Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Writing
writing center, Composition, Socratic Method, elenchus, collaboration, writing center, composition, Socratic Method, elenchus, collaboration, power exchange in collaboration, D/s
The Socratic Method, originally known as elenchus, has long been taken as a “given” in writing center theory and practice. This thesis seeks to question the method’s usefulness. I explore the origins of elenchus to determine its original purpose, and then trace its evolution and appropriation by Expressivist Composition pedagogy. Next, I study the assumptions that must be made in order for the Socratic Method to work and where these assumptions fall short to bridge the gap between ideals and reality. I examine the power relationship between tutor and writer, which is not as egalitarian as it may first appear, and then I suggest a different model of tutor/writer interaction that is not based upon an assumption of equality, but upon the admission that there is an inherent inequality in the interaction between participants in a session. This model uses BDSM (Bondage/domination/submission/sadism/masochism) to study this inequality and explains how it may be purposeful and productive. In the end, elenchus is a method developed in a specific rhetorical situation for a specific purpose, and that purpose may not be in line with what Composition seeks to accomplish.
© Sarah F. Viehmann
Viehmann, Sarah F., "Socrates in Chains: Questioning the Socratic Method in the Writing Center" (2010). MSU Graduate Theses. 3022.