Designed for Jen Hirt’s contribution to The Turnip Truck(s) destruction issue.
Two years ago, my honors freshman composition class came to a halt while we considered the purpose of Haruki Murakami’s meandering prose in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. As I attempted to get the discussion on track, I realized I had not done enough to invite my students, creatively and critically, into the textual landscape—a crucial step in preparing students to navigate other terrains in academia and beyond.
It was a cinch to cut 11 of 18 pages from a 15-year-old essay, the second essay I wrote in graduate school, but challenging to represent the feelings of the 21-year-old girl who quit debate after watching four California condors fly above the Tehachapi Mountains.
Throughout the semester, we have discussed several aspects of the journey– biological, anthropological, environmental, cultural, and economic. During these discussions, we summarized various essays and examined the texts to find passages that helped develop the essays’ themes and/or the authors’ arguments. For …