How To Write A Dialogue Paper

As it turns out, someone—the director of the Rutgers Writing Program—did tell me just that. Plays are a staple of all the classes I teach, from developmental writing to freshman composition to advanced critical thinking courses.He assured me that playwriting is an ideal background for teaching expository writing. I have used works by David Mamet, Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, John Guare, Athol Fugard, and others.

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The first assignment was something of a slow lob, a personal narrative piece, which proved to be well within the comfort zone for the entire class. A couple of heads are now down, belonging to students who are, presumably, rereading the assignment sheet. I ask the class if anybody has any ideas about how we might deal with three different readings, other than comparing and contrasting them. "You all read Auster's, Wideman's, and Rich's essays. One text `talking' to the other." "So you're saying we can't compare them," the compare/contrast student tries again. They are to write the panelist's name, followed by a colon, followed by his or her words. I give them approximately thirty minutes in class to work on their dialogues.

The second assignment was more challenging: a textual analysis of an essay by Richard Rodriguez drawing on the ideas of David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky in their introduction to the anthology Ways of Reading. Here is what it says: For your third assignment, frame a discussion of Paul Auster's essay "Portrait of an Invisible Man" and John Edgar Wideman's "Our Time" using the terms and ideas of Adrienne Rich as they appear in her essay "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision." We have spent the better part of the last two weeks reading and discussing these three selections from Ways of Reading. I remind them that they worked with two readings in their last assignment. And we've had some great discussions about each of them. "You can, but I think what I'm asking you to do is more interesting. To my surprise, the entire class gets busy writing, and it is not until I tell them that time is up that they stop.

Before going on, I should explain how and why I came to use this approach in my writing classroom.

My background is in dramatic writing and, as a playwright, I felt less than qualified when I first began teaching English composition.

Levine encourages students to get these writers talking to one another. I want you to imagine that you are the moderator of a panel discussion on revision (`re-vision').

2 Date: Spring 2002 Summary: Is it possible for an inexperienced writer to juggle the ideas of several authors to create a coherent, analytical essay?

When I began teaching my first freshman composition class at Rutgers University, I had already compartmentalized my graduate studies into two categories: my playwriting toolbox and my composition toolbox.

I told myself that my composition skills would pay the bills so that I could pursue my playwriting ambitions in my spare time.

I revisited my father's past with an open mind; I just did not happen to have my point of view changed by this revision.

Although his speeches go on a little too long, Peter's dialogue demonstrates his ability to use Rich's text to comment on Wideman's and Auster's texts.


Comments How To Write A Dialogue Paper

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