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0.1 Introduction: Equipment for Writing

  • Page ID
    17971
  • The title of this OER is inspired by Kenneth Burke’s essay “Literature as Equipment for Living.” After listing and categorizing a range of proverbs, Burke draws a series of conclusions: 

    1) that proverbs exist to provide “strategies for dealing with situations”;

    2) that the range of proverbs demonstrates the range of situations requiring strategies;

    3) that often one situation can require a range of proverbs, and thus a range of strategies;

    In typical Burkean fashion, does not arrive at an easy answer. Instead, he arrives at a word that be redefines for his own purposes. He defends his use of the word strategy (a word that evokes battle) by turning to dictionaries and arguing that art, too, is “designed to organize and command the army of one's thoughts…” I imagine this textbook in a similar vein, as something that offers students strategies that will transfer to the different writing situations they will face in and out of school; that will, as Burke suggests, equip them for living.

    In a sense, OER is a kind of proverb. It responds to the situation of the increased cost of higher education, of which textbooks are only a part. OER’s openness opens a door, making school a more welcoming place by offering students at least one aspect of their education that doesn’t require yet another payment; OER moves knowledge outside of the confines of specific course and LMS, thus providing students resources that will exist long beyond their classes. OER also responds to the situation of skepticism about the publishing industry as a way of distributing academic knowledge, and a frustration at the ways that paywalls create another barrier to the democratizing power of education in particular, and knowledge in general. OER fights back against neoliberalism’s encroachment into higher education, and the value placed on the monetary value. And, OER responds to the situation of our digital age, in which words on a screen are so, so much cheaper than words on paper. In responding to these forces, OER also provides strategies--giving us tool with which to fight back. OER creates an army--both of thought and of people. 

    When I began working with OER, I might have used the proverb “The grass is always greener on the other side” to make the point that OER merely seemed better that my current course adoptions; now I might use a proverb like “Make hay while the sun shines” to make the point that now is always the time to make OER; or I might use a proverb like “A stitch in time saves nine” to make the point that OER saves students money NOW, and so it can’t be just another thing that we’ll get to next semester. Burke offers an unwitting endorsement of OER when he describes the value of slang as a kind of proverb:  

    “Mencken's book on The American Language, I hate to say, is splendid. I console myself with the reminder that Mencken didn't write it. Many millions of people wrote it, and Mencken was merely the amanuensis who took it down from their dictation. He found a true ‘vehicle’ (that is, a book that could be greater than the author who wrote it).” 

    On that note, I did not "write" this book. I remixed other good OER. I added a joke or two. I edited a few other parts. Maybe I’ll do more. I’ve tried to be clear about what OER I’m drawing from. Throughout, I draw heavily on these OER, and I hope I've done right by these works by providing proper attributions where needed

     

    Monique Babin, Carol Burnell, Susan Pesznecker, Nicole Rosevear, and Jaime Wood, The Word on College Reading and Writing (https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Composition/Book%3A_The_Word_on_College_Reading_and_Writing_(Babin_et_al.)) CC-BY-NC

    Amy Guptill, Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence (https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Composition/Book%3A_Writing_in_College_-_From_Competence_to_Excellence_(Guptill)) CC-BY-NC-SA

    Anna Mills, How Arguments Work: A Guide to Writing and Analyzing in Texts in College, https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Composition/Advanced_Composition/Book%3A_How_Arguments_Work_-_A_Guide_to_Writing_and_Analyzing_Texts_in_College_(Mills) CC-BY-NC

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