Thursday, February 13, 2014

“But Don’t Get Me Wrong”-The Art of Metacommentary


In your main text you say something-claim, and the metacommentary text is commenting on your own claim telling readers and others how and how not to read you text- explaining your claim

Why do you need to use metacommentary?

1)      As clearly and great you write the readers can fail to understand/misinterpret your writing. Therefore, we should use metacommentary to clarify our points.

2)      It helps us make our writing longer and develop our ideas more deeply.

What else can be metacommentary?

Titles-most important metacommentary because it tells the readers what they’re expected to read…

Subtitles- elaborates and further explains the titles

Entertaining objections

Framing quotations

Transitions- helps explain the relationship between different claims

Answering “so what?” and “who cares?” questions – explain who is the audience and why


Exercise 1:

Does she use metacommentary? Yes

You can see the use of metacommentary in the article “Thinking Outside of the Thinking Box” by Dana Stevens in her first paragraph. She uses metacommentary to let us know she is summarizing Johnson’s claim. First she says “if” hinting us that there will be friction between 2 things. She introduces us to the author and claim she is arguing against. We can tell she is arguing/ disagreeing based on the words “I could make no sense...” She summarizes for us by saying “as far as I can tell” Johnson’s views and then tells us her view by saying “in other words...”


“If watching TV really makes you smarter, as Steven Johnson argued in an article in yesterday's New York TimesMagazine (an excerpt from his forthcoming book) then I guess I need to watch a lot more of it, because try as I might, I could make no sense of Johnson's piece. As far as I can tell, his thesis is that television shows have slowly grown more and more complicated over the last two decades (this paradigm shift apparently having begun with Hill Street Blues, the Gutenberg Bible of the smart-TV era), so that now, like rats in a behaviorist's maze, trained viewers can differentiate among up to 12 distinct plotlines in shows like The Sopranos. (The technical term for this great leap forward in human cognition: "multi-threading.") In other words, if I understand correctly, watching TV teaches you to watch more TV—a truth already grasped by the makers of children's programming like Teletubbies, which is essentially a tutorial instructing toddlers in the basics of vegging out.” (Stevens)

Does she follow the templates from TSIS? One of them – “in other words” (which alerts readers about an elaboration of a previous point. The rest of the tmplates she uses are not the same but similar.

I think Stevens use of metacommentary enhances her article because it clarifies her argument and Johnsons argument in a precise manner so that readers can understand her writing better, her argument and how her points connect.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Shirel! I can see where you used this to break down her article in your essay :-)

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