Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reading Response: Flynn Articles

Readings on Writing
Reading Response
Flynn Articles

In “Composing as a Woman,” Elizabeth Flynn attempts to explore the differences between men and women in composition and writing. She calls for a feminist approach to composition studies. This approach would focus on questions of disparity and power in written language. Flynn surveys the research of Chodorow, Gilligan, and Belenky et al, to explore the social and psychological development of men versus women. Flynn then uses that research to relate to works from her own students. She details the stories of two men and two women and claims that the students’ use different ways of writing based on their gender. Flynn’s main argument is that ignoring the different compositions of women would “silence women” because the current practices and models are designed for teaching males.

“Contextualizing ‘Composing as a Woman’” was just a reflection by Flynn on her past article. She states that even when writing the article she was uneasy on some of its contents. She also said that her previous article was pivotal in the research of feministic composition at that time period even though some of its claims have been contradicted. Flynn talked about how the article has been reprinted several times and she hopes that readers value its historical context and recognize its importance.

This article can be related to the work of Berger, Elbow, and Porter. Berger’s article encompassed old European Art of women and that the social presence of men and women is very different. It has evolved to be that way. He states that, “Men act and women appear.” Berger also explains that the way we view things is determined by what we already know- thus he questions if the true meaning of an image has been disguised over time (because of photographic reproduction and changing cultural construction). Flynn also distinguishes the social differences between men and women and their different ways of writing. Flynn talks about writing being a product of what we already understand, just as Berger says the same determines our view.

Elbow’s article detailed using “voice” in paper. Flynn stated, in response of the work of Belenky et al., “They found that the quest for self and voice plays a central role in transformations of women’s ways of knowing” (159). Flynn’s article touched upon the ways in which women write and how their way of knowing the world influences that practice. Voice, as Elbow explained can make or break a paper- thus a particular way of knowing, and expressing such, can greatly influence women’s composition.

Porter’s article was about intertextuality, or how other texts are combined to make a new argument in text. Flynn’s article actually demonstrates this since she frequently refers to the works of several feministic pioneers, such as Chodorow and Gilligan. She uses the texts of other authors within her own work to frame her ideas. Also, Flynn’s actual argument can be related to Porter’s work because she describes how women’s composition can differ from that of men simply due to the fact that they have different ways of knowing the world and learn in different ways. In this sense, it is not the actual texts that are being entwined to make a new text, but it is the history and characteristics of the writer that are entwined to make an original text. 


  1. Stephanie--
    Excellent post. Flynn's article also references her first.

  2. Do you see any connections to Malinowitz?

  3. Yes, I do.
    Malinowitz’s main argument is that sexual identity and homosexual studies should be incorporated into the classroom because it ultimately discourages discrimination, and because otherwise -it denies students the opportunity to learn how “sexual identity is constructed through language” and writing discourse. Flynn's text is similar in the sense that she discusses gender identity and how feminine writing should be explored further. Not doing so denies female students the opportunity to learn in manner more suited to them.