September 16, 2012

the text as agency

In section 5 Campbell states that one of her definitions of agency is that it is textual or that “texts have agency” (Campbell, 7). She goes on to talk about how a text has many different audiences that are to read the text written but that it is the form of the text that holds the power of it. It allows them to categorize what they are reading. She goes on later to say that “form is the foundation of all communication, but it is also a type of agency that has the power to separate a text form its nominal author” (Campbell, 7). So with Campbell saying this and her discussion of Gage’s fictive text I think I can finally understand why she decided it might be a bad idea to have removed the dialect that smothered the text in the first place. Even though, as we discussed in class, that Truth was a freed Dutch American slave with English being her second language, not a broken black southern accent, in my mind she seems like someone who represented everyone as a whole so maybe Gage wrote the speech in a way that would be more relatable to the type of demographic at the time.

Not to mention I think it was stated that Gage wrote this speech given by Truth about 12 years after the speech was given so maybe this is how Gage remembers it being spoken with the added emphasis to give the speech more power behind it. Even if this is not the case though Gage still uses the same examples the Truth used when giving her speech the added emphasis just adds a little more imagination to it. So in the end it seems as if this language used to write the speech was its agency because it was the way in which the meaning behind the words came across it and through this it seemed to separate the text from the original author, Soujourn Truth, but somehow still conveys the meaning that she had in mind.

3 comments:

Maddy Cuono said...

I agree with your evaluation of the text when you said, "she goes on to talk about how a text has many different audiences that are to read the text written but that it is the form of the text that holds the power of it. It allows them to categorize what they are reading". Through reading Barton's essay addressing the United Way and its use of pity and fear in ads, I think that this supports Campbell's feelings on agency and audience. The company created theses ads knowing who their audience was-adults that would donate money for their cause. But, also knew that many others would see the ad through newspapers, magazines, and television. The way that they created the ads and send the message, their agency, was how they became successful and reached out to their particular audience.

The ads instilled a bit of fear in their key audience of adults, especially those that children of their own, claiming that their children could one day be in the same position as the sick children they placed in the ads. Was this morally correct? Not necessarily, but it reached out and touched the audience that they needed to grab.

Shawn Binder said...

I definitely agree with you. I think that agency is able to be manipulated in order to capture the attention of the intended audience. In Barton's essay addressing the United Way, I found it interesting that agency was able to be manipulated in order to get a fearful, and therefore active response from their intended audience. I wonder if Campbell would have felt that this is wrong also since it may include a manipulation of the agent. The companies find a way to target their demographic and alter their approach in order to better appeal to their audience. I still maintain that this is okay because Gage was just doing this with Truth's overall message. Changing it to appeal to a certain demographic.

lmariachami said...

Agency is completely decided by who ever creates the situation. An author, or whoever, can definitely decide how he wants his audience to perceive something. It's what Gage, Campbell, and Robinson did. They all portrayed Sojourner Truth's speech the way they wanted it to be portrayed. From there, the audience is being told to perceive the speech from the viewpoint of the author, and not the viewpoint of Truth or someone who was in the audience the day of the speech.

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