Interacting with Texts

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Entering into a conversation with a published text by way of critical analysis is often the main writing act that students anticipate when they enter the ENGLWRIT 112: College Writing classroom. This unit asks you to explore this concept of critical analysis in a way that extends and complicates the analytical interaction. In order to do this, you will spend significant time with an assigned published text, ascertaining the key terms of the text and identifying an entry point where you can interrogate the work. There are a variety of options when it comes to interacting with the published text: you could focus on rhetorical analysis, the strength of the argument put forth in the published text, extending or tempering the position of the published text, reflection, conversation or any combination of these.

Unit Goals

  • Develop a purposeful response to published texts.
  • Fairly represent a writer’s ideas through summary, paraphrase, and quotation.
  • Discover new insights by analyzing intention, meaning, or effect of texts.
  • Engage in the composing process to gain understanding of creating for different modes, media, or genres.
  • Use effective rhetorical choices to write and revise for an academic audience.

One of the main challenges of the Interacting with Texts essay involves balancing voice for an academic audience, which can be difficult. Oftentimes, in a bid to fairly represent the work of the published text being critiqued, your own voice may be sidelined. This unit works to recalibrate your voice in an academic context. While Interacting with Texts does not engage with the personal perspective in the same way as Inquiring into Self does (by focusing on pivotal places and personal contexts), it does invite you to carve out a sense of identity in the sphere of academic writing by bringing an awareness to rhetorical choices and their inherent value. By exploring themes such as language, oppression, and narratives of illness and injury through a series of mindful rhetorical choices in conversation with specific published texts, the authors in this section share new insights in dialogue with these texts while balancing their own voice and expanding their own ideas.

This unit familiarizes students with processes of summarizing, paraphrasing and direct quotation along with an introduction to MLA formatting including in-text citations and works cited page. All of this prepares the student for Adding to a Conversation by laying the foundations of academic writing skills in order for them to be expanded beyond the parameters of assigned texts, allowing students to showcase your rhetorical prowess on a topic of your choice. As writing is primarily conceived of as a social act in the College Writing classroom, this unit helps students to combine your academic writing skills with your individual identity as a writer, clarifying the exigence of your work before entering into Adding to a Conversation where you will add your voice to an ongoing conversation on a topic of social importance that also has personal meaning for you.


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UMass Amherst Writing Program Student Writing Anthology by University of Massachusetts Amherst Writing Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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