Academic writing is considered to be dry, formulaic, and lacking empathy. It differs from regular writing on several levels, ranging from rhetorical knowledge and conventions and ending with the compositional process as well as critical reading and writing (Singh-Corcoran 28).
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At the same time, the purpose of writing does not lie only in the transfer of information but also in making the readers sympathize and empathize with what is being written in order for the learning process to become effective (Graff and Birkenstein 3). Although considered as a necessity to eliminate bias, it is not considered to be an effective tool, as there are many ways for students to project their own personal views and beliefs while sounding impartial. The following conversation will consider the importance of empathy in writing.
The Conversation Between Leslie Jamison and Singh-Corcoran
The quote for this assignment was taken from Leslie Jamison’s writings. It shows her strong beliefs in the necessity of empathy in writing (Jamison 34). Her appeal is strong and emotional; she speaks from her own perspective, without using the They Say / I Say tool proposed by Graff and Birkenstein. It helps to empathize with the author but does not support her claims with outside evidence.
Singh-Corcoran’s writing, on the other hand, uses They Say / I Say templates often. His article begins with a generalization and the presentation of supporting evidence before he starts expressing his own opinions on the matter (Singh-Corcoran 25). He acknowledges the importance of empathy, though indirectly, by stating that neither he nor any of his students could see the value in the First-Year Composition (FYC) courses. Nevertheless, he sustains the importance of FYC, despite its flaws, for academic prowess.
I imagine the conversation between these two individuals revolving around the balance between empathy and objectivity. Jamison would likely be the proponent of empathy, while Singh-Corcoran would sustain the importance of form and standards in order to succeed in the industry.
Ultimately, I can see both of them obtaining a compromise, as Singh-Corcoran’s position does suggest his awareness about how academic writing and language is lacking empathy, which makes the readers less likely to take an interest in the subject. I believe that the They Say / I Say framework proposed by Graff and Birkenstein would be a compromise between the two, as it accounts not only for academic standards but also for personal expression while providing useful templates for newcomers to rely upon.
Empathy is an important tool often neglected in academic writing. Jamison views empathy as a necessity to show the readers that a person has something at stake, whereas Singh-Corcoran is of the opinion that the existing state of FYC is a necessary evil. Nevertheless, I think both of them would agree that there is a middle ground, which could be found in the They Say / I Say framework, which enables the writers to represent their own ideas while acknowledging those of others.
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Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd ed., Norton, 2010.
Jamison, Leslie. The Empathy Exams. Granta Books, 2014.
Singh-Corcoran, Nathalie. “Composition as a Write of Passage.” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2, edited by Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemlyansky, Parlor Press, 2011, pp. 24-36.