Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing

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Oxford University Press, Jan 2, 2012 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 456 pages
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Since the publication of his groundbreaking books Writing Without Teachers and Writing with Power, Peter Elbow has revolutionized how people think about writing. Now, in Vernacular Eloquence, he makes a vital new contribution to both practice and theory. The core idea is simple: we can enlist virtues from the language activity most people find easiest-speaking-for the language activity most people find hardest-writing. Speech, with its spontaneity, naturalness of expression, and fluidity of thought, has many overlooked linguistic and rhetorical merits. Through several easy to employ techniques, writers can marshal this "wisdom of the tongue" to produce stronger, clearer, more natural writing. This simple idea, it turns out, has deep repercussions. Our culture of literacy, Elbow argues, functions as though it were a plot against the spoken voice, the human body, vernacular language, and those without privilege-making it harder than necessary to write with comfort or power. Giving speech a central role in writing overturns many empty preconceptions. It causes readers to think critically about the relationship between speech, writing, and our notion of literacy. Developing the political implications behind Elbow's previous books, Vernacular Eloquence makes a compelling case that strengthening writing and democratizing it go hand in hand.

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Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing

User Review  - Stacey Rae Brownlie - Book Verdict

Elbow (English, emeritus, Univ. of Mass., Amherst; Writing Without Teachers) devotes his latest book to the value the spoken word brings to literacy and, ultimately, the written word. The text is part ... Read full review


PART ONE Whats Best in Speaking and Writing?
Whats Good about Writing
What Can It Offer Writing?
Nine Virtues in Careless
A Virtue for Writing at the Root
Can We Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?
How Does Revising by Reading Aloud Actually
Living with Two Traditions
Good Enough Punctuation by Careful Reading
How Speech Can Improve the Organization
The Benefits of Speaking onto
PART FOUR Vernacular Literacy
A New Culture of Vernacular Literacy on

A Role for the Tongue in
Freewriting Teach
Where Else Do We See Unplanned Speaking onto
Considering Objections to Speaking onto the Page
Easy Speaking onto the Page
A Role for the Tongue
How Freewriting Went from Dangerous to
A Sampling of Published Writing in Non
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About the author (2012)

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.

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