Reading response on Linda Hutcheon’s “Rhetoric and Competition” #PO3


In “Rhetoric and Competition”, Hutcheon attempts to discuss the topic of competition in the fields of modern academic discourse, assisted by historic and well-built examples by other scholars. In her writing, she tries to validity her argument – effective utilization of competition or less could contribute and advantage the modern academic ways of thinking and being – by composing her arguments in the first person view. Comparing the structure and content of Hutcheon’s article with Bateson’s and Werron’s, Hutcheon focuses competition in a particular field, that is modern academy. Bateson and Werron focuses on competition in a relatively narrow approach, offering numerous perspectives in various disciplines such as sociology, politics and economics. Although the three scholars’ argument discusses competition, they have subtle differences. For example, Werron suggests that further observation has to be done to conclude a more profound definition of competition. On the other hand, Bateson and Huchenon both are convinced that competition can be most beneficial when it is performed in a “collaborative” way. 

Regarding Hutcheon’s “Rhetoric and Competition”, she proves her argument by illustrating current societal phenomenons, in which she reveals a sense of concern and worry that I personally think is a valuable approach by drawing the attentions of the reader since the vast community would put emphasis on the society they live in. Therefore, I assume her intended audience are scholars, or people who more or less participates in academic fields. A point proposed by her which essentially talks about how scholars tries to show and prove other scholars being entirely wrong, which is supported by a quote by William Blake “Without contraries is no progression.”. But, Hutcheon argues whether if this “subtractive” logic best justify the optimum state that our academy could be in. Accordingly, she presents the idea of collaboration between scholars where citations act as the action of sharing and borrowing, and building on the good of others. I personally take no sides in this presentation of ideas since I sort of lean towards William Blake’s saying that without contraries is no progression, although I believe there are substitute methods where the outcome of progression can be achieved without composing a heated debate over who is right or wrong.  In the beginning of Hutcheon’s article, it is evident that she has literature background. So, in her writing, multiple literal terms are used in the context of competition. For example wolfish and agon. She explains the background and the meaning of these terminologies so that we, readers, could understand the context of her arguments. 

Essentially, although Hutcheon, Werron and Bateson takes either diverse or similar approaches in their writing, the term ‘competition’ is the root of their argument and discussion. The context of their writing sets them apart from each other, but their points also interrelate to each other as ‘competition’ always comes down to two parties struggling or fighting over something that is limited, a scarce good. Specifically focusing on Hutcheon’s standpoint, I suppose she disputes the idea of “violence” in the fields of academy, and suggests that a rethinking of the idea of counter-discourses may have the potential to offer a new model for our academic ways of thinking and writing – and even acting. I would like to put emphasis on the adverb ‘may’, because I believe that a certain way of ‘violence’ in the academic fields could potentially offer room for evolution or substantial development. (It is obversed that other readers such as shawnpak has similar understanding of the similaries and differences of the three authors: Hutcheon, Werron and Bateson. For example, he also talked about how Hutcheon believes that compeition can be most beneficial when it’s performed ‘collaboratively’. )

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