Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Vernacular Eloquence

Author: Peter Elbow
Title: Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing

Description: Elbow is further developing his thinking about how to write well and how to teach writing by advocating bringing more of the sound of speech to the page.  Not only his now-familiar freewriting, but drafting and revision can all benefit from more vernacular influence.   
Writing style: If he advocated writing sounding more like speech but then wrote in the typical formal academic style, Elbow would have a major fail. He doesn’t fall into that trap, though; the whole book sounds like he’s sitting in his living room talking to the reader.
Audience: Composition profs and academic writers.
Major ideas: Not only does Elbow prove his point via the writing style of the book itself, he gives lots of ideas about teaching students how to make their writing come alive by writing in the “vernacular.” He also demonstrates that straight speech isn’t appropriate for writing, so there is a trick to making the writing sound like speech, but not strictly duplicating speech.

Wrap-up: I’m already a big Elbow fan, and he’s always delightful to read. I’m looking forward to trying some of these ideas in the classroom. 4.5/5*

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