Who Are You Really Writing Your Paper For?

Who Are You Really Writing Your Paper For?

This simple question about visualizing the audience influences how you write your paper

19
Flickr

Normally I do not usually become inspired to spontaneously write anything, however, this is one of those instances where a muse comes to me and slaps me across the face. Basically, this instance involves presenting my final paper for my Shakespeare & His Contemporaries course. The topic of my paper was about how Shakespeare portrayed the outsiders in his plays. Up to the point when I talked about Hamlet identifying himself with Pyrrhus as a hero, my professor had a few words about that particular phrasing. Although it was nothing serious, I was told that Pyrrhus acts more as a villain since he kills Priam, who is the old king of Troy. Although I did not state what I really meant by that use of the word "hero" at that moment, it made me reflect on how I write to a specific audience, in which case I wrote to a professor who knew about the Greek myth of Pyrrhus, whereas I did not.

I started to think about alternative phrases that I could have replaced the word "hero" in order to clarify the context. Clearly, I knew that Hamlet is gory and over-the-top when relating the myth to Polonius, however when I wrote that Pyrrhus was a "hero," I meant a "hero" who fit two contexts: 1. whoever Hamlet considers a hero; 2. a hero in the classical Greek mythological sense, so on par with Odysseus, Theseus, and Heracles. I wrote within the notes of my PowerPoint submission about this and that is what leads me to write this article.

In another graduate course I am taking, which is Teaching Composition, an important term that I learned involves the first-year college students' relationship with their own paper. It is egocentricity. This is NOT egoism, rather egocentricity is formally defined as the tendency to write for oneself, in other words, college students writing a paper only they themselves can understand. This habit becomes a problem when it subverts formal academic language but it also leaves the readers confused since academic language is needed as an agreed-upon vernacular designed to connect the faculty with the students.

In my case, I may have done more than confuse my professor, rather I created a grievous misunderstanding and created the assumption that I thought that a man who slaughters everyone around him, including an old man, would be someone to aspire to (which I obviously do not!). As a result, I was simply told to change the phrasing from "hero" to "man of action." However, the only change I thought needed to be made was specifying what type of "hero" is Pyrrhus, more specifically who Pyrrhus is to--not anyone else--but Hamlet himself. I needed to clarify that this was Hamlet's interpretation of Pyrrhus and not mine. In fact, I barely knew about the Greek mythological figure Pyrrhus except that from his namesake we get the phrase "Pyrrhic victory." Even for my paper, I did not use an unbiased source talking about Pyrrhus--which I asked would be an option.

That suggestion was part of how I tried to mend the image I projected upon everyone in the class. I was not worried about how that case of miscommunication would affect my presentation grade, rather I was more worried about the fact that I might have possibly painted myself in an unflattering way. Even though the main component of my presentation was about how the outsider characters elicit a complex relationship with the audience, who show pity for their marginalities but also abhorrence to the destruction they cause, this experience definitely caused me to reevaluate how I write. A way of doing that is to specify as much as I can in order to be understood.

So even as a graduate student, I continue to have problems with egocentricity. As a result, I have begun to look back at all of the writing assignments that I wrote as part of my college/university educational life and have begun to notice a glaring piece that was missing that I tried to address in the Sample Syllabus assignment for my Teaching Composition course. That problem was this: only writing for a professor or instructor. This reason is why my writing either appeared bland or did not reach the page limit. Not only should there be a WHO but also a WHAT in terms of writing for a reading audience. For example, I should have presented under the supposition that my reading audience might expect the modern context of the word "hero" and not the classical Greek myth context.

I would say that my problem was that I was so fixated on the subject of Shakespearean outsiders that I completely neglected the fact that I was addressing all of this information to a modern audience who might interpret the word "hero" completely differently from how Shakespeare would. If I ever teach a composition course at some university, I would definitely use this experience as an example of what I should expect my students to keep in mind when writing for an audience. I would specifically tell them that even as a graduate student I continued to struggle with it. I especially think that context should be taught, especially in a world where people use the word "literally" when they really mean "figuratively," "really," and "actually."

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

While parts of the U.S. are beginning to re-open after months in quarantine, the future of date nights at home is still bright — because, let's face it, wearing masks to a fancy restaurant with your boo in the coming months just doesn't sound fun.

So, if you're looking to have a little romantic fun indoors, we've got just the games for you. Click through the slideshow below for 11 couples games that'll help you two become closer than ever.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've always been interested in any product that can get me the Jennifer Lopez-esque natural glow. I'm Indian and have medium-toned skin, so getting darker was never really the goal. Rather, I've always looked for a product that would even out my skin tone and cellulite, basically making my legs look Photoshopped.

Now more than ever we're craving that healthy, tan glow most of us only get after spending a week poolside with margarita in hand. We may not be spending an SPF-soaked summer hitting on our local lifeguards. But when we're going on socially-distanced walks outside, taking viral-worthy selfies, or just want to test out the best self-tanners for when you do finally get to show off all the bikinis you binge-purchased through your quarantine boredom, these are the best to ways to glow up, no matter your shade of skin, whether you have uber-sensitive eczema-ridden skin, or just want J-Lo glow, smooth legs.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Quarantine Checkup Week 10: It's Officially Summer, Even In Quarantine

An Odyssey panel discussion about all things quarantine.

Thanks to coronavirus (COVID-19), most of the United States has gone into its own version of quarantine. While no one loves this new way of life we're adjusting to, it's the necessity that will eventually help us fling open our front doors and frolic freely once again!

Premature thinking? Maybe. But while we're in the midst of this quarantine time, we're chatting about the most terrifying, the funniest, and the weirdest thing that quarantine has forced us into recently.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments