First off, I did not really enjoy or agree with this piece. These authors compared the two writings of a PhD candidate and a Freshman in college, they even commented, “Janet knew nothing about the study of ethics; Roger had become steeped in the tradition. Roger had accumulated knowledge of the domain, its issues and its customs; Janet had not. Roger knew how to write as an authority inside the conversation of ethics; Janet was an outsider looking in” (506). Then they spent the next 5 or 6 pages bashing Janet’s writing and making Rodger’s seem Nobel-Prize worthy in comparison. Well, duh his is going to be better, he has 8 more years of college than Janet as well as a previous degree in this academic discipline.
The authors stated, and I paraphrase that, “giving Janet more knowledge isn’t going to give her writing more presence of authority throughout her piece.” Rather, they suggest, that there is something fundamentally lacking in her writing. Later they blame this deficiency on the knowledge-transfer model of education. I disagree with this. If you are writing about something that you have no knowledge whatsoever of, you are not going to write as if you are the sole authority of the discipline. For example, papers that I wrote for economics classes sound far more intelligent that papers that I wrote for AMCULT classes, a discipline in which I know nothing about.
So, apparently Rodger wrote in a style in which the authors approved of; what I’d be really interested in is a comparison of an essay written by Rodger when he was a freshman in undergrad and Janet’s paper. I would harper to imagine that it lacked ‘authority’ and contained many of the same types of central flaws that were exhibited in Janet’s writing. Also the article neglects entirely the process of examining or interviewing Rodger about how he learned to write authoritatively. Additionally, the article never mentioned the gender disparity in writing, which it perhaps should have included.
One quote that really struck me was, “Janet seemed well aware of the customary split between public and personal, and continually resisted inserting herself in the text” (515). I remember that in middle and high school, the English teachers always said, “Never say I in your paper.” What a load of garbage! If there is a relevant example in your life that can be included in the paper, OF COURSE put it in. The one thing that taken from writing at UM is: forget all of the rules of writing.
Overall, I did not feel as though this was informative or worthwhile in any way.