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WRTG 101 Midterm Writing and Fighting, Prof. Kidder Page 1 of 4
Writing and Fighting Mid-Term
Due: Sunday, March 17, 2017 at Midnight
Part 1. 10 short answer questions about readings and multimedia. Please try to write
between 1-3 sentences for each. (10 points)
1. Even though they are actually square, why are boxing spaces called ‘rings’?
2. What text is considered the earliest written record of prize fighting and who
wrote it? *Bonus (+0.5): What was the prize for the winner?
3. From Joseph Harris’ Rewriting, what does it mean to forward a text? Please
describe the three main types of forwarding.
4. Also citing Rewriting, what does it mean to counter a text?
5. Please describe Muay Thai fighting and its origin.
a. How many rounds are in a current boxing match? How long is each
b. How many rounds are in a non-title UFC event? How long is each round?
WRTG 101 Midterm Writing and Fighting, Prof. Kidder Page 2 of 4
7. What is an archetype? How does Ronda Rousey define and/or defy an archetype?
8. Which famous author came up with term “Shape of Stories”? Please describe this
9. According to author David Remnick in The King of the World, why does Cassius
Clay become intrigued with The Nation of Islam?
10. In Thrilla in Manila, geopolitics is brought up as one of the reasons this fight was
brought to the Philippines. In your opinion, why did President Marcos want to hold
this historic fight?
11. What does BJJ stand for? Please name at least 3 fighters who are known to use
BJJ as one of their fighting skills.
12. What does it mean when a fighter has a “good chin?”
13. What does it mean to be an “inside fighter”? Please name at least 2 fighters who
present this style.
14. What is the name of the gym where Rocky works out?
WRTG 101 Midterm Writing and Fighting, Prof. Kidder Page 3 of 4
15. What does MLA stand for? Please indicate how you would cite this following
source in the Works Cited?
16. What do “CTE” and “PED” stand for? Please BREIFLY describe what they
17. What is a lede, nutgraf, and a backgrounder? Please explain.
18. Who did Jack Johnson beat to win the Heavyweight Championship? Where and
when did this fight take place?
19. How many rounds was the Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries fight? What was the
total purse for the fight?
20. What was the famous phrase coined by writer about the lead up to the Johnson
vs. Jeffries fight? Please name this writer.
Part 2. 2 short essays (around 200 words). Please use at least one citation for evidence.
a. The most consistent and damning criticism of fighting sports is that they exploit
the competitors. From ancient Rome to the bare-knuckle era in the United
Kingdom, aristocrats or upper-classes often watched while slaves or lower-classes
battled in the ring.
Does the “exploitation narrative” carry over into modern boxing and/or
MMA? Please defend your answer by forwarding and/or countering with at least
one cited piece of evidence.
WRTG 101 Midterm Writing and Fighting, Prof. Kidder Page 4 of 4
b. At the 2017 Golden Globes awards, Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecile B.
DeMille Award, which recognized her body of work as an actress. In her
acceptance speech, she made the following comment: “So Hollywood is crawling
with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep said, a criticism of Trump’s anti-illegalimmigrant rhetoric. “And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but
football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Please write an opt-ed in response to Streep’s statement on MMA. Please
defend your answer by forwarding and/or countering with at least one cited piece
How to Do Things With Texts
How to Do Things with Texts
J oseph H arris
U TA H S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y P R E S S
Utah State University Press
Logan, Utah 84322
Copyright © 2006 Utah State University Press
All rights reserved
Printed on acid-free paper
Cover design by Barbara Yale-Read
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Harris, Joseph (Joseph D.)
Rewriting : how to do things with texts / Joseph Harris.
ISBN 0-87421-642-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN 0-87421-539-0 (e-book)
1. English language–Rhetoric–Study and teaching. 2. Persuasion (Rhetoric)–Study and teaching. 3. Academic writing–Study and teaching. I. Title.
For Kate and Mora
Coming to Terms 13
Taking an Approach
Afterword: Teaching Rewriting
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part
of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without
permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
—U.S. copyright notice
A text is made up of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody,
—Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
y aim in this book is to help you make interesting use of the
texts you read in the essays you write. How do you respond to
the work of others in a way that is both generous and assertive?
How do you make their words and
thoughts part of what you want to
say? In the academy you will often
As Jonathan Culler writes: “Literary works are not to be considered
be asked to situate your thoughts
autonomous entities, ‘organic
about a text or an issue in relation
wholes,’ but as intertextual conto what others have written about
structs: sequences which have
it. Indeed, I’d argue that this intermeaning in relation to other texts
which they take up, cite, parody,
play of ideas deﬁnes academic writrefute, or generally transform.” The
ing—that whatever else they may
Pursuit of Signs (Ithaca, NY: Cornel
do, intellectuals almost always write
University Press, 1981), 38.
in response to the work of others.
(Literary theorists call this aspect of writing intertextuality.) But to respond
is to do more than to recite or ventriloquize; we expect a respondent to add
something to what is being talked about. The question for an academic
writer, then, is how to come up with this something else, to add to what has
already been said.
My advice here is to imagine yourself as rewriting—as drawing from,
commenting on, adding to—the work of others. Almost all academic essays and books contain within them the visible traces of other texts—in the
form of notes, quotations, citations, charts, ﬁgures, illustrations, and the
like. This book is about the writing that needs to go on around these traces,
about what you need to do to make the work of others an integral part of
your own thinking and writing. This kind of work often gets talked about
in ways—avoiding plagiarism, documenting sources, citing authorities, acknowledging inﬂuences—that make it seem a dreary and legalistic concern.
But for me this misses the real excitement of intellectual writing—which is
the chance to engage with and rewrite the work of other thinkers. The job
of an intellectual is to push at and question what has been said before, to rethink and reinterpret the texts he or she is dealing with. More than anything
else, then, I hope in this book to encourage you to take a stance toward the
work of others that, while generous and fair, is also playful, questioning,
This has led some readers to ask why I’ve chosen a term like rewriting to
describe this sort of active and critical stance. And, certainly, I hope it’s clear
that the kind of rewriting I value has nothing to do with simply copying or
reciting the work of others. Quite the contrary. My goal is to show you some
ways of using their texts for your purposes. The reason I call this rewriting is
to point to a generative paradox of academic work: Like all writers, intellectuals need to say something new and say it well. But unlike many other writers, what intellectuals have to say is bound up inextricably with the books
we are reading, the movies we are watching, the music we are listening to,
and the ideas of the people we are talking with. Our creativity thus has its
roots in the work of others—in response, reuse, and rewriting.
Rewriting is also a usefully speciﬁc and concrete word; it refers not
to a feeling or idea but to an action. In this book I approach rewriting as
what the ethnographer Sylvia Scribner has called a social practice: the use of
Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts
certain tools (paper, pen, computer)
in a well-deﬁned context (the acadSylvia Scribner, “The Practice of
emy) to achieve a certain end or
Literacy,” in Mind and Social Pracmake a particular product (a crititice (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 190–205.
cal essay). There are practices in all
walks of life—ways of farming and
gardening, of working with leather
or wood, of interviewing clients and counseling patients, of teaching and
coaching, of designing and engineering, of setting up labs and conducting
experiments. A practice describes how the members of a particular craft or
trade get their work done. A problem with many books on writing, it seems
to me, is that they fail to imagine their subject in meaningful terms as such
a practice. Instead, they tend to alternate between offering advice that is
speciﬁc but trivial—about proofreading or copyediting, for instance—and
exhortations that are as earnest as they are vague. Or at least I have never
felt sure that I knew what I was actually being asked to do when called upon
to “think critically” or to “take risks” or to “approach revision as re-vision.”
But by looking here at academic writing as a social practice, as a set of strategies that intellectuals put to use in working with texts, I hope to describe
some of its key moves with a useful speciﬁcity.
Much of my thinking about writing hinges on this idea of a move. My
subtitle alludes to one of the quirkiest and most intriguing books I have
ever read, the philosopher J. L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words. In
this book, actually the notes from a series of lectures, Austin argues that in
thinking about language his fellow philosophers have long been overconcerned with decoding the precise meaning or truth value of various statements—a ﬁxation that has blinded them from considering the routine yet
complex ways in which people use words to get things done: to marry, to
promise, to bet, to apologize, to persuade, to contract, and the like. Austin
calls such uses of language performatives and suggests that it is often more
useful to ask what a speaker is trying to do in saying something than what
he or she means by it.
While I don’t try to apply Austin’s thinking here in any exact way, I
do think of myself as working in his mode—as trying to show how to do
things with texts, to shift our talk about writing away from the ﬁxed and
static language of thesis and structure and toward a more dynamic
J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with
vocabulary of action, gesture, and
Words, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA:
response. You move in tandem with
Harvard University Press, 1962).
What I ﬁnd of particular interest
or in response to others, as part of
to my work here is a moment, near
a game or dance or performance or
the very end of his lectures, when
Austin offers a short list of what
a goal and sometimes just to keep
he calls “expositive” verbs—those
that are used in “the expoundthe ball in play or the talk going,
ing of views, the conducting of
sometimes to win and sometimes to
arguments, and the clarifying of
contribute to the work of a group. I
usages and references”—in effect,
hope in this book to describe intelbeginning to outline his own set of
“moves” for academic writing (see
lectual writing as such a ﬂuid and
social activity and to offer you some
strategies, some moves as a writer,
for participating in it.
To do so, I draw on my experiences over the last twenty years as a writer
and teacher of academic writing. And so, while this book is ﬁlled with examples of intellectuals at work with texts, they are examples that perhaps, in
the end, tell as much about my own tastes, training, and values as anything
else. That is to say, in this book I use my own ways of responding to and
working with texts, my own habits of reading and writing, as representative of what other academics and intellectuals do. The drawback of such
an approach, I suspect, is not that it is likely to be idiosyncratic but the reverse—that I may end up simply rehashing the common sense, the accepted
practices, of a particular group of writers. But that is also, in a way, my goal:
to show you some of the moves that academics routinely make with texts, to
articulate part of “what goes without saying” about such work.
The Structure of This Book
Each of the chapters in this book centers on a particular rewriting move:
coming to terms, forwarding, countering, taking an approach, and revising.
But these ﬁve moves do not by any means compose a ﬁxed sequence for
writing a critical essay. On the contrary, I am sure that as you work on different pieces, you will ﬁnd yourself using these moves in varying ways and
Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts
for shifting reasons—sometimes making several moves almost at once and
other times focusing on a particular use of a text, sometimes making sustained use of a certain move and other times not employing it at all. I have
ordered the chapters of this book, however, to suggest a kind of ethics of
academic writing, a sense that intellectual work both starts and ends in acknowledging the strengths of other perspectives. And so I begin with what
might be called the generous aspects of working with texts before turning to
more critical forms of rewriting.
In chapter 1, I suggest some strategies for coming to terms with complex texts, for re-presenting the work of others in ways that are both fair to
them and useful to your own aims in writing. In a sense, this is rewriting
in its clearest form. For as soon as you begin to say what you think a text is
“about” you are involved in rewriting it, in translating its language into your
own. But how do you offer the gist of an ambitious, complex, and perhaps
quite long text in the space of a few paragraphs or sentences? How do you
select certain phrases or ideas for emphasis? When do you quote and when
do you paraphrase? For while the point of academic writing is never merely
to explain what someone else has said, to respond to others you need also
to offer an accurate account of their work, one that respects its strengths as
well as notes its limits. Effective use begins in generous understanding.
In chapter 2, I look more closely at such questions of use—speciﬁcally,
at strategies for forwarding the projects of others. I borrow the term forward
from the language of email because I think it describes better than respond
what writers most often actually do with other texts. For outside of a few
situations (teaching, editing, personal letters), readers seldom respond directly to a writer with comments on his or her text (“Dear Mr. Shakespeare
. . .”). They are instead more likely to forward their thoughts about that text
for a group of other readers—the teachers and students in a course, perhaps, or the readers of a journal or magazine or website—much as email
users often resend posts that they think will interest certain friends and colleagues, usually with a set of carats (>) or a vertical line marking off the
original text from their own comments. Anyone who has participated in a
listserv knows how complicated and layered such posts can grow, as members insert remarks and delete passages before reforwarding a post back to
the group, often resulting in a palimpsest of comments upon comments
upon comments upon an original post. While I don’t want to push this analogy too far, I do want to hold onto the idea of academic writing as involving
this sort of ongoing recirculation of texts. As I use the term, then, a writer
forwards the views of another when he or she takes terms and concepts from
one text and applies them to a reading of other texts or situations. The most
important questions to ask a writer at such points often have less to do with
the text being read than with the uses being made of it. In coming to terms
with a text, your focus lies on understanding and representing its argument.
In forwarding a text, you seek to extend the range and power of its ideas and
phrasings. In this sense, the ﬁrst two chapters sketch out ways of reading
with an author, of rewriting as building upon the work of others.
Chapter 3 offers a mirror image of this emphasis, suggesting ways of
reading against the grain of a text, of rewriting as a way of countering ideas
and phrasings that strike you as somehow mistaken, troubling, or incomplete. I don’t explore here the (limited) dynamics of pro-and-con debates,
of writing whose aim is to simply to prove why someone else is foolish or
wrong. For such work aims not at rewriting but erasure. Instead, I look
at some of the ways you can develop what you have to say as a writer by
thinking through the limits and problems of other views and texts. Such
work involves more than shouting down an opponent or ﬁnding ways of
discounting her or his arguments; an effective counterstatement must attend closely to the strengths of the position it is responding to, and thus
in many ways depends on representing that position clearly and fairly in
order to make full sense. The characteristic stance of the counterstatement
is “ Yes, but . . .”. This sort of rewriting—in which a writer aims less to refute
or negate than to rethink or qualify—seems to me one of the key moves of
Identifying Writerly Moves
See if you can locate texts that offer examples of the ﬁrst
three rewriting moves that I describe here: coming to terms,
forwarding and countering. (You may ﬁnd a single text that
offers examples of two or more of these moves.) Mark those
Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts
moments in the text where you see the writer making these
moves, and be ready to talk about what you see him or her
You may also want to see if you can ﬁnd instances of
writers making moves with other texts that my terms don’t
seem to describe very well. What other terms might you
offer in their place?
I then turn in chapter 4 to a form of rewriting that is at once generous
and critical, in which you adopt, extend, and rework the driving questions
and concerns of another writer. In taking an approach, you do not merely
make use of a particular insight or concept from another writer (as in forwarding) but draw on his or her distinctive style or mode of working. This
form of rewriting often involves applying a theory or method of analysis
advanced by another writer to a new set of issues or texts. But you can also
build on the insights of another writer, ask the sort of questions she might
ask, draw on her characteristic uses of words and ideas, adapt her style of
thought and writing to the demands of your own project—in ways that are
at once more subtle and powerful. In this chapter I offer some strategies for
working assertively in the mode of another writer, of taking an approach
and making it your own.
Coming to terms, forwarding, countering, and taking an approach describe four ways of rewriting the work of oth …
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