“Rethinking the Writing Process in International Contexts” with Taylor Kobran

IMG_1503Taylor Kobran, an English major specializing in Creative Writing at Dickinson College, discusses her second language writing experience in Bologna, Italy.  Taylor explains how  her writing process changed when she composed in Italian versus English.  For Taylor, the planning stage became translingual and the outlining stage more structured.  taylor1


9 thoughts on ““Rethinking the Writing Process in International Contexts” with Taylor Kobran

  1. The stress on the logical flow of an argument is reminicent of American writing, but it is not the end-all for us like it is in Italy. I thought that it was really interesting that Taylor was able to write in both English and Italian when composing her essays. In class we talked about how this would lead to papers not written in the style of the foriegn language, but she made it work. I was also intrigued when Taylor talked about how her writing process itself changed depending on which language she was writing in. I wonder if this was due to the difference in language (and the discomfort that can stem from it) or the different style of writing?

  2. I think it was very interesting that Taylor had classes in Italian and English, and had to deal with learning and writing papers in multiple languages. While that could have had a negative influence I also think that she developed a very good system of writing and then revising. In my experience, a writer can get so caught up in making sure that the grammar and mechanics of the language are correct that she can lose the initial point she was trying to make. To answer Courtney’s point, I think it may have been the different writing style; different methods of composing accompany languages and cultures. However, it sounds like Taylor got lucky, and the help she received from her teachers and roommate probably helped her feel at ease with her work.

  3. As a student of Italian who has had to compose on multiple occasions, and a guilty procrastinator, I can definitely attest to Taylor’s advice to avoid procrastination on papers in another language. The generation of ideas in your native tongue can be difficult enough when you are pressed for time, but writing in another language during the eleventh hour is close to impossible.

  4. I found this podcast particularly interesting, because this is where I would love to study abroad junior year. It was intriguing to find that despite how different Italy and the United States are different as countries, the writing style is fairly similar in that you have a thesis, an argument, and a conclusion. However, in Italian it is not as important to have a clear thesis, it is more important to prove your point. I also was interested to find how Taylor’s writing process changed when she switched from English to Italian; it wasn’t as structured as it was in English regarding outlines and planning ahead what she would write. I was impressed that she was able to write with less structure, for me personally writing in a second language, it would be more reassuring to have a structure and know exactly what I’m doing, but I can see the logic of her process.

  5. I think it was interesting that Taylor’s writing process lost some of it’s structure in comparison to her English compositions. She seemed to do more “write-as-you-go” which seemed to more coincide with the style of Italian writing, which seems to focus on making sure the point was made. I think this was interesting, as it seems to view the thesis development done by English speaking with a sort of condescension, by simply being impressed that the second-language writer can write coherently. However, according to Taylor, there is a greater focus on evidence, which would allow a greater flexibility in the writing process, for a more logical than thesis driven essay. This may be the cause of her more “write-as-you-go” style, which could also be due to her logical thinking in English and then translated into Italian.

  6. I found it interesting that Taylor was able to use her methods of writing in English for writing in Italian without too many alterations. I was surprised that her professor would comment mostly on sentence-level concerns, but this could also be attributed to the fact that Taylor was an international student writing in a second language. I also enjoyed her discussion of student-professor relations, and it made me appreciative of the opportunities we have here at Dickinson to develop close rapports with our professors inside and outside of class.

  7. There seemed to be fewer differences between U.S. and Italian writing cultures than between U.S. and French, though I saw one crucial difference. The Italian university system is dependent on the oral exam given at the end of the semester, and so the essays were essentially “theme-building” for that oral exam. Perhaps as a result of this, the Italian system concerned itself less with the thesis and argument of the essay, and more with whether the essay makes sense; after all, it was just a build-up for the oral. However, this difference could also be a result of the student-professor relationship; students are not expected to argue with professors in Italy, and so perhaps their essays are not supposed to be as argumentative.

  8. I found this pretty interesting, especially as an Italian student. I was a little surprised that English writing and Italian writing did not seem to have to many major differences. It made me feel better about my writing style within Italian compositions. I definitely connected with her Italian writing style, as well as her feelings toward the challenges of sentence structure in foreign language. Overall, I feel that as a student of Italian, I was able to connect with this podcast. It may benefit to have similar style podcasts for all language/abroad programs at Dickinson.

  9. I found it really interesting to hear Taylor talk about the development of her writing process as she became more accustomed to the expectations of her Italian professors. In some ways I was very impressed at her ability to integrate her English writing style with these Italian expectations. I was especially intrigued when she discussed how she wrote in a less structured manner in Italian because it was more important that she prove her point then for her to have a clearly defined thesis. I really liked the way she described the Italian process because it seemed to be very tied to oratory performances which I really enjoy as a student.

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