Wanderings: Misreadings, Miswritings, Misunderstandings

  • David Bartholomae

Abstract

Let me begin with an anecdote, a cautionary tale. I walk into my class, an entry-level reading and writing class, and begin with what has become a standard exercise by turning to a book I have assigned, in this case Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory. This is a very teachable book — well-suited, in its way, for a composition class. Rodriguez becomes himself a metaphor through which my From Only Connect: Uniting Reading and Writing, ed. Thomas Newkirk (Montclair: Boynton/Cook, 1986) 89–119. students can organize and think about their own experience with education, moving from one world to another, finding in the contradictions of his experience a way of talking about, of inventing even, the contradictions in their own.1 It’s a teachable book also, however, because Rodriguez’s prose resists quick summation or any easy reduction to a “main idea.” It requires application, extension, interpretation —not just summary. It has the grace to ask more of a reader —that is, than assent or affirmation. There is more for a reader to do than admire the author’s wit and wisdom. It doesn’t propose answers to all the questions it raises. It poses problems that the author has not already solved. It’s a hesitant, tentative, contradictory text and, as such, it posits a role for a reader or writer that my students would not (or could not) imagine on their own.

Keywords

Coherence Posit Defend Stake Metaphor 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Hans-Georg Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, ed. and trans. David E. Linge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 57.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    George Steiner, After Babel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975) 473.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism After Structuralism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982) 67.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975) 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 7.
    Stanley Fish, is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980) 335.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Frank Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979) 45.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Edward Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975) 8.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Harold Bloom, A Map of Misreading (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975) 3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bartholomae
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

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