Reading Bazerman: Academic Writing

 Many of the assignments for English 600 were handed in by electronically posting to a Moodle discussion forum.  This is a good example of how an electronic forum provides a place for students to comment on each others' work.  

 Since everyone in the class has access to the writings, everyone has an opportunity to offer feedback.

I plan to use electronic forums such as Moodle as a tool for assessing students, as well as a means of soliciting feedback and responses to questions about my teaching.

     Bazerman argues that, as opposed to scientific writing based on known facts that can be proved or disproved, academic writing in the field of English Literature/Composition studies depends largely—if not entirely—on the writer’s ability to create believable claims. For example, since Hartman’s contributions “cannot be measured in terms of a claim to be judged right or wrong, the quality of his whole sensibility is up for judgment” (47).

     This is why writing is damn hard work, especially for us English majors. We can’t look to scientific evidence to help us; we are solely responsible for creating believable, coherent prose. That being said, we also have a responsibility for using sources that are dependable; we need to delve deep into the available literature pertaining to our topic and write as if we have exhausted all possibilities. We must, in short, write as if we are the voices of authority in our field, but we can only do this if we truly have done thorough, exhausting research (Stacey).

     Intertextuality, a concept explored by Bazerman in the essay Intertextualities: Volosinov, Bakhtin, Literary Theory and Literacy Studies, tackles the importance of research to creating an authorial voice. A single text is not just one, but many texts; there exists a history of writing that influences our research (unless we happen to be writing about a completely new realm of literature that hasn’t been discovered yet). According to Bazerman, writing a research paper is not only a matter of locating and inserting pertinent quotes; it is also a “journey of learning, of problem formation and reformulation, of careful and thoughtful reading, of evaluation and comment, of synthesis and fresh argument” (60).

     In order for academic writing to be successful—to inspire and have relevance—this concept of research as a journey of discovery must be kept in mind.

Works Cited

Bazerman, Charles. "What Written Knowledge Does".

Bazerman, Charles. "Intertextualities: Volosinov, Bakhtin, Literary Theory and Literacy Studies". Bakhtinian Perspectives on Language, Literacy and Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 20004.

Stacey, David. Humboldt State University, Fall 2007.