Reading Response: Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon

This journal article ‘Rhetoric and Competition’ written by Linda Hutcheon, who is a literary critic. The article is published on The Common Knowledge Volume 9,Issue,Winter 2003. In the article, Hutcheon discusses the rhetoric and competition in academic field, including “a colleague as an ‘enemy’ to be scorned and condemned”, “the commercialization and corporatization of the universities” and zero-sum game. She thought that cooperation is better than competition and critical thinking mean other than and more than confrontation.


Firstly, I want to focus on the writing style of these three pieces of works. Bateson and Hutcheon seems like to use first-person to express their opinions, they quoted lots of their own experience in the paragraphs, this writing technique can catches audiences’s eyes easily. Meanwhile, the Werron’s article “Why do we believe in competition? A historical-sociological view of competition as an institutionalized modern imaginary” uses a more academic way to discuss the topic.

Secondly, from the content. Bateson and Hutcheon both agrees that cooperation is more important than competition. In Bateson’s “The Myths of Independence and Competition”, she thinks individuals need to learn be independent on each other but not compete with each other, everyone is a part of larger system. She uses some example in biology, such as the cells, and also some self experiences. Werron’s article presents the history of ‘competition’, how people see competition in different times and how it develops with the change of people’s mind.


I believe that they have different ideas on the word ‘competition’, because they have different occupations and they experience different competitions. “A form that requires that at least to participants struggle for the same scarce good, without necessarily directly interacting with each other.” This is a definition of competition in Werron’s article, he use whole article to compare the definition of competition through history. Bateson and Hutcheon haven’t give us a clear definition but I think they regard competition as a part of our societal activity and it can motivate us although it will also have negative effects.

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