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This practice, of course, has a long history -- reading was not a solitary or silent activity until relatively recently.(Scholars debate exact dates, but some point to silent reading as a late-19th-century or even 20th-century phenomenon.) Writing, in contrast, has often been associated with privacy, secrecy and solitude, as Brandt asserts.Writing is also associated not with workplace forms but with poetry and fiction.
However, according to Myers, in contrast with current conceptions of writing that treat fiction and poetry as more cultured than genres such as workplace writing, emails, lists or even theses, Mearns would not have abided by a view of creative writing as somehow more cultured or valuable.
Neither would the prominent progressive educator John Dewey, Mearns’s influencer.
Deborah Brandt voiced this powerfully when she pointed out that while the identity label of “reader” is available to most people -- meaning that most readers could confidently say “I’m a reader” -- the identity label of “writer” is not.
In her book, Brandt demonstrates how cultural narratives around the importance of reading enable families to understand the value of this act and to support reading as a family value and practice.
Most of us learn to laugh off the glaze that comes over people’s faces as we academics in writing studies explain what we, in fact, do write.
The problem is that one image of writing dominates the popular imagination and is weighted with value more heavily than all others: writing as “creative writing,” which is treated as if it’s interchangeable with fiction and poetry.
Brandt notes that in her hundreds of interviews with families, people rarely remembered writing around parents.
For many families, being a writer is not seen as a valuable trade -- it’s the stuff of fiction.
Ideas are spilling madly from his cerebral cortex to the page. I know that is the image in most people’s brains because it is the one I’ve read or heard described hundreds of times by the news media, in popular culture, by writers themselves, in books written by writers on writing, by my students and by friends.
It is also the image most strangers (or distant family members) produce when I tell them my field is writing studies, a discipline dedicated to the academic study of writing of all kinds: college writing, digital writing and workplace writing, just to name a few examples.