Am I an Expressivist?
I've always thought that no, I'm really not an expressivist. I'm much more interested in assigning research-based argument writing in my classes than I am in assigning personal narratives or personal essays. That being said, it isn't as though those genres are mutually exclusive, obviously. Here's where I stand now:
- In my own experience having written a whole lot of different texts for academic audiences, the response to what I write is overwhelmingly more positive when I make it personal and accessible -- chatty, even -- than when I write a paper that more closely resembles the IMRAD tone and structure. I've also noticed that for academic lectures, not just ones I've given but ones I've attended, audience response is much more positive when a speaker tells stories along with presenting information and argument.
Everybody wants edutainment. They may deny it, but that is, in fact, exactly what they want, I used to think, with a bit of annoyance. But now I've come to the more charitable view that everybody wants to be delighted while they are instructed.
I believe that expressive touches (anecdotes, first person, reflective personal response to the subject matter) usually enrich the experience of both writing and reading academic discourse.
- For teaching, then, that means I want students to feel personally invested in the subject matter of their essays, even though I am requiring them to write arguments supported by evidence from scholarly or high-popular sources in which they must also engage with opposing arguments. I encourage stories of personal encounters with the topic, in the introduction or wherever the student deems appropriate. Conclusions can be reflections on the process of reading a variety of perspectives on the topic and of writing the paper.
So, am I an expressivist?