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Expectations: Teaching Writing from the Reader's Perspective, 1st edition

  • George Gopen

Published by Pearson (January 7th 2004) - Copyright © 2004

1st edition

Expectations: Teaching Writing from the Reader's Perspective

ISBN-13: 9780205296170

Includes: Paperback
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$101.32 $126.65

What's included

  • Paperback

    You'll get a bound printed text.


By exploring and explaining the perceptive patterns that readers of English follow in their interpretive process, this rhetoric approaches the task of teaching writing from the perspective of readers. As a result, students learn how to write with conscious knowledge of reader's expectations. KEY TOPICS: Readers have relatively fixed expectations of where in the structure of any unit of discourse (clause, sentence, paragraph, or document) to expect the arrival of specific kinds of substance. Taking most of their textual clues for interpretation not from the meanings of individual works, but rather from where those words appear in the structure of a sentence or paragraph, when trying to understand a sentence, readers need to find the answers to five important questions:

  • What is going on here?
  • Whose story is it?
  • What is the most important piece of information in this sentence?
  • How does this sentence link backwards to the one that precedes it?
  • How does this sentence lean forwards to the one that follows it? In order to answer these questions, readers look in certain places or structural locations in the sentence. With an approach that de-mystifies the language and writing process, the writer has new powers to, (1) control what readers are likely to make of the text; and (2) re-enter their own thought processes to judge both cohesion and coherence. MARKET: Ideal for people who want a rhetoric that approaches the task of teaching writing from the perspective of readers.

Table of contents


1. The Problems of Interpretation and the Efficacy of Reader Expectation Theory.

2. Action and Agency.

Single Actions.

A String of Actions.


A Few Pedagogical Hints Reviewed.
3. Subject-Verb-Complement Separations.

4. Beginnings and Endings: The Topic and Stress Positions.

Structure, Substance, Context, and Some Helpful Boxes.

Whose Story?

The Topic Position.

The Stress Position.
5. Using Topic/Stress to Control Development Within the Paragraph.

Overcoming Splat Prose.

Style and the Consistency of Choice.

Using Topic/Stress to Solve Typical Student Writing Problems.

The Multiple Uses of the Stress Position.

Topic Changing and Topic Stringing.

Exerting Control Over Revision Through Topic Stringing.

Seeking Control Over Reader Response.

The Toll Booth Syndrome.
6. Paragraphs: Issues, Points, and Purposes.

Procrustean Problems in Teaching the Paragraph.



Point Placement and Paragraph Types.

A Typology of Paragraphs?


The Writer's Power to Shape and Change Reader Expectations Concerning Paragraph Structure.

Pointless Paragraphs.

Connections Between Paragraphs.

A Note on Whole Documents.


7. Learning and Teaching the Reader Expectation Approach.

Learning to Teach Writing from the Perspective of Reader Expectations.

Supplementary Techniques and Related Concerns.

The Most Common Student Objections to REA.

An Example.
8. “I Knew That.”

Two Typical Responses.

Herbert Spencer's “Philosophy of Style.”

Where Are the Linguists When We Need Them?

The Prague School of Linguistics and Functional Sentence Perspective.

Thrusts and Parries.


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