"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week Ten: Exercise in Finding Voice

  Two weeks ago, I presented on Expressivism, and had the class participate in a "Voice" exercise. Peter Elbow writes, "Students read a writer with a particularly strong and obvious-"loud"-voice and then try to write something that produces the same voice. The object is for the student to "get inside" the self of the imitated writer by getting the sound of his tone of voice" (120). I find this exercise fascinating, so I repurposed it for the presentation.
  I handed out an index card for everyone in the class. I had them answer the following questions:

  1. Who is an author you admire?
  2. What characteristics of that author's writing do you admire?
  3. If you can, write a quote from that author you find particularly fascinating.
  I then had them put those cards away, as I proceeded with the discussion. When the time came, I pulled up this picture:
  The students then had to re-write the bear sign, in the voice of their admired author. I then had a few students share their re-writes: I wish I had written them down. I remember Caleb had a Hemingway re-write that was particularly effective.
  To add nuance to Elbow's experiment, I asked the students to pass their notecards two students to the left. They then had three minutes to perform another re-write, this time channeling this new author. Unfortunately, we only had time for one student to share. Luckily, it was Brian's re-working of the bear sign in McCarthy's voice.

Update: Sometimes, fate smiles down on those who post late. Last week, McSweeny's posted several re-writes of Walter White's "I'm the one who knocks" speech. Each re-write is from a famous author. I hope you enjoy the Jane Austen version. If you want, present your own re-write of Walt's speech in the comments.

Work Cited
Elbow, Peter. "A Method for Teaching Writing." College English 30.2 (1968): 115-25. PDF file.

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