We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Between Talk And Teaching

Reconsidering the Writing Conference

Laurel Johnson Black

Publication Year: 1998

The teacher-student conference is standard in the repertoire of teachers at all levels. Because it's a one-to-one encounter, teachers work hard to make it comfortable; but because it's a pedagogical moment, they hope that learning occurs in the encounter, too. The literature in this area often suggests that a conference is a conversation, but this doesn't account for a teacher's need to use it pedagogically. Laurel Johnson Black's new book explores the conflicting meanings and relations embedded in conferencing and offers a new theoretical understanding of the conference along with practical approaches to conferencing more effectively with students.

Analyzing taped conferences of several different teachers and students, Black considers the influence that power, gender, and culture can have on a conference. She draws on sociolinguistic theory, as well as critical theory in composition and rhetoric, to build an understanding of the writing conference as an encounter somewhere between conversation and the classroom. She finds neither the conversation model nor versions of the master-apprentice model satisfactory. Her approach is humane, student-centered, and progressive, but it does not ignore the valid pedagogical purposes a teacher might have in conferencing. Between Talk and Teaching will be a valuable addition to the professional library of writing teachers and writing program administrators.

Published by: Utah State University Press

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (696.4 KB)
pp. 1-10

THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT OFFICES WERE ON THE THIRD FLOOR OF the library, on the end near fraternity row. I climbed slowly up the stairs, planting each foot deliberately on the worn marble treads. At the top, to the left, was the secretary's desk. It was a few minutes before five. I stood quietly in front of her, happy to let seconds pass as...

read more

ONE: Conversation, Teaching, and Points in Between: The Confusion of Conferencing

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 11-37

I BEGAN STUDYING MY OWN CONFERENCING PRACTICE MANY YEARS ago, while I was still a graduate student. I'll admit that I chose that particular project for my research course because I was smug in my belief that any examination would show the professor and my classmates how fair, honest, critical, thoughtful, reflective, and even nurturing I was. It would show that...

read more

TWO: Power and Talk

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 39-60

MANY OF THE PROBLEMS THAT OCCUR BETWEEN STUDENTS AND teachers in conferencing arise because of the difference in power between participants. In classrooms, that power difference is indicated in many ways--for example, in the geography and use of physical space. In most classrooms, one teacher occupies the front third of the classroom, while in contrast...

read more

THREE: Gender and Conferencing

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 61-85

RECENTLY, A GROUP OF STUDENTS IN MY FIRST-YEAR COMPOSITION class ran a game in which three teams competed for a prize of candy by correctly answering questions about grammar. Members of each team signaled their readiness to answer by shouting "Bing!" There was no penalty for a wrong answer except that another team could then try. I realized, as I watched a team of all women competing...

read more

FOUR: Cross-Cultural Conferencing

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 87-119

Ben finished telling me about his plans for writing the upcoming paper. Then, before I could speak, he leaned forward and in a rush of words beginning with "because," he justified all that he had just told me, earnestly supporting each of his arguments. Perhaps I had drawn one of those breaths that said I would challenge him; maybe I squinted my eyes in one of those...

read more

FIVE: The Affective Dimension

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 121-146

I LOVE TEACHING. I LOVE TO READ BOOKS, I LOVE TO READ STUDENT papers, and I love to read, period. As a undergraduate, I "hated" Portrait of a Lady, but I "loved" McTeague. T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens interested me, but Robert Bly, Sylvia Plath, and William Stafford moved me. I was embarrassed by my writing in an introductory fiction class, to the point...

read more

SIX: Possibilities

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 147-167

I SETTLED BACK IN THE BIG GREEN CHAIR AND READ THE TRANSCRIBED words of students and teachers. I read my own words in journals and old transcripts. I looked at data sheets and columns of numbers. Then I asked myself a question that surprised me, that was deceptively simple: What do I want to happen as a result of my conferencing? I realized that I had hoped when I began to research conferencing...


pdf iconDownload PDF (274.7 KB)
pp. 169-172


pdf iconDownload PDF (16.7 KB)
pp. 173


pdf iconDownload PDF (21.9 KB)
pp. 174


pdf iconDownload PDF (38.7 KB)
pp. 175


pdf iconDownload PDF (189.6 KB)
pp. 176-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213287
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874212419

Publication Year: 1998