What Matters Who Writes?
What Matters Who Responds?
Andrea Lunsford, Rebecca Rickly, Michael Salvo,
and Susan West
Many of you are familiar, I am sure, with much other work on
collaboration that implicitly challenges traditional views of "who
writes?" (I say that the challenges are implicit because, to my
regret, much composition work on collaboration has merely reified
traditional notions of authorship, viewing the group as simply an
aggregate of radically individual autonomous selves.) At the
conclusion of his "Death of the Author" essay, Barthes predicts
that this "death"-- highly exaggerated, as it turns out some 27
years later--would be accompanied by the "birth of the reader."
"What matters who responds?," Barthes suggests, would take on
greater significance. And indeed, the entire reader response
movement and, more recently, the focus on reception theory
elaborate on this question, exploring the ways in which readers
construct meaning and the ways in which particular texts are read,
understood, and deployed in particular times and in particular
places. In composition studies also, much important work has been
done on how students experience reading and responding, and toward
arguing that we should study the strategies and ways of student
readers just as intensely as those of "experts" or professionals.
Less work has been done, however, on the teacher as
reader/responder. Only recently, in fact, have we had any detailed
studies of this kind, most of them growing out of ethnographic
investigations into classroom behaviors and scenes. Foucault's
work, however, once again illuminates the ways in which the reader
or responder--whether student, teacher, critic, or citizen--is as
much a construct as the "author" we spoke of earlier. One can
easily induce a set of "reader functions" to complement the author
functions Foucault posits.
Postmodern (un)grounding *
Title Page *