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Response Paper - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Identity and Writing. Fan Shen’s essay, “The Classroom and the Wider Culture: Identity as a Key to Learning English Composition,” is a thought-provoking piece on the difficulties faced by the author as a Chinese student of English Composition…
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Download file to see previous pages The author’s mastery of English composition is facilitated only when he is able “to create an English self, and be that self”’ (Shen, 95). This involves: exchanging the Chinese Marxist philosophy of collective materialism for English idealism and individuality; discarding the circuitous Chinese pattern of approaching a topic in favor of the direct English ‘topic sentence;’ avoiding Chinese pictorial descriptions instead of English verbal descriptions. This concept of adopting an identity in effective writing also forms the crux of Barbara Mellix’s essay, “From Outside, In.” Mellix’s essay, “From Outside, In,” explores her evolution as a writer in terms of an African-American who speaks ‘Black English.’ She effectively relates the complexities that arise from speaking what are essentially two different languages: ‘Black English,’ and ‘Standard English.’ While the former is her own language, which “bubbled in our throats and rolled across our tongues, a balming” (Mellix, 76), the latter is the “language of others” (Mellix, 81). Standard English is reserved for special occasions and for formal writing. Learning to speak fluent Standard English is relatively easy for Mellix, but her writing continues to remain mechanical. As she struggles to become proficient in the written language, she is constrained by the difficulty of composing in Standard English: “I couldn’t think and feel genuinely in that language” (Mellix, 80). Her ultimate mastery of English composition comes about only when she learns to overcome her self-consciousness as a speaker of Black English, and convince herself to confidently assume a rightful place in the culture of Standard English. Fan Shen and Barbara Mellix adopt new, but different, identities for effective English writing. Shen and Mellix both adopt new identities to succeed in English writing. They agree that proficiency in written English requires the writer to reconcile a dichotomy in identity and “to assume a culture” (Mellix, 84). Shen must change his ‘Chinese identity’ for an ‘English identity,’ while Mellix must learn to ignore her identity as an African-American who speaks a black vernacular. Both of them must learn to be comfortable in the identities they assume for writing English. Shen’s assumption of his ‘English identity’ requires him to assume individuality, and a direct approach to a topic, while Mellix must learn “to shut out my black English” (81). Shen and Mellix create new identities and balance them with the old. Both of them accept this new identity as an enriching addition to their personalities. Shen welcomes the change which “has added a new dimension to me and to my view of the world” (101), while Mellix rejoices in the new ability to discover previously unknown aspects of herself. While Shen and Mellix share the experience of assuming new identities as writers, their concepts of identity differ. Shen’s new identity differs from that of Mellix. Shen keeps his Chinese and English identities distinct and separate, but Mellix blends her old and new selves. For Shen, the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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