The Primacy of Language

As defined by Patricia A. Dunn in her work titled Talking Sketching Moving: Multiple Literacies in the Teaching of Writing: “Generally speaking, composition believes that writing is not simply one way of knowing; it is the way.” In the English course, Composing Digital Media,  at the University of Pittsburgh, composition would best be defined as follows: a unique and distinct perspective on a topic that can be interpreted differently by each and every individual. These two definitions vary from one another in a very crucial aspect: the way and the ways (plural) that the term composition can be interpreted. Patricia A. Dunn believes that the term composition can only take on one form, a singularity. The University of Pittsburgh’s English Composition course takes a much more holistic approach and views the term composition from multiple perspectives, plurality.

When writing is conflated with knowing our culture and future generations are sculpted by society’s literature. “Language is a social product. The language system in which we are educated, and in which we think, shapes the way we perceive the world around us.” Thus, in order to change who we are and the way the world revolves around us, we must first change our culture’s lingual system. The implications of this are far reaching and have many unforeseen consequences.

Compositional knowing, is not the only type of “knowing”. Knowing comes in many colors and flavors, such as, “body knowing”, “emotional knowing”, “visual knowing”, “auditory knowing”, “taste knowing”, “smell knowing”, etc.

The “primacy of language” is the belief that language is the most important aspect of society. I believe this speaks to the work in our class in a variety of ways, depending on how one defines language. If language is define solely through the process of auditory speech, then we are lost. If one defines language as a way of representing information to others through pictorial, auditory,  or aural forms of communication, then our class is truly a display of the “primacy of language”. This English class displays stories through forms of pictures, audio, and video, a true representation of the primacy of language when defined through various forms of media.

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