About

“Read, Write, Now” is about…well…Reading, Writing, and Now. In other words, flexible enough to let me write about whatever happens to come to mind. But mostly it’s about reading–to some degree the things I am reading, but more specifically about reading as a phenomenon, as a human activity. The reading crisis, reading history, reading theories. In general I’m interested in how reading is imagined in this cultural moment. Everything from the image of reading in Harry Potter and Hannibal Lecter to the reading panic that besets governments from Korea to the USA. Still the “Now” part of “Read, Write, Now” lets me talk about anything, I guess, including the peculiar tendency of New Yorkers to think of those of us residing west of longitude 73 as provincial. A tendency I find….provincial.

I hesitate to say I’m a professor, because I think folks find that off-putting. However, there is nothing for it. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to use this blog not to convey expertise so much as to explore my own writing process. After having worked for ten years on a book manuscript related to African American literature, masculinity, and religion, I’ve started to explore a brand new obsession. Given that I work better when I write for someone, and given that blogging seems to be a new form of reading that’s mushroomed in the last decade, it seems right. Though I’m old fashioned enough to hope that what comes of this is published in paper rather than on a Kindle. I hope you’ll help.

Contact me at ppowers at messiah dot edu

3 thoughts on “About

  1. Read your post about listening vs. reading and then jumped to this page regarding “about” your blog. I am curious to know your thoughts about this….If you had a son who struggled with reading and was getting intense remediation but had very high verbal comprehension and had access to audio books…would you push him to acquire as much information as possible in audio format or learn to read traditionally as best as he could?

    My son has remarkable recall when information is presented in audio….almost in every detail, yet struggles with each printed word and writing is similar but oral dictation is spot on…

    Do you think he could make it in college with audio books and computer dictation or should we lower our expectations?

  2. Thanks for your note. Let me stress first that I am not an expert in learning issues per se, so I would encourage you to seek out additional counsel. Let me stress second that a blog is always a work in progress. Some of my thinking on this issue has changed and modified over the past couple of years, even though I still hold to the basic premise that reading and listening are two very different activities that don’t directly substitute for one another. There’s a lot of evidence out there now that different parts of the brain are engaged in the processes of listening and reading, and we ought to at least attend to that.

    It sounds to me as if your son is very gifted when it comes to listening. I’m not terribly surprised that he evinces a very strong memory associated with these listening skills. Some studies of the brain show that listening activates short term memory centers to a much higher degree than does reading, and in fact the ability to remember details can atrophy in people who read a lot simply because they don’t have to exercise the recall of details in the same way. If I need to remember something I’ve read, I know I can just go look it up, so I don’t attend to it in the same fashion. Both skills are important, but it is good to treat your son’s abilities as a strength even as you recognize other places where he struggles.

    The short answer to your main question is that your son very much could succeed in college. We have a professor in our English department here at Messiah College who is blind and who thus relies almost totally upon auditory versions of the papers his students turn in or the books he teaches. I would encourage you to look in to what the colleges your son is interested in supply in terms of support for learning disabilities. We have a very good track record here at Messiah, and there are other colleges that are improving in this area as well. I can’t say what exactly could be provided, but I do know that the first step is to have your son’s condition diagnosed by a physician. That’s the baseline that’s almost always necessary before schools can provide special accommodations. If a physician or other learning specialist diagnoses your son with a condition that requires he have audio-books and that he be allowed to dictate his answers for essays or essay questions on tests, this can almost surely be accommodated at a school like Messiah, though I should say that I am not the person in charge here of what kinds of things are permissible or not.

    The basic question of whether your son could aspire to college is a very strong yes. It comes with the caveat that you should look carefully at colleges and make sure they can supply the kinds of support and accommodations he would need.

    Hope this helps.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog while trying to decide on a better URL for the blog I am using for teaching–and I wondered if “readwritenow” was taken. Currently, I have a blog under “digiriki” since the theme of my course was writing self. However, I have shifted focus over the years, making the blog more of a space for posting class notes, writing and reading tips, as well as sharing articles that I have stumbled upon. Your “about this blog” section reminded me that our blogs can be a space to both explore our own writing process while sharing what is interesting and timely. Thanks for the inspiration. I look forward to reading your blog regulary. 🙂
    Riki Thompson (UWT)

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