In the Fall semester of 2019, during a class discussion on grammatical choices we make as writers, I used the word “intentional” to describe the way I think about the revision process. For me, the intentionality during revision, from concept refocusing to grammatical editing, is extremely important because it allows the writer to present in the way they feel is most effective. From then on in class, “intentional” because the buzz word for most of our discussions on writing. So, it was interesting to me to read an article discussing the intentionality of grammar in writing.
Laura R. Micciche’s article “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar” explores the importance of understanding the rhetorical choices we make regarding grammar and mechanics. In the article Micciche’s states, “The ability to develop sentences and form paragraphs that serve a particular purpose requires a conceptual ability to envision relationships between ideas” (719). This ability rests in ones knowledge of the rhetorical effects grammar and mechanics have in their writing. I got to experience this first-hand in my Fall 2019 course.
On one occasion, my professor had us practice moving prepositional phrases around in sentences and discuss the varying effects we saw. On a different occasion, we were tasked with analyzing the way coordinating conjunctions, periods, and semi-colons affect meaning or perceived meaning. My professor explained this as his desire to teach us how these seemingly minor choices can change interpretation and meaning in varying social and cultural contexts. Micciche says that “Understanding how language is made and then deployed for varying effects has the potential to highlight the important work of language in our culture” (725).
That is something I want to explore in my own classroom with my students. I want to show them that grammar is important beyond the avoidance of errors—it contributes to the overall meaning of a text. Although I am still exploring methods and approaches to teaching rhetorical grammar to first-year composition students, I know that teaching students the power that lies within intentionality in their choices will give them an edge in their writing.
Micciche, Laura R. “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar.” CCC, vol. 55, no. 4, 2004, pp. 716-37.