No author is beyond reproach, and that’s okay.

As a sophomore in college, I took an English class themed around 20th century American literature.  It should have been titled “Moby Dick and postmodernism.”  My final paper for that class is probably the one paper that I have exerted the most concentrated effort on in my career at Michigan so far.  In about fifteen pages of prose, I tackled the question “What is postmodernism, and what implication does it have for authors and the writers of history?”  The basic conclusion I came to was that postmodernism is a movement that actively defies our ability to define anything—it forces readers to be hyperaware of the fact that every text you read is constructed by someone for someone.  Every text has an author, and that author is not above reproach, beyond scrutiny, or without bias.  Putting that learning in context with “Reading and Writing without Authority,” the ideas the article brought up reiterated what I already knew but in a way I hadn’t previously considered.  Studying postmodernism made me feel a little (okay, a lot) cynical towards non-fiction writers in the sense that I started to see everything as at least partially fictitious (they don’t say history is written by the victors for no reason).  But this week’s reading put the idea in a different light: how I can, as an author, embrace the postmodernistic idea that all texts are authorial constructs by writing in a way that says “These are the preexisting ideas in this field, here’s why I agree/disagree, and how I’m going to contribute to the conversation.”

3 thoughts to “No author is beyond reproach, and that’s okay.”

  1. Its funny isn’t it, when you feel like you know all there is about a topic, and you read something new that gives you totally new insight? Hahaha I guess the term I am reaching for here is “mind-blowing” hahahhaa. I definitely agree that this weeks reading gave me something to think about in my future writing!

    PS still no idea what the hell postmodernism is

  2. Whooo boy (not sure the spelling for that one), this post made me start thinking of postmodernism and its circle-thinking. I mean, if you think about it, couldn’t you say that postmodernism work itself is written by a specific author, with a specific agenda, which is writing about how all written work has an author with an agenda? I picture this like the “What would happen if a snake started consuming itself, tail first?”

  3. Aha. Your last line really struck me as interesting. “These are the preexisting ideas in this field, here’s why I agree/disagree, and how I’m going to contribute to the conversation.” That is an absolutely great way to go about writing a paper. As I also posted on Sarah’s blog, sharing opinions other than your own and then rebutting or disagreeing with those opinions would strengthen your argument x 100! It’s so interesting that this reading has helped all four of us to consider writing as a conversation. I’m excited to see how this shapes our writing in the future.

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