1. Bartholomae’s tone is very formal and highly educated. You can tell his vast level of experience as he analyzes basic writing of freshman college students all the way up to the advanced analytical writing of the colleagues in his profession. “The history represented by this student’s essay, then, is not the history of a musician and it is not the history of a thought being worked out within an individual mind; it is the history of work being done within and against conventional systems.” This quote from Bartholomae shows his position of authority on basic writing. Bartholomae brings to light that all these essays which receive low marks approach the subject matter from the wrong vantage point. Sure, the writers talk about creativity, but when you make a big broad common overview of a subject there is no real analyzation. While the writer may necessarily be correct in what they say, they do not bring up any new original thought on the topic. Bartholomae is arguing, if the writer wants to compose an original piece of work, then to approach from a view that tries to expose weaknesses in the commonplace point of view.
2. My struggles in academic writing have always been finding a vantage point to write from. Just like many of the lower graded essays Bartholomae analyzes, I have a tendency to approach broad prompts from a point of view that is correct but not necessarily a true analyzation or original composition of the subject matter.
3. Writers have to build bridges between their own view and their audience’s view. The writer has to understand what authority he/she has over his readers, then proceed appropriately. The writer and audience have different biases and experiences. These are the gaps the bridges need to cross over. So, if the writer is an expert, and his/her audience are fresh to the subject, then the writing can form into a teaching method. Whereas, if the writer is not as knowledgeable on the subject, he/she, can only hope to maybe present a new point of view and a solid defense. But, many times, at the end of the composition, all the writer tends to do is prove to his/her teacher they have successfully managed to imitate their teachers own knowledge.
4. Bartholomae argues the difference between sentence-level errors and errors in discourse. While sentence-level errors are bad, they only show the writers immaturity in grammar and language. This is can cause some minor errors in translation and interpretation to the audience and hurts the author’s position of authority. This is a minor problem as opposed to errors in discourse when the entire concept and subject of the writing is portrayed without any serious evidence or position of authority.
5. One thing that stands out to me is how Bartholomae constantly refers back to these basic writing style essays throughout the entire essay. He manages to hit different point after different point taking apart and analyzing every weak attribute of these essays. He then gives examples of how to avoid these scenarios and produce essays with much more analytical strength and a stronger voice.
6. Bartholomae’s thesis, or main point/theme, is how students are rarely put in a position of authority in their writing. The prompts for their essays are rarely given a focus for an audience and the prompts are so broad that an entry level writer struggles to find a voice and an angle to approach the writing. If the professors/teachers of these students gave better guidelines for these essays then these students can start to learn how to develop a fundamentally strong and focused essay.
7. Who taught Bartholomae? Has writing always flowed easily for him?
If Bartholomae’s “Inventing the University” is so celebrated then why are so many essay questions still given such a broad and shapeless format?