Putting an End to the Dichotomy of Student and Writer

Last week, I wrote a blog about Nancy Sommers, a Harvard professor, that wrote a piece called “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers”. This week, I’m going to look into another article she wrote about getting rid of the idea that one must either be a student or an adult professional writer, but rather how we can be both. This article of hers is titled “Between the Drafts”.

The changes between Sommers’s article on student and professional writers varies greatly from this latest piece, “Between the Drafts.” For one, Sommers’s “Between the Drafts” is much more personal of a narrative and, of course, is more in line with Murray’s piece “All Writing is Autobiographic” (which I also wrote a blog about) than with her own previous work. Sommers addresses the difference in her own writing style early on by stating “I speak in an inherited academic voice; it isn’t mine” (282).

Pictured: Nancy Sommers and her Academic Voice.

Sommers made this realization in a conversation between colleagues and realized that she sought authority outside of her own experience to justify her thoughts while her conversation partner “hadn’t felt the need to speak through his sources or interject their names into our own conversation. His teaching stories and experienced are his own; they give him the authority to speak” (283).

Through this experience Sommers realized that she didn’t need to separate being a student and a writer, as she had in her previous article, but rather that a world existed where everyone could be both. I think the biggest difference between Sommers two articles is that she got rid of the dichotomy. Students don’t have to be just students and professional writers don’t just have to be professional writers. She realized that the thought that “either I be personal or I be academic” (284) has the wrong conjunction within the statement.

Personally, I agree more with Sommers’s article “Between the Drafts” than her original revision article. I feel that students are more than just students and are made up of multiple, not one, characteristic that combines into one identity that can be expressed through writing. In my own life I know that I am a student, a sister, a peer mentor and tutor, a writer, a poet, and so many other things. I don’t just wear one of these identities at once, rather, all parts come together to make me, well, me.

– Amanda Riggle


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