Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Archive: Writing and Audience

The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

Topic: Writing and Audience

Title: “The Evolving Audience: Alternatives to Audience Accommodation.” Robert G. Roth. College Composition and Communication 38 (1987): 47-55. Reviewed in College Composition and Communication (October 1988), 324. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Found that students’ view of audience evolved as they wrote. Also found that students imagined a variety of audiences as they wrote.

Comment: Peter Elbow (“Closing My Eyes As I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience” College English 49. 1987: 50-69) “…argues for the value of writing carried on without contemplation of an audience. Points out that considering audience can inhibit writing, and that often better writing results if audience is ignored than if it is considered.” I suspect that the role of audience when writing is more complex than it seems.

On the one hand it’s a no-brainer. Writing to respond to someone who disagrees violently with your point of view will affect the way in which you write. On the other hand, when I taught writing, I never paid much attention to audience because I was concentrating on organization of ideas that were owned by the students and I paid attention only to how well they expressed those ideas for themselves, for me and for whoever else would read what they wrote. I should have paid more attention to audience. I think if I were teaching writing today, I would deal with the concept of audience in a unit.

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