15 Pages

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Writing as Thoughtful Action at a Distance. Because of the fixity of writing, the chains of meaning that sustain a whole text can survive intact beyond the immediate context. This gives writing a power of potential "distance" not found in face-to-face interaction. Although the audience of the writer may contingently be the same as the familiar audience of the speaker, to make them the same is to reduce greatly the potential of writing. For the majority of college-bound students, the potential of writing as a medium of distance is not well understood. College-ready students are not likely to appreciate that in making meaning for familiar and sympathetic audiences, they are also constructing more or less "plausible" worlds that can rise to the challenge of accommodating anonymous and skeptical audiences as well. Writing that rises to this challenge has a potential audience-a potential reach-far in excess of any audience that comes in the range of simple talk. Another goal of advanced schooling is to help students rise to this challenge and so understand the potential reach of writing as a medium of distance; to help them understand that writing is not simply talk on the page but rather language readied for print, a subtle difference suggesting that the written register must be prepared with the care required to connect with audiences farther removed in time, space, and culture. This care is minimal if the chains of reasoning constituting writing are to be judged probable and valid for a mass or quality audience outside the classroom. Although it is too abstract and lofty a goal to assume that advanced schooling can teach students how to publish, it is not unreasonable to assume that such schooling can teach students about the long-distance requirements of language readied for print, which in tum houses a good many implicit assumptions about requirements for publishing.