Brightkite Conversations

Inspirational Passage of the Day

It is at this point where Ong and Bartholomae connect and clash. For Ong, writers must think of or fictionalize an audience to conform to their expectations. For Bartholomae, writers who “successfully manipulate an audience… who can accommodate her motives to her reader’s expectations is a writer who can both imagine and write form a position of privilege” (Bartholomae 628). This is why I must argue that the standby listener-reader is not yet in a position of privilege (according to Bartholomae), nor is he/she in a seat of manipulation. He/she is free from writer/reader intentions, free from the ideals of “writer-projections” and ultimately free from thought. Regardless of whether or not the original writer (professor) has the standby reader-listener (audience) in mind, the standby, unintentional reader-listener must work their way (or register their way) into specialized discourse.


Foucault is our savior temporarily. In his essay What is an Author he sort of meshes the author-function into perspective for us to at least think our way through understanding the reader/ writer’s purpose. In a way, he validates giving the author (standby reader-listener) credit for his work. He poses the question: “If an individual were not an author, could we say that what he wrote, said, left behind in his papers, or what has been collected of his remarks, could be called a ‘work’? (Foucault 103). Later, however, Foucault asks us to still question the “work” of an accepted author. How then is the standby accepted, and by who? He’s certainly not part of the confined discourse. So all we’re left with, according to Foucault, is “the work” itself. Most of us have been bought by Bartholomae and Ong’s notion of emphasis placed on the writer vs. reader/listener/audience. Seldom is the “work” itself, as a center point of argument, mentioned. Where Bartholomae and Ong put the reader/writer (in front of the text/work), Foucault suggests that author is merely a product of the text. In essence the standby is labeled “standby” because of his role outside of the confined discourse. This complicated analogy suggest that the course itself is the “text”—the context in which he/she dwells or could have dwelled. 


So, how then do we validate the author-function? Foucault states, “The author-function is therefore characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within a society” (108). Therefore, the standby reader-listener becomes radically changed, mentally, and transformable because of the context he is in—not because of his own conscious audience-awareness. This impartial standpoint doesn’t refute Bartholomae’s and Ong’s argument, rather, it suggests an alternative view or compelling stand on the astronomical neutrality of “non-fictionalized” or non-intended readers—you and I.