Rhetoric and Competition: Academic Agonistics (Week 3)

Rhetoric and Competition: Academic Agonistics is an article written by Linda Hutcheon in 2003 that was published in the Common Knowledge journal Volume 9 Issue 1. This literary work discusses the current situation of discourse pertaining to academia and argues that a rethinking of counter-discourse will provide a new model towards our scholarly ways, and provide an alternative before a wolfish place consumes our academic community.

There is a certain sense of similarity with our two other readings: Bateson’s The Myths of Independence and Competition and Werron’s Why do we believe in competition? A historical-sociological view of competition as an institutionalized modern imaginary.  The common theme between these readings was competition, whether it was in an economical sense, sociological and empirical meaning, academic implication, biological nuance or in a social environment standpoint. However, each reading gave their own standpoints and views. Bateson’s and Hutcheon’s papers were written in a view that was based more on self contemplation and with their own ideas while Werron’s paper was a scientific paper based on formal teachings that was supported through factual evidence throughout history. For example, he referenced Simmel’s sociological view or Smith’s idea of “free competition”. While Bateson used evidence from her own sense of ideology like how we have to develop interdependence rather than competition through viewing a hand as multiple pieces that work in unison rather than one connected piece. Hutcheon drew evidence from other people’s paper and used it to strengthen her own points like how she used a paragraph from Jane Tompkins work to exemplify a familiar scenario of how common competition is in school.

Every paper provides a different view with competition. Bateson’s paper was arguing how competition isn’t needed in our modern world but rather how we need to be interdependent. Werron’s paper offer a timeline of how competition became what it is currently as it developed through different important figures and their own ideologies. Hutcheon’s paper was based around how common competition occurs in our daily world and in circumstances where competition isn’t initially needed but are there due to how our society changes, and how this competition is changing academic discourse.

Competition has been brought into every facet of our lives due to the society that we live in. Bateson said that independence is a trait that is taught to us at a young age. Furthermore, I believe that competition or being competitive is another trait that is instilled into our young minds. This is due to society showing us how competitive it is in the business world to secure a job or how competitive it is in sports, which was a point that was mentioned by Werron. In fact, now there are competitions, which is just people, or teams, competing to achieve a common goal of being the best in their certain discipline.  There are also informal competitions. These competitions are the ones that we grew accustomed to. For example, these competitions would be getting into competitive programs or getting into good universities or just in sports or clubs.

I personally feel like competition is needed as it motivates people to become a better version of themselves.

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