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Examining Contrasting Views Of Texts In Introduction To Scholarship In Modern Languages And Literatures

1699 words - 7 pages

The range in which one could define a text is nearly infinite. A text can be informative, while a text can also be misleading. From a poststructuralist context, in “Work to Text,” Roland Barthes articulates a text as a process. Barthes explains that a text accomplishes a meaning that is “irreducible” (1328). Barthes also explains that a text requires a reader to combine the practice of reading and writing as a “single signified practice”, to produce the text, “open it out, set it going” (1331). Essentially, Barthes conceives that a text can be understood as a process for understanding. A work is closed, while a text can flourish when actively read. A text can only have meaning if ...view middle of the document...

Jarratt’s conception of a text derives all meaning from the author because by design, a text is influential. Text formulation according to Jarratt is a “resource for invention” (83). Rhetoric gives writing purpose.
In “Composition,” David Bartholomae argues that the exercise of composition is a process. Text composing, according to Bartholomae, is an evolving practice. Bartholomae’s discussion over the study of composition begins with the notion that “the teaching of composition is ungoverned, generally uniformed, and poorly sponsored” (105). Bartholomae does not place blame on the inadequacy of students, but rather teachers who are “ill prepared to think of them (students) as participating in the work of the academy” (113). Although assumptions of composition studies are universal, the actual practice of writing is unique to the individual. Teacher’s engagement with composition in the classroom has since attempted to bridge the gap between learning and experience in order to retain student interests. Bartholomae claims that the image of a student writing freely is “one of the most powerful and persuasive figures in the contemporary writing classroom” (116). Bartholomae suggests that the composing of a text is internal and dependent of the writer.
In “Poetics,” Charles Bernstein maintains that the practice of writing is innate to the writer. According to Bernstein, poetics is “an ethical engagement with the shifting conditions of everyday life” (129). Poetics can be referred to as a literary genre, “works on the philosophy of composition;” poetics can also be “works about poetry written by poets” (128). Poetics is different from literary theory in that poetics is “provisional, context-dependent, and often contentious;” while literary theory can be “described as the application of philosophical, political, or psychoanalytical principles or methods to the study of literary or cultural works” (128). Bernstein stresses that theory implies structure and consistency while poetics will sometimes “go out of its way to seem implausible, to exaggerate, or even to be self-deprecating” (128). Poetics concerns itself with how a work can shape reality. While intention is “the calculated effect of style and technique,” poetics motive is “the underlying reason for a work to come into being in the world, its orientation or trajectory” (130). Bernstein conceptualizes a text as a cultural work derivative of an author because writing is intentional.
Jarratt, Bartholomae, and Bernstein’s conception of text forming share a common motivator, being that the author creates meaning. Each conception of texts presented is similar in that words have no inherent meaning unless formulated by a composer. For example, Jarrett insists that at its most literal, “the communication model of rhetorical action presupposes autonomous speakers fully aware of their intentions and authors of their words” (88). In other words, meaning is dependent of the...

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