17 March 2009
Informal Response – Audience and Voice
One interesting section the chapter is where Neman talks about simulating an audience and finding an actual audience (198-200). This is something that I always struggled with conceptualizing as a student of writing. Many times I have been asked to complete a prewriting or post-writing activity that included what my audience would be for the paper. Though I always put a different answer, because I knew that this is what was expected of me, I usually just wanted to write, “My audience is you since you are about to give me a grade.” I like some of the practical ideas that Neman offers up for this dilemma. Letters to the editor can be nice if they are truly inspired by the student’s desire to make their voice heard. It can be difficult when students feel forced to write these, however, because I think that it will come through in their writing that they are doing it because it is their assignment and not because personal desire. I really like the idea of writing for publication, because it sets a lofty goal for the students. One downside is that it is unlikely that every student’s writing could ever be published, but it good because it conveys high expectations and the sight of one’s own work in print could be very rewarding. I also like Neman’s idea of making use of the natural classroom audience. The best thing about that is that it offers a chance for real live feedback from classmates. It is important that a teacher manage such a scenario well so that students stay focused and on task, but I believe that a good fairly easy exercise in audience would be one like this that has the audience right there in front of the writer.
If I may go on a brief rant, I take some issue with the way that #1 is presented in Student Guidelines to Avoid Sexist Language (206). I do not believe that using plurals is the solution to this issue. I know that this is not the widely agreed upon solution, but personally I prefer to use “his or her.” While it is important to discourage sexist language, it is also important to encourage number agreement in sentences. Though awkward sounding, this takes care of both of these needs.