Vernacular Eloquence What Speech Can Bring to Writing

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-01-13
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Since the publication of his groundbreaking booksWriting Without TeachersandWriting with Power, Peter Elbow has revolutionized the way we think about writing. As a theorist, teacher, and uncommonly engaging writer himself, he has long championed our innate ability to write effectively. Now, inVernacular Eloquence, Elbow turns his attention to the role of the spoken word in writing. He begins by questioning the basic cultural assumption that speaking and writing are two very different, incompatible modes of expression, and that we should keep them separate. The book explores the many linguistic and rhetorical virtues of speech--spontaneity, naturalness of expression, fluidity of thought--to show that many of these virtues can usefully be brought to writing. Elbow suggests that we begin the writing process by "speaking" our words onto the page, letting the words and ideas flow without struggling to be "correct." Speaking can help us at the later stages of writing, too, as we read drafts aloud and then revise until the language feels right in the mouth and sounds right in the ear. The result is stronger, clearer, more natural writing that avoids the stilted, worried-over quality that so often alienates (and bores) the reader. Elbow connects these practices to a larger theoretical discussion of literacy in our culture, arguing that our rules for correct writing make it harder than necessary to write well. In particular, our culture's conception of proper writing devalues the human voice, the body, and the linguistic power of people without privilege. Written with Elbow's customary verve and insight,Vernacular Eloquenceshows how to bring the pleasures we all enjoy in speaking to the all-too-often needlessly arduous task of writing.

Author Biography

Peter Elbow is Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and former director of its Writing Program. He is the author of Writing Without Teachers, Writing With Power, Embracing Contraries, and Everyone Can Write.

Table of Contents

What's Best in Speaking And Writing?
Introduction: Defining "Speech" and "Writing"
Speech and Writing as They Are Used: The Role of Culture
What's Good about Writing
Speaking as a Process: What Can It Offer Writing?
Speech as a Product: Eight Virtues in Careless Spoken Language that Careful Writing Needs
Intonation: A Virtue for Writing Found at the Root of Everyday Speech
Can We Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?
A Role for the Tongue During the Early Stages of Writing: Treating Speech as Writing
Introduction: More Defining
What is Speaking Onto the Page and How Does Freewriting Teach it?
Where Else Do We See Unplanned Speaking onto the Page?
Objections to Speaking onto the Page - And Responses
The Need for Care: Unplanned Speaking onto the Page is Never Enough
A Role for the Tongue During Late Revising: Reading Aloud and Treating Writing as Speech
Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and the Ear Know
How Does Revising by Reading Aloud Actually Work?
Punctuation: Living with Two Traditions
Good Enough Punctuation by Reading Aloud and Listening
How Speech Can Improve Organization in Writing: Form as Energy
Summary Chapter: The Benefits of Speaking onto the Page and Reading Aloud
Vernacular Literacy
Introduction: Dante and Vulgar Eloquence
Our Present Culture of Proper Literacy and How It Tries To Exclude Speech
A New Culture of Vernacular Literacy is on the Horizon
How Freewriting Went from Dangerous to No Big Deal in the Composition and Rhetoric Community
A list of Publications Written in Nonprestige Nonstandard Versions of English
A List of Published Works by Peter Elbow
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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