Project 1 Writing Construct Sample | Argument | Self-Improvement

Student 1 Student Name ENG 1510 MWF Matthew Vetter 13 December 2012 Can I Use ―I‖ in This?

– The Unavoidable Personality For extended periods of time, any sort of personal writing within an academic text has been discouraged and frowned upon. Teachers and instructors have been training their students to avoid the use of words such as I me, you, we, us, they, their, they‘re, and so on. All of these personal pronouns suggest a much more subjective form of writing and one that may be far more opinionated as well. However, countless rhetorical texts feed off of these personal opinions and ideas. Texts that do not use personal pronouns are simply written in a manner that may seem less opinion oriented and appear more evidentiary based. They are, however, just as personally centered and constructed as the latter; they are merely less obvious to readers. There are numerous myths in the English language in regards to personal writing. These myths are part of the continuing conversation and should be addressed in order to develop a more profound understanding of personal writing. In ―That Way Be Monsters: Myths and Bugaboos about Teaching Personal Writing,‖ Lynn Bloom introduces and explains the thoughts surrounding these myths. Some of these myths include the following (from abstract):   ―Anything written in the first person singular is autobiographical‖ ―Student personal writing is a dying genre, and college courses should concentrate on the new, complicated and difficult‖  ―All personal writing is sufficiently alike in intellectual and aesthetic dimensions to be unrewarding to read or write‖

Student 1  ―Encouraging students to write personally will cause them to be solipsists and egotists and to resist further writing development‖ Such myths seem to be formed by people who do not look clearly enough at texts to see the personality within every word; they cannot decipher or delve deeply enough into them. They believe that academic writing must be strictly supported by evidence and fact, and that a text is not professional if written otherwise. Assuming that personal writing is ―not allowed‖ or that it is unprofessional can be very threatening to academia and the people within the writing community. Writing requires a passion that comes from within a personal element. Without that element, the desire and need to write would essentially be lost. Opinions and individual thought would vanish into thin air, therefore leaving behind arguments and the possibility to develop and continue ongoing conversations. When examining the continuing conversation regarding this concept of personal writing, along with the several authors who have added to the conversation, we find many similar as well as contradictory ideas. Writers such as Greene, Kantz, Murray, Simmons, Elbow and others have rather similar viewpoints as far as personal writing, while writers such as Rosenberg remain slightly deviant. The former agree with personality in writing; they believe in individual arguments and inquiry, originality, and voice. Writers like the latter, however, disagree with personal and individual, experiential writing. Is personal writing truly a ―dying genre?‖ Is it not difficult or complicated? Is all personal writing unrewarding? Truthfully, personality will never go out of style, and personal writing is not necessarily easy. It requires long thought processes and emotion established within the writer, and in turn, is very rewarding. A person can learn much about his or herself through

Student 1 their own writing, and readers can acquire a lot from an author‘s writing as well. Basically, any writing can be considered personal. A writer‘s own work can be dubbed personal writing simply because the writer him or herself wrote it. Research papers, for example, are much more personal than people might presume. They are not limited to simply looking up information and putting it into the paper as ―evidence‖ to support a thesis. Many articles have been written as arguments and conversations between the writer and the audience, and give much personal background. These arguments require the writer to look into different perspectives and standpoints on a topic. The writer‘s purpose is to argue a point, and also discuss in detail other thoughts and ideas about said topic. They can show their own point of view without being nailed down to something specific. Writers may even give each of the ideas they express a ―winning‖ chance by representing every idea in a positive way. They do not necessarily need to argue that one idea is ―right‖ over another; they research opposing ideas to understand where the underlying argument(s) in a construct lie, and to discover more about their own thoughts as well. The arguments in texts come from past ideas and conversations; every argument is brought up by another argument. People come up with ideas and viewpoints based on these past conversations and arguments over a topic, and thus they can build upon them. An individual‘s viewpoint comes very much from within one‘s own personal beliefs and the ways in which they grew up and were raised. The reality is that writers cannot avoid at least some kind of personal writing within a text. Even if it is a research paper, research that is found has most likely somehow been formed because of a past construct or idea of the same or a similar matter. Writing, even in an academic setting, has personal attributes and reflects certain values, virtues, and emotions.

Student 1 These types of researched writings and argumentative texts tend to have some kind of effect on its readers, whether it is emotional, logical, social, or even economical. Overall, these effects are quite personal and any type of research has the ability to create further arguments and conversation, which is what these texts are within themselves—a writer conversing with a reader, as well as other writers. Stuart Greene‘s article, ―Argument as Conversation: The Role of Inquiry in Writing a Researched Argument,‖ explains some of these concepts according to this particular writing construct. Greene‘s focus lies on arguments and writing in terms of conversations. He claims, ―You need to demonstrate to readers that you understand the conversation: what others have said in the past, what the context is, and what you anticipate is the direction this conversation might take‖ (19). In other words, context is everything. For example, in sociology, context is very important and is viewed on personal levels. Each person sees some kind of behavioral or societal concept in a different way based on their own personal experiences and their own culture in the society. This is very similar in writing—the difference being that the contexts are taken and formed into language to be put into words for an audience to read, interpret, analyze, and to think about for themselves. It is all very much provoked by thought and emotion. Context is crucial in writing because in order to have a successful conversation, a writer must take on opposing views and try to understand the conflict at hand, while being able to argue from their own context as well. The point is not to know immediately what to research or to only research one aspect. Truthfully, a writer or researcher finds out much new information during the research process, learning more about the topic itself and discovering completely new arguments that

Student 1 can cause even more debate and controversy. This all has some kind of personal basis, and can cause a writer to develop his or her argument much better. Along with context comes the concept of originality in argumentative texts. The conversation regarding these notions can be seen in various writings. Margaret Kantz composed an article titled, ―Helping Students Use Textual Sources Persuasively,‖ which plays off of context in writing as well as arguments and claims. She explains, ―Students expect factual texts to tell them ‗the truth‘ because they have learned to see texts statically, as descriptions of truths, instead of as arguments‖ (73). Kantz is very persuasive with her argument because she gets her point across, while her article itself is a clear example of her argument. She believes that facts are ―claims‖ that are sometimes used persuasively, and that students should not read a source as a story; they should read it as an article. Kantz understands the struggles of originality in writing, and argues that it is important for a writer to use thoughts and opinions in order to make an original argument, rather than simply paraphrasing and trying to present ―factual‖ information. Originality, which goes along quite strictly with personal writing, is very important in creating an effective argument. Somewhat similar to a documentary, writing has the ability to provide traces of an individual‘s past; it can present previous experiences to an older life, as well as life that is desired. Donald Murray discusses a comparable concept with his article, ―All Writing Is Autobiography.‖ He argues, ―The texts we create in our own minds while we read—or just after we read—become part of the life we believe we lived‖ (65). Murray thinks that personal experience plays a large role in reading and writing. He believes that no matter what kind of writing a person does, it is personal—no ifs, ands, or buts. Murray also claims, ―All writing, in many different ways, is autobiographical, and that our autobiography grows from a few deep

Student 1 taproots that are set down into our past in childhood‖ (58). Murray‘s article expresses his belief that writers return to topics that have very personal meaning to them and relate to some of their past experiences. On another note, people usually read and write what interests them or about things that they can relate to. A person would not read or write something they did not enjoy unless they were required to. Even in situations in which a person has to read something they do not desire to, however, they will gain some sort of insight or some kind of emotion will arise within them, even if it is negative. People may also remember significant past events from reading a text, and may somehow find relation in their lives through the emotion a text may bring upon them. A person‘s life typically revolves around what he or she chooses to read and write, and the ways that he or she reacts to it. In essence, the level of interest a person has for a text is crucial, and affects the ways it is written or read, and the way it is overall perceived. The idea of reading and writing things that cause enjoyment is expressed in Mary Beth Simmons article, ―Personal Writing and the ESL Student.‖ Simmons‘ article explains the importance of personal writing for students. Simmons discusses how ―(ESL) students say they changed their negative attitudes about writing when they were given writing assignments they cared about—a personal connection to the writing assignment‖ (from abstract). Her article gives examples of students who gained a lot from their personal writing, as well as improved significantly as writers. Voice is another concept that complicates the construct of personal writing. It is a clear expression of who we are in our writing. Peter Elbow writes about voice in his article, ―Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries.‖ With the personal elements through voice, Elbow also discusses the importance of ―embracing contraries‖ and thinking about both sides of a topic. Two

Student 1 opposing views can have a very personal basis and reasoning, which can be connected with our own voices in writing. Elbow also discusses the importance of ―hearing‖ a text. A reader wants to be able to hear the voice within a text to really understand it and relate to it in some way. Elbow says, ―With practice, people can learn to write prose that ‗has a voice‘ or ‗sounds like a person,‘ and, interestingly, when they do, their words are more effective at carrying meaning. For when we hear naturally spoken language—or when we hear a difficult text read aloud well—we don‘t have to work so hard to understand the meaning‖ (52). Elbow‘s point illustrates the effectiveness of voice and how reading texts aloud to develop ―hearing‖ of texts can improve a person‘s writing. He also claims, ―It‘s particularly important to learn to hear the voice or voices that readers won’t consciously hear but that may well affect their reaction‖ (52). This statement goes back to the main construct of personal writing and the emotion involved. A clear voice in writing will give the reader—or otherwise, the listener— some kind of feeling, and can even possibly bring up a relation to a past event or experience, such as those expressed in Donald Murray‘s article. People enjoy writing about subjects that remind them of things they relate to, or have once related to, in life. Elbow and Murray, in a way, are trying to argue this point. A person‘s past experiences help shape them as a person, as well as affects their growth and development as a writer and the way they use language to wrap text and arguments around a topic or thought. Heidi Rosenberg lies on a slightly different line for the concept of individual, personal writing in a text. Rosenberg nearly fails to understand, nor opens up to the thoughts of voice, arguments, conversation, and other ideas expressed by writers such as Bloom, Greene, Murray, Kantz, and others. She claims how ―she is not as interested in hearing the story of a single individual's

Student 1 existence, but she does not agree that there is no place for personal writing in academia, and she does not see writing and academics as separate‖ (from abstract). Rosenberg‘s view is interesting because in any text, there is slightly some personal background built within it. Although a specific text may not be written to tell of someone‘s life, looking deep enough into a text will open up the realm of the writer‘s personality and experiences. Overall, a text should not be viewed in a strict, academic, ―matter-of-fact‖ way. Readers should look deeper into a text and try to decipher the personal aspects which writers use. It is crucial to try to hear the voices of writers in order to understand the meaning of their writing better. People must realize that writing more personally and expressing themselves in their work will help them develop more as writers, and in turn help their readers. It should be noticed that all texts have some kind of personal basis, even through arguments in a research paper. A research paper is not simply evidence; it is also made up of personal opinions and viewpoints. A writer would not research a topic and express several views if the research they found did not provoke some kind of thought within them. Every writer has a purpose when they write, which is clearly based on their own personal notions. People must not ignore personal references; they must embrace them and use others‘ personal thoughts to provoke their own. Personal writing contributes to better, more detailed, and more emotionally provoked arguments, and helps a writer truly develop. It also benefits readers so that they may understand texts more thoroughly, and gives them something that can provoke their own ideas and emotions. When all is said and done, personality in writing would be merely pointless to try to elude—it is, in reality, unavoidable.

Student 1 Works Cited Bloom, Lynn Z. That Way Be Monsters: Myths And Bugaboos About Teaching Personal Writing. n.p.: 2000. ERIC. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. Elbow, Peter. ―Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries.‖ Readings on Writing. Eds. Ohio University Composition Committee. Cincinnati: Van-Griner Publishing, 2013. 46-60. Greene, Stuart. ―Argument as Conversation: The Role of Inquiry in Writing a Researched Argument.‖ Writing About Writing. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin‘s, 2011. 9-21. Kantz, Margaret. ―Helping Students Use Textual Sources Persuasively.‖ Writing About Writing. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin‘s, 2011. 67-85. Murray, Donald. ―All Writing is Autobiography.‖ Writing About Writing. Eds. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin‘s, 2011. 56-66. Rosenberg, Heidi D. "Playing In The Intersections: Teaching Composition Dangerously." (2002): ERIC. Web. 28 Sept. 2012. Simmons, Mary Beth. Personal Writing And The ESL Student. n.p.: 1995. ERIC. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.

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