Free «Lanham thesis» Essay Sample

Lanham thesis is about style. Style refers to a set of tools useful for persuasion. According to Lanham, prose style can be defined by three central values namely; Clarity, Brevity, and Sincerity. This is usually referred to as the C-B-S theory of prose. The C-B-S theory of prose states that prose should be maximally transparent and minimally self conscious, never seen and never noticed. According to Lanham, analysis contradicts the two virtues. It makes one look at the words and not through them. Lanham also states that analysis can only deal with what can be seen, what is, or is made. Such elements in the C-B-S theory of prose view can only be considered as mistakes. Lanham insists ‘Rhetoric’ should not be used in the C-B-S theory. ‘Rhetoric’ should not be analyzed in prose and should be removed all together (Lanham, 2003).

C-B-S theory of prose contravenes much of what is learnt about behavior. It also contravenes common perception about human behavior. According to Lanham, the successful communication that clarity points to is the writers success in getting someone else to share his/her view of the outside world. People compose a view of the world by perceiving it. He concludes to say that if this is true for perception, then it must also hold true for prose. To write is to create a world as well as to view one. Prose cannot be purely transparent as there is no purely self-subsisting model out there to be transparent to. Prose is different from poetry in that prose must be entirely transparent while poetry must be entirely opaque. Poetry is the reverse of prose. While poetry talks about feelings, prose talks about facts (Lanham, 2003).

Lanham argues that the style of writing and the message are equally important. He concludes by saying that writers should not concern themselves so much with the C-B-S (Clarity, Brevity, and Sincerity). According to Lanham, the writing style is important, and writers must cultivate their writing style (Lanham, 2003).

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Elbow “The dangerous method: trying to get it right the first time”

Elbow is concerned with “The dangerous method: trying to get it right the first time”. Elbow argues that a writer should try his/her best to write the work once and not spend a lot of time revisiting the work to make some minor changes. For a writer to be able to use this one step method, the writer must be able to get the whole meaning of the work clear in his/her head first before he/she can start writing. The writer still has to go through two steps; getting the meaning clear in the head and writing. To get the meaning, a writer can make an outline that summarizes the idea that he/she wishes to expound (Elbow, 1998).

Elbow argues that some writers can organize the whole idea in their mind and then write it later. Some writers are able to work under pressure; they can wait until the last minute before they decide on their meaning. It is helpful to a writer to decide on a method of getting the meaning of the work. If the writer already has some scattered ideas of what to write, the writer should make an outline so as to arrange the thoughts and come up with the best meaning. Elbow states that; if the writer does not have any clear idea on what to write, discussing the topic with other people can help surface ideas (Elbow, 1998).

Elbow concludes by saying that when one tries to get it right the first time, one should not try to make it absolutely right since one might need to change it later. For example, it is not necessary for an author to expend a lot of time trying to perfect the starting sentence as this will probably need to be changed later. A writer can just start with the body of the literature work. While working on the body, the writer will be able to visualize the introduction more easily. This method can help the writer to save quite an amount of time (Elbow, 1998).

Halasek, A Pedagogy of Possibility

Halasek is concerned with audience. The writer must understand the audience before starting to write. According to Halasek, audience cannot be successfully determined by simple listings such static characteristics as age, gender, class, or race. Audience extends into a socio-cultural context. Halasek insists that it is not right to restrict that context to the immediate situation in a writing class as Elbow does. Restricting this context minimizes the dynamics of the larger social context (Halasek, 2010).

Halasek considers Previous Audience as voices that have spoken on a given topic. When a writer is working on an idea that has been written before, the previous audience is already a coauthor of the new text. When a writer is working on a text, the writer should not only address the projected, immediate, public, and evaluative audiences. The writer must also address the voices that are part of the conversational history (Halasek, 2010).


The approach given by Elbow of waiting up to the last minute is not always the right approach. This is because one is forced to make a decision on what to write. More often than not, this decision is not the best. The writer is forced to take the first idea that comes to mind because he/she does not have enough time to ponder on other ideas. The message is significant; however, the style with which a writer conveys the message is equally important. Style is as important as the message itself; writers should not concern themselves with CBS, but rather know that style is important, and thus, cultivate their style of writing.


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