1st or 3rd person?


As we discussed, different disciplines have varying conventions as to the use of first person; generally speaking, it is more typical in the humanities than the sciences, though it is perhaps surprisingly more common overall that we might expect. In “Teaching the Conventions of Academic Discourse,” Teresa Thonney examined 24 articles from six top journals in psychology, sports medicine, biology, marketing, English, and engineering; she found that engineering articles eschewed the first person, but that 19 of the remaining 20 articles used first person. Her discussion is well worth reading, for this and other features of academic discourse.

As was suggested, one legitimate challenge of using first person is avoiding sounding self-aggrandizing; likewise, one challenge of using third person is maintaining a clear distinction between your own argument and that of another. My sense of things is that this is an outsized “rule” that often distracts students from other concerns, and unless a student’s use is extreme in one direction or another (for example, an overabundance of “I” or awkward passive voice), I’m not sure I would treat it as a first-order concern. In terms of setting up the essay structure or methodology, I’m fine with either “I argue that” or “this essay argues that”; “it is argued in this essay that” is right out, however. 🙂

Helen Keller background

If you have not seen The Miracle Worker, this mini-bio from the Bio network is a good example of the “pious” public image of Keller that George suggests she is best known for—and struggled against.

This newsreel on Keller’s 1948 visit to Australia offers a good illustration (starting about 45 sec. in) of how Keller delivered speeches.

Here’s the “Put Your Husband in the Kitchen” article critiquing Fordism that George cites; it is pretty funny.

Declaration of Sentiments

The unnamed feminist text that George quotes at the beginning of her essay is actually a passage from the Declaration of Sentiments from the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. It’s a fascinating document arguing for women’s rights, modeled on the Declaration of Independence; e.g., “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

Sadly, the original is missing—and the National Archives is looking for it.


Background to “The Crisis”

Some extra context for Catt’s “Crisis” speech, a Suffrage Map and timeline that offers a rough picture of where things stood when Catt gave her address, and a link to a full-length, critical edition of her speech [UM], which includes her detailed outlining of her plan to push for a federal amendment.

To get a sense of some of the rhetorical constraints suffragists faced at the turn of the century, see Ida Husted Harper’s 1903 “Miss Anthony at Home,” which emphasizes her “domestic” attriubutes.

Welcome to 319

Welcome to ENG 319; I’m looking forward to meeting you soon and working with you this semester. A few important announcements:

1. Our course website will be here, rather than CTools/Canvas. There is no need to “log in” to the site, but to view the readings you will need to enter a special username and password, which I have emailed to all registered students. Let me know if you need this info.

2. Please take a moment to review the working syllabus to ensure your interest in the course and to familiarize yourself with its requirements. I also recommend downloading a practice reading just to make sure everything is working properly. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

See you soon.