The Authoritative Writer

What often happens in academic writing is that people forget to put themselves in the writing, but what I overlooked is that people don’t put themselves in the pieces they’re reading too. In Penrose and Geisler’s “Reading and Writing Without Authority,” the differences between the two readers and writers are striking since Janet rarely refers to what the author is saying whereas Roger goes deep into the author’s intentions.
Janet removes herself from her own interpretation of the writing and takes the author’s piece as the truth that shouldn’t be argued against. I think this happens in people’s writings because they assume that the author cannot be wrong, but this isn’t true because writing is essentially one person’s thoughts and opinions. When doing research, readers and writers should question the author’s argument and see if they researched everything about the topic.

I think part of why Janet resists using first person in her interpretation is because at a young age, writers are taught not to use the word “I,” so for many people it is easier to use third person. Consequently, what happens is that people are an outsider to the text when they should be inside with the author as well.
I agree that students focus more on “an information transfer model of education” where the focus is summarizing the main ideas rather than trying to construct an own view of the information. It is tempting to do that because in many classes the focus of the exams are the main ideas rather than adding your own opinions in the mix. In the process of writing, it is also important to answer these questions, so the piece has a context of its own. Reading for surface value is simpler because it allows us to go in and out of the text without thinking as hard about what is really going on. When it comes to questioning the text, it depends on the genre and the context of the reading too. In cases of more technical subjects like computer science and biology, it is not natural to question if the author is right or not because they are experienced in their field and the content is not exactly subjective. In these fields, the main focus is to read for information rather than really understand where the author is coming from.
By contrasting Janet and Roger’s experiences, I want to put more of myself in what I read and know that I can disagree with the author’s statements even though it might be counter intuitive at first. This will be helpful as I am doing research or reading for the repurposing project since the topic that I am working on, diversity, can have differing viewpoints, but people only seem to focus on one aspect of it. I want to keep an open mind and look at both sides of the topic. When it comes to keeping an open mind, it means using rhetorical reading strategies that Flower and Haas mention in “Rhetorical Reading and Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” and understand what the author’s purpose is and the context of the piece. Reading is more than about extracting the main ideas only to forget it after the exam. It is also about furthering my knowledge and being a better writer by questioning why the author made certain word choices and sentence structures instead of others.

Melody Ng

Melody is currently a senior studying business.

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