Finding Felt Sense

My students read parts of Perl’s “Understanding Composing” this week, which situates the composition process as a recursive undertaking. Perl sets out to identify at least some of the things that writers actually return to while composing, including chunks of text (phrases, sentences, paragraphs) that writers continually go back to (re)read and (re)write, topic statements or key words that ground the composition, and the writer’s felt sense of what s/he wants to say. Perl quotes philosopher Eugene Gendlin who describes felt sense as “the soft underbelly of thought … a kind of bodily awareness that … can be used as a tool … a bodily awareness that … encompasses everything you feel and know about a given subject at a given time …. It is felt in the body, yet it has meanings. It is body and mind before they are split apart” (qtd in Perl 365). While I will overlook Gendlin’s Cartesean assumption that mind and body split, felt sense resounds with readiness potential. The concept of felt sense, unlike my emphasis on practice in my “Composing Agency” manuscript, points to a nonrepresentational meaning bound by thought material not yet cut into semantic structures. [I have been thinking about this tension at least since I first read Kristeva’s “Ethics of Linguistics” while working on my undergraduate thesis project]. Continue reading “Finding Felt Sense”


Media, Metaphors, and Potentiality

I am teaching a digital online resource project for the second semester in my Intermediate/Professional Writing course. The course asks students to first read a number of academic articles theorizing discourse communities and genre in order to develop a primary research project that explores the use of writing and written texts in a professional discourse community. For example, if a student is planning to use his/her college education to become a pharmacist (lots of these at WSU), then the student must interview at least two insiders who have already mastered the pharmacy Discourse and collect 3 distinct sample texts from the field in order to analyze the writing practices and genres used by pharmacists. The online resource guide is the culmination of a semester-long research project in which students present their findings (honed in an earlier data analysis project) for others interested in joining this discourse community and developing writing expertise as a pharmacist (or whatever). Currently, I allow students to use all sorts of media, including blogs, webpages, wikis, and prezis. In Computers and Composition Online, Angela Laflen provides a detailed and very helpful overview of how to integrate prezis into the composition classroom (“Composing the Self: Prezi Literacy Narratives“). Continue reading “Media, Metaphors, and Potentiality”