Min-Zhan Lu

In “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle” Min-Zhan Lu discusses her struggle to separate reading for culture and reading for academics. She discusses the impostor syndrome she felt as a multilingual student. Ultimately, she sought to clarify the purpose of academic discourse and the place of home learning within that spectrum. Her background as a Shanghai Chinese dialectical native speaker, English language acquisitioned learner, Standard Chinese learner, home tutored and private schooled student creates the basis for her goal to merge the concepts of contextual reading and writing and other forms of reading and writing.

Min-Zhan Lu labels the excesses that some go to speak English imitating that of a native speaker, observing a sample of South Korean children who undertake surgery to eliminate pieces of their tongues (42). Lu argues that instead of trying to speak faultless standardized English, users of English should embrace its capability to transform as an active language, observing that “our sense of ease with a particular usage might inadvertently sponsor systems and relations of injustice” (48).

Lu’s method of delivery offers a technique to improve students’ education by employing academic discourse next to home-based discourses and stressing the alterations between them. Being benevolent in granting students more consultant and accountability to discover and reflect on how their ways of collaborating and thinking change based on revelation within academia. Lu pursues to address and apply contradiction to academic writing and Standard English. Lu offers an alternative conception of the relationship between basic writing theory and the overall discourse of composition. Lu critiques Shaughnessy in the supposition that students can gain self-assurance and aptitude with academic discourse “in isolation from . . . the dynamic power struggle within and among diverse discourses” (25).

Additionally, Lu takes issue with Shaughnessy’s decision to honor a proper rather than relative approach to other concord of academic discourse. In Errors and Expectations (pages 108 109) Shaughnessy makes the case that students may see the attainment of new meanings of accustomed words as a risk to their individuality.  A contingent method would highlight conflicts of connotation, but a prescribed method would treat the concept of unstable senses in a sort of void space, focusing on prefaces and suffixes of words to exemplify the same principle.

In Language Difference in Writing: Toward a Translingual Approach, Lu added to a collection featuring eighteen essays, divided equally between two sections. The first, “Struggling with ‘English Only’ in Composition,” discusses the evolution of language and provides background on how English Only policies have manifested in the college composition classroom. The second section, “Responses to Struggling with ‘English Only’ in Composition” offers calls to action for increasing linguistic diversity and a discussion of the real challenges presented by attending to these issues. Throughout the collection, the authors continually prove the need for language awareness in the classroom. The problem, Horner asserts in the book’s introduction, is that instructors falsely assume that their students are native speakers of English (1). By exposing attitudes promoting monolingualism, the book makes clear the need to study, teach, and assess language in all of its variations. He provides a historical overview of the evolution of language in the US, including dialects, pidgins, and creoles born out of the travel and expansion of settlers. For example, African American slaves used a type of plantation creole as a form of secrecy. Forgetting the history of a language, or linguistic memory, leads to the notion that some dialects are inferior to standard English.


Lu, Min-Zhan. “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle.” College English, vol. 49, no. 4, 1987, pp. 437–448., www.jstor.org/stable/377860.

Horner, Bruce, et al. “16. In Praise of Incomprehension.” Cross-Language Relations in Composition, Southern Illinois University Press, 2010, p. 230. EBSCOhost

Lu, Min-Zhan and Bruce Horner. “Composing in a Global-Local Context: Careers, Mobility, Skills.” College English, no. 2, 2009, p. 113. EBSCOhost,

Horner, Bruce, et al. “Acknowledgments.” Cross-Language Relations in Composition, Southern Illinois University Press, 2010, p. ix. EBSCOhost

Horner, Bruce, et al. “Language Difference in Writing: Toward a Translingual Approach.” College English, vol. 73, no. 3, 2011, pp. 303–321., http://www.jstor.org/stable/25790477.

Lu, Min-Zhan and Bruce Horner. “The Problematic of Experience: Redefining Critical Work in Ethnography and Pedagogy.” College English, no. 3, 1998, p. 257. EBSCOhost

Lu, Min-Zhan. “The Vitality of the Ungrateful Receiver: Making Giving Mutual between Composition and Postcolonial Studies.” JAC, no. 3, 1999, p. 335. EBSCOhost

Min-Zhan, Lu. “Conflict and Struggle: The Enemies or Preconditions of Basic Writing?.” College English, no. 8, 1992, p. 887. EBSCOhost

Lu, Min-zhan. “Fish.” Prairie Schooner, no. 2, 1991, p. 61. EBSCOhost


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