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“Between the Drafts” . By Nancy Sommers. “ Between the Drafts” – What is it all about?. Authority – what happens if we don’t listen to authority, do the right thing, etc.? Authority and language – how are they related? Language and life – how are they related?

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between the drafts what is it all about
“Between the Drafts” – What is it all about?
  • Authority – what happens if we don’t listen to authority, do the right thing, etc.?
  • Authority and language – how are they related?
  • Language and life – how are they related?
  • Revision – does it always guarantee improvement? What is a good way to ensure that it may?
  • Stories – how are your personal stories “powerful evidence”?
  • Either/Or – why does Sommers say that either/or positioning isn’t insightful enough? What is the solution?
measuring satisfaction
“Measuring Satisfaction”
  • “ … tourists never see the progressive movement of depths [of the Grand Canyon] patterns, colors, and shadows … but rather measure their satisfaction by the degree to which the canyon conforms to the expectations in their minds. My mother’s AAA guide book directed us, told us what to see, how to see it, and how long it should take us … we never stopped anywhere serendipitously, never lingered, never attempted to know a place” (24).
  • How does authority complicate/challenge knowing? Have you experienced something similar to what Sommers describes above?
the either or positioning
The “Either/Or” Positioning
  • “As we said then, either you were part of the problem or you were part of the solution; either you deferred to authority or you resisted it by questioning. Twenty years later, it doesn’t seem that simple. I am beginning to get a better sense of my legacy, beginning to see just how complicated and how far-reaching is this business of authority. It extend into my life … reminding me again and again of the delicate relationship between language and authority” (25).
  • Does this excerpt complicate your understanding of how we’ve been approaching critical modes of thinking and questioning? How so? If authority isn’t a simple choice for or against, then what/where is it?
the either or positioning and revision
The “Either/Or” Positioning and Revision
  • “It is deeply satisfying to believe that we are not locked into our original statements, that we might start and stop, erase, use the delete key in life, and be saved from the roughness of our early drafts. Words can be retracted …” (26)
  • Is it clear the Sommers sees an understanding of authority as directly related to revision?
  • If authority were an either/or “thing,” then our first drafts would be “wrong,” not “in need of revision”
sommers s research question
Sommers’s Research Question
  • “Where does revision come from? Or, as I think about it now, what happens between the drafts? Something has to happen or else we are stuck doing mop and broom work, the janitorial work of polishing, cleaning, and fixing what is and always has been” (28)
  • Do you see revision as “mop and broom work” or as something more significant? How can we learn to make revision a significant aspect of the writing process? How does Sommers answer this question?
sommers s answer
Sommers’s Answer
  • “These either/or ways of seeing exclude life and real revision by pushing us to safe positions, to what is known. They are safe positions that exclude each other and don’t allow for any ambiguity, uncertainty. Only when I suspend myself between either and or can I move away from conventional boundaries and begin to see shapes and shadows and contours – ambiguity, uncertainty, and discontinuity, moments when the seams of life just don’t want to hold … my life is full of uncertainty; negotiating that uncertainty day to day gives me authority” (29)
between the drafts1
Between the Drafts
  • “… between the drafts of my life is a journey of learning how to be both personal and authoritative, both scholarly and reflective. It is a journey that leads me to embrace the experiences of my life, and gives me the insight to transform these experiences into evidence. I begin to see discontinuous moments as strength and knowledge. When my writing and my life actually come together, the safe positions of either/or will no longer pacify me, no longer contain me and hem me in” (29)
  • Are “you” in your writing? Are you in your writing to the extent that you’ve trusted yourself and your experiences as “evidence”? Does it make sense that “… discontinuous moments are strength and knowledge”? Most importantly, how does discontinuity provide an opportunity to exercise authority?
the challenge
The Challenge
  • “Given the opportunity to speak [your] own authority as writers, given a turn in the conversation, [you] can claim [your] stories as primary source material and transform your experiences into evidence.
  • Sommers advises … be empowered not to serve the academy/university by to write essays that will change it
  • “It is in the thrill of the pull between someone else’s authority and your own, between submission and independence, that we must discover how to define ourselves. In the uncertainty of that struggle, we have a chance of finding the voice of our own authority” (31).
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