The Rhetorical Power of Heuristic Quotations: Incorporating The Wen Fu Into the Writing Center
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"For many years I have promoted a simple but useful routine in our writing center, typically practiced by my staff of student writing consultants on a weekly basis: the act of locating and displaying sage quotations on some aspect of writing, expressed by important thinkers—including philosophers, scientists, teachers, politicians, entrepreneurs, and artists, among others. Such quotations serve a different purpose than merely inspirational quotations, which appear on all sorts of things these days, and in many surprising places, from a coffee cup1 to the webpage of UCLA’s Office of Instructional Development2. Using “heuristic quotations” (or “HQs”—as we call them) involves discovering substantive statements that capture the thoughts or sentiments of published writers from diverse backgrounds, with varied interests, each addressing an important facet of writing. The heuristic quotations we feature are typically written by hand, in bright colors, on a marker board that prominently hangs just inside the door of our facility. An almost effortless instructional method, the posting of heuristic quotations reinforces our collaborative approach to peer consulting in subtle but useful ways, providing visual prompts that can orient writers and consultants toward thinking about, and working on, common goals. Practically speaking, heuristic quotations operate as a kind of rhetoric, illustrating one beneficial way in which, as Melissa Ianetta argues, “the rhetorical tradition and contemporary writing center studies can illuminate one another” (39)"