Willard-Traub, Margaret. “Rhetorics of Gender and Ethnicity in Scholarly Memoir: Notes on a Material Genre”

 

In this essay, Willard-Traub theorizes the role of reflexivity in the academic writing of three scholars who draw on autiobiography  to negotiate identity and create material consequences.  Willard-Traub identifies this genre of reflective academic writing that is situated in the subjectivity of the writer-researcher and thus disrupts traditional expectations of “objectivity” a material genre.  According to Willard-Traub, this material genre creates unique relationships between writers and readers by forging material connections (social, individual) between writers and readers that entail material consequences (512).  Willard-Traub relies on Bahktin and others to demonstrate that language is always embedded in social experience and adapts itself to unique social situations in the present.  Language is also a “living thing that relies on relationships among speakers, listeners, and contexts” (516). Often, as Wendy Hesford helps make clear, this genre can be thought of as a materialist “’countergenre that negotiates asymmetrical power relations and participates in the transformation of the cultural production of identify, social relations, and historical memory’” (qtd. on 515).  In addition, this genre can be viewed as “’contact zones—as practices through which individuals negotiate conflicting identities and contradictory discourses’” (qtd. On 515). As such this material genre is one in which performs a reconciliation of scholarly theorizing about the world with the practice of living in the world (517).  It acknowledges and makes explicit that which is always not true— “that uncomplicated subjectivities…do not transcend the walls of the institution” (520).  Overall, what a material genre both reflects and embodies is the notion that language has material consequences, especially for the writer’s themselves.  As Willard-Traub demonstrates through analysis of one scholars’s work, reflective academic writing is often a liminal space in which both material and discursive identities are negotiated (522).  This space is exists between objective and expressive forms of writing, for it is a performative space in which identity is negotiated as writers encounter the changing world around them (523-4).   

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2 Comments

Filed under cultural rhetorics exam

2 responses to “Willard-Traub, Margaret. “Rhetorics of Gender and Ethnicity in Scholarly Memoir: Notes on a Material Genre”

  1. Dear Chris,
    i am interested in surfaces and I saw the sculpture on https://thoughtjam.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/willard-traub-margaret-“rhetorics-of-gender-and-ethnicity-in-scholarly-memoir-notes-on-a-material-genre”
    could you disclose the source… (sculpturer, material, location)
    thx!
    saludos de Nicaragua,
    Johannes

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