Reading Response: Hutcheon’s Rhetoric & Competition

occupational health and safetyIn this week’s reading of Rhetoric and Competition, Linda Hutcheon depicts the essence of competition in today’s professional environments, most notably in academic situations. Being an academic working in the fields of literary theory and criticism, opera, and Canadian studies herself, Hutcheon promotes and defends her argument by utilizing examples and explanations of subjectively toxic competition we sometimes encounter in academic discourse (aggressive audience responses following philosophical lectures) and a thorough analysis of the semantics generally used when assessing competition (decomposition and interpretation of  “agon”, distinction between “both/and” and “either/or), etc.). The aforementioned argument, which Hutcheon defends in her literary discourse, states that redefining both competition and discourse as less aggressive ways to challenge information shared by others could be a new model to prioritize in academic situations. In other words, the author suggests that a more collaborative form of counter-discourse should be used academically. As a reference to Andyyongchengshih’s reading response (see linked WordPress article), I also believe that Hutcheon’s sense of concern regarding the cutthroat counter-discourse we often witness in academic environments is valuable, since I too see students limiting their access to potential knowledge by simply counter-sharing what theyknow about the topic of discussion rather than complementing what has been said. For example, I have regularly heard students interrupt their classmates by “agreeing” with what they say, only to share their completely opposite point of view once they obtain everyone’s attention! This, in my opinion, proves that, to some students, being heard by the professor is actually more important than acquiring new information by listening to others.


In comparison to both Bateson and Werron, I personally find Rhetoric and Competitionto be a just middle between Bateson’s discernible subjectivity and Werron’s more objective take on competition. Actually, in my opinion, by combining Bateson’s hyperboles and clear opinions with Werron’s barrage of scholastic references, Hutcheon created a balanced mix of personal views and concrete arguments in which one is rather easily distinguishable from the other. As for similarities and differences regarding the texts’ forms, I believe Hutcheon mostly resembles Werron in the sense that both seem to target more educated readers possibly studying the text’s subject by referencing past work from Richard Terdiman, Gerald Graff, Edward Said, Hélène Cixous and many others. Despite a few apparent differences, all three texts nevertheless relate to each other through the common denominator that is competition, and further contribute to what I, personally, know about the subject.

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