Rhetorical Reading Strategies and Dating a Girl that Reads

Apparently, there are three main strategies to reading: content, function/feature, and rhetorical. Depending on who you are—maybe you’re just a lowly proletariat reader or maybe, like the authors of “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” you are the big-bad bourgeoisie of the reading world—you rely on different strategies more heavily. To be a good reader, you must interact with the text on several different levels. But, this is no easy piece of cake.  The piece ends with authors Christiana Haas and Linda Flower wondering how to teach students to focus less on the content strategy and more on rhetorical. They lamented that teaching people to read this way was as difficult and elusive as teaching people to write this way. Interesting.

I do not know how you would write without focusing on your rhetorical strategy, even if its in a very stunted way. When you set out to write, you have an aim of sharing something with another person or convincing them of something. And even though you might not completely understand why you’re using certain rhetorical moves, you’re still trying to present the information in the most convincing way possible. I took AP Language in high school and formally learned certain rhetorical techniques and wrote essays about how authors presented an argument rather than what the argument was. I must say, that after taking that class I was much more attuned to the rhetorical world simply because I knew why certain moves were being made in a paper, and what the author might be hoping to achieve by it. But I am still wondering, can a writer ever divorce herself from rhetoric?

I don’t think the authors of “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” related reading back to writing in a useful way. Was the Ph.D student in Engineering they used as a benchmark for experienced reading, was he a good writer? Are experienced, saavy readers also good writers?

All this being said, while I was reading this piece I couldn’t help but think of something I read earlier this summer and since writers and all probably struggling in our love lives, I wanted to share it with you. Wait for the kicker at the end for the self-esteem boost.

Date a girl that reads

2 thoughts to “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and Dating a Girl that Reads”

  1. In your blog post, you asked if savvy readers were necessarily good writers and I have the sneaking suspicion that the answer is a strong “yes”. I don’t say this because I have made ten readers of varying strengths speak aloud as they read, analyzed their answers, forced them to write something and then scored their writing accordingly. I say this because of the interconnectivity of reading and writing. The more you read, the more you see examples of successful examples of writing. In fact, I’ve noticed a pattern of writers speaking about how at a young age they tried to copy their favorite writers, though I’m not sure how widespread it is, but it does reflect how people can learn to write from reading. Aftera all, one of the ways many people learn is imitation and reading gives writers something to imitate. Also, the more you read the more you can see patterns in writing and see what works, what doesn’t, and wonder why writers make common choices. For example, many writers begin essays with quotes. I noticed this in high school and used this technique ad nausaum until I finally realized why it can be so effective; you can borrow the authority and the aesthetics of the language someone else used (often someone with a bigger reputation; let’s be honest no one is predisposed to think someone named Julia Adams is credible from a few sentences but they are very inclined to trust someone named Shakespeare or Churchill) to help establish your own credibility as a writer. Also from a less technical perspective, breaking the ice is hard and a lot of introductions can fall into the pitfall of being general and bland. However, it’s pretty easy to use words that you know are good as a guaranteed in (sort of the opposite of using pick-up lines you read on the internet in real life). I think once you’ve copied enough techniques, you gain confidence and start to develop your own style, rightly or wrongly. I didn’t begin this with a quote, because my style, at least in these blog comments, is to cut more to the chase, Moreover, writing has made me a better reader. When wondering why a writer chose an action, I can think back to all the times I used that action and why I did it in order to better understand whatever I am reading.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever paid very much attention to HOW writers present an argument when I read it. I simply try to read the argument for knowledge-seeking purposes, which Haas and Flower openly detest. However, I think it is an interesting thing to think about HOW a writer presents an argument because the method a person uses to deliver his or her message is almost as important, if not more important, as the message itself. It is peculiar to me why I don’t pay more attention to HOW a writer presents his or her argument because I pay a great deal of attention to detail when a politician, or any public speaker presents their argument. I think paying close attention to HOW an argument is delivered in addition to what is actually being said can lead to quite the critical analysis.

    I think I pay more attention to HOW speakers present their argument because I feel more connected to the argument if it is coming out of a person’s mouth than I do when reading something written on paper. I am not sure why I feel this way, I will certainly reflect on this in the next few days. Overall, I think in order to be a complete intellectual individual a person must have a healthy balance between reading, writing, and speaking.

    I also tried to read the link to “date a girl that reads” but it seems to be a dead link. I really am interested in it because it is a dream of mine to date a reader. Readers typically can hold a good conversation and I love a girl who can hold a good conversation. Plus, my mom reads a lot, and you know what they say, men are attracted to women like their mother. Hope you can fix the link because I am think it will be something that I’m interested in.

    (I purposely capitalized the HOW’s in the first paragraph to reiterate to myself that I want to think about this more in-depth in the future)

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