out in turn, the framework being built up by cumulative posts helped us recognize what we wanted to say. We still wrote in very different ways, however, and when we arrived in Kananaskis all of us had far too much text for the time limits of our presentation.  Our face-to-face meeting Friday night showed us  Sandra's video for the first time. This was our "shock of recognition." Her images starkly represented just the issues that we had come to recognize as our common ground.  The values shown there, in positive and negative terms, were those we had been working to define in our months of creating text. Cutting down and reshaping our individual texts now became purposive. Our presentation still left many ends untied and various questions simplistically shaped, but it did seem to communicate with some urgency and force our central question about why we teach writing. At least it did for us!

Summary of Presentation:

How can we define the value of the literacy we teach? The question needs answering in terms of public and university policy on liberal education.

Sandra Dueck's video, showing clips of adults saying why they valued learning to read, visibly moved the Inkshed audience. The three filmed figures stated their reasons succinctly: their new literacy had given them a chance to learn and act for themselves, to say firmly "now I can." As one man put it, "if you can't read, somebody else will do it for you." The video then juxtaposed these images with shots of Sandra interviewing B.C. politicians and students. The politicians, with varying degrees of crassness, emphasized the need for job training and employability skills, even at the university level. They saw literacy as simply a set of tools for the workplace; research could calculate exactly what tools were needed. Students and politicians alike were seen expressing satisfaction with this model of education.

Margaret Procter then pointed out that universities as institutions also feel the pull of this view of literacy.  In fact, as writing teachers we sometimes exploit it to defend our programs. A new statement in an Arts and Science calendar, for instance, appeals bluntly to students' self- interest by emphasizing that good writing will bring higher grades, better chances of acceptance to graduate programs, and competitive advantages in the workplace. It depicts a world of struggle and hierarchy where writing is merely instrumental. In paternalistic style, the passage addresses students directly as "you," but shows no sense of their personal development. Other elements in the ways universities teach writing also devalue the personal. The academic essay is notorious for disallowing "I" in favour of third-person references to authorities. Business writing may be even more pernicious, since it explicitly teaches identification with the reader's viewpoint. Though as writing teachers we want to help students locate themselves within their cultures, the context and conventions within which we teach work against that goal.

A student in Glenn Deer's class pointed out this inner contradiction in an elaborately-phrased e-mail message asking whether she would lose marks by expressing her own thoughts in an essay. In fact, the course on Canadian identity demanded just the reconciliation of academic reasoning and personal voice that would help her develop those thoughts. It is encouraging that some academics outside the humanities, such as Thomas Vargish of the Sloan School of Management at MIT, see that liberal arts studies have long-term and indirect benefits in fostering the ability to think profoundly about social and ethical issues. Other policy-makers, however, especially in times of budget cuts, call for immediate accountability and see only instrumentality in literacy instruction. Our work as writing teachers is to convince students to reflect on the discourses of the communities to which they already belong-- including the discourse of the academic community, with all its contradictions.

Questions about the function of university education, Henry Hubert pointed out, have long been the subject of public debate in Canada. He reminded us that the Scottish view of liberal education combined practical emphasis with goals of self-development. If an English gentlemen went to university to learn to spend a thousand pounds a year with elegance and grace, a Scot could learn how to make a thousand pounds a year with the same elegance and grace.  Recent thinking about composition has aimed also at such integration: it sees composition as a way to develop critical insight into the whole range of practical concerns. The Writing Across the Curriculum movement re-affirms this integration by showing how such forms as journals help students deal in depth with disciplinary material and gain personal satisfaction in this mastery. The ideals of Matthew Arnold may not seem to fit well with contemporary consumerist attitudes, but they should be offered to students because they encourage people to think beyond their immediate practical interests.

submitted by Margaret Procter

7. Creative Writing, Poetry, Autobiography

(session included Natalie Cook, Carl Leggo and Renee Norman)


too early
(for Jesus Christ Superstar at the Jubilee Auditorium)
I direct my husband
around the northwest of Calgary
trying to find my old childhood home
the big hill I remembered
driving up in the snow & ice
my mother's hands tense on the wheel
a silent signal of danger
Saint Andrew's church on the corner
across from prairie
my leg scratching brown weed & purple crocus
a gopher scurrying past
prickly tumbleweed toward
a slough where cows gathered to drink
the dirt road in front of our house
dries into a summer cake
pieces crack and lift up

past prairie on one side
& a hill of new houses on the other
I walked the lost Dutch boy home
his many relatives stared at me through the window
when I rang the bell again & again
didn't they know this was their child
I wondered
trying to explain to smiling bewildered foreign faces
when they finally opened the door

my husband drives & circles
the old neighbourhood divided
by a freeway
the prairie gone & Foothills Hospital
in its place

finally we find the block
my address still etched in my mind
1408-29 St. NW
chanted over & over like a skipping rhyme
in my head

it is no longer the same rhyme
I look for the front window where I stood crying
when my mother left for work
the brick planter that held red geraniums in the summer
the driveway bordered by poppies & pansies
that cheered the Pontiac's ascent
the fenced back yard where I marvelled at cucumbers
which grew wild from seeds strewn by the garbage cans

1408 is not the same house anymore
& like the prairie has been rebuilt
a patch of my memories is overrun
with old weeds & dying gophers

suddenly I see the back lane
where I found those wild cucumbers
& the fence that let in small shafts of life
from the lane

Renee Norman

My Life Is a Soap Opera

I can't
I think
I am amnesiac.
Was I once
in an auto accident,
my past erased,
my face restored
by a plastic surgeon
who reads only Esquire
and Cosmopolitan?
Now I seek
my lost face
in Days of Our Lives,
just like Gina
who is really Hope,
doesn't know Beau
is her husband,
but feels questions marks
in her stomach
whenever she sees him,
while Beau
can't see Hope
with plastic surgery.
Sure Hope is dead,
Beau married
Billie, Gina's best friend,
but in flashbacks
sees Gina
who he hopes
is and isn't Hope
who lives
without hope
she will ever
write her life,
her self, out of the auto

Carl Leggo

Spell Poetry

a long time ago
I saw a birch tree
hold the late winter
light of afternoon
after rain left
even the ducks
in the slough
sopping mad
like once
or maybe twice
I have seen
lovers hold
the love
of the other
in their eyes
and now
in this poem
I walk the dyke
again, see again
the birch tree
holds still
the late winter
light of afternoon:

I spell my words
on the page;
I am caught
in the spell.

If I learn
to spell poetry,
will I know
the spell of poetry?

Carl Leggo

My Problem

After climbing Valley Road
one late spring evening
(summer anywhere else in Canada)
I sat with Cassandra
(seduced by my sixteen-year-old
imagination I had written
her the heroine
of my romantic stories)
on the backsteps of her parents' house
looking for God hiding among the stars
and explaining why, if I were American,
not Canadian, I would refuse
to fight in the Vietnam War,
and Cassandra said, I don't
want to go out with you anymore,
your problem is you want
to change the world.
I'm glad she told me.
I didn't even know
I had a problem.

Carl Leggo

There's A Poem in It

my life is NOT a series of poems
broken into stanzas
with lines that break
between the images
joined with simple words
to give the full effect

I DO NOT walk or read
or organize a drawer
just to start another poem
and stack it full of daily memory

but I confess that when events
play out their plot
I often think them poetry to write
and even when I must decide
to leave the house*to clean a room
or dare to venture something new
behind my motives
very clear
I consider that whatever happens
a poem might be very near

Renee Norman

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"The Lighter Side"

Cariboozer song

(To the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon," with appropriate asides as you think of them.)



We may not be from Harvard
Or even MIT
But we learned comp from Lunsford
At good ol' UBC!


Some tell us that we're boring
And some, that we don't care
We force collaboration
In ways that are not fair.


We often switch to Moosehead
We take another puff
We work all day at lecture notes
But write them on our cuff.

Teachers live forever
But not at UCC
We teach 12 hours and do research
And publish TSC.


So raise a glass to colleagues
Who work at UCC
And reach into your cheque-books
And buy your TSC.


And raise a glass to Calgary,
Doug Brent and all his crew
Out here at Kananaskis
We praise their choice of view.


For Inkshed and for CASLL
It's e-mail all the way.
Don't tell me that you don't log on--
Don't rain on our Paré

Doug Vipond, M-L Craven
Amanda Goldrick-Jones
Ross Hunt and Sandy Baardman
Establish contact zones
We can't name everybody
But we salute all here
All 37 writers
At Inkshed 12 this year.


Inkshed will continue
Though Reither came no more
And Patrick Dias, Susan Drain
And where is Stanley Straw (r)?
Kay Stewart and Chris Bullock
Nan Johnson--our old core
We miss the cameraderie
On this Bow River shore.

We're the Cariboozers
We teach at UCC
Now laugh, and clap and whistle

Cheers to all!
The Cariboozers
(aka Karen Day, Will Garrett-Pitts, Henry Hubert, and Donald Lawrence)

** Editor's note: This acronym should be well known to all: Textual Studies in Canada

fill in your caption here!

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