Feelings, Images, and Discourse

I’m currently writing a final paper for a course titled, “Applications to Literary Theory.”  I’m writing on Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Volume I as it is implemented by Jonathan Alexander in his newly published Literacy, Sexuality, Pedagogy:  Theory and Practice for Composition Students (2008).  Mid-sentence, I stop, searching for a word… freedom, release, openess… None of these words work in context.  And as I run through the possiblities, I see an image that represents exactly what I want to say…

It sounds silly, but here’s what I see:  Small white birds flying quickly out of a bright red box into a shining yellow and blue sky (like the one I see right now from the huge windows in Starbucks).  And I laugh to myself for a moment because I know I can’t use this language to describe Foucault’s depiction of the human relationship with sexuality before the Victorian age.  I know that I must find a word; one like “freedom” (but of course not “freedom”!); one that fits with the academic discourse I have already begun to create.

That’s when I realize how limited I am.  I want to write that their sexuality was like white birds flying out of a stifling box (an image which kind of fits Foucault’s purposefully exaggerated view of “non-repressed” sexual life (as if that could exist!)) and I can’t!

How can I lead students to think of discourse in this way?  How can I lead them to the discovery that we shape our language to the discourse we write within?

About taylo206

I am an Assistant Professor of Composition, Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
This entry was posted in Teaching Approaches, Theories of Composition and Rhetoric. Bookmark the permalink.

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