September 15, 2012

Writing can't be a chameleon.

This week I struggled with the idea of whether or not Campbell was correct is saying that Truth's writing should not have been altered. In his writing, Campbell explains that agency is "Communal, social, cooperative, participatory and, simultaneously, constituted and constrained by the material and symbolic elements of context and culture." (Page 3) I found this to almost go against the argument that he attempts to make in the rest of his work. He states that he finds this manipulation concerning because it does not do justice to agency and it is a lie. I would disagree with this statement due in part to Barthes' "Death Of An Author." In Barthes work, he says that not only do we need an author to construct the words, but we also need a reader in order to create understanding and meaning. I struggled with understanding these two texts in relation to one another because I didn't understand how Campbell could say that agency is created by context and culture when Truth's work was adapted to appeal to a certain type of group that may not have received the message before.

Barthes would probably agree that what Gage did would be facilitating understanding by adapting to a certain type of readership in order to spread the message further. Would this be completely manipulating agency? Or would this just be adapting agency further on? I think what I struggled with is how is Campbell defining agency. Campbell believes that the death of the author is extremely exaggerated, which I took to mean that the author retains some sort of identity through their writing and what Gage did was completely erase Truth’s true self from her work. I wondered why Truth would agree to Gage’s changes unless she felt that the overall message of her speech retained its rhetorical value. I believed that Gage had just opened up Truth’s work to another audience. 

1 comment:

MeganW said...

In regards to the idea of the agency being manipulated versus agency being adapted I feel that at that point in time Gage was simply adapting it. Looking at the text as a whole in comparison to the time in which Gage fictionalized it to me it comes off as a way to simply reiterate Truth's words so that they would be a little more similar in context to a southern African American accent. As for how Campbell describes agency I feel the same way as you. After reading it over a few times though it seems as if she is trying to get it across that agency is never just one thing and the agency can come off in several different ways and she is just describing to us via examples how she believes agency works. In regards to this it seems like this is also how she wrote her paper. She tried to make it as simple as possible to exemplify her meanings of agency through creating separate sections within her paper based on the list of beliefs that are stated in the italicized writing prior to the essay and within her introduction.

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