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Ways of Reading and Jane Tompkins

In the book, Ways of Reading, the authors Bartholomae and Petrosky outline what they describe as a “strong reader”. They characterize the attributes that collectively contribute to this title and then talk about the relations between a strong reader and a strong writer. The perspectives that Bartholomae and Petrosky discuss on ideas and textual analysis are very interesting and in point of fact remind me of the thought process of which I use when analyzing a reading. “ Strong readers often read critically, weighing, for example, an author claims and interpretations against evidence-evidence provided by the author in the text, evidence drawn from other sources, or the evidence that is assumed to be part of a reader’s own knowledge and experience.”(p.12)The easy way to read a text is to observe the general plot and to formulate ideas about the text through a first reading. A strong reader cannot only observe a reading; they can analyze the text and formulate an opinion through not only their own perspective and opinion, but through utilizing their own ideas as well as those of the authors and societies’. Reading Jane Tompkins’s Indians, we find that the “strong reader” description is quickly applicable. In Tompkins’s essay, the reader is fed the faade that Tompkins’s is writing on the relations between the Puritans first entering this country and the Native Americans already residing there. Her introduction to this paper is a personal reflection of a memory she has retained since her childhood. The reason for writing this essay she explains, is to prepare for a course she was to be teaching. The essay appears to be that of exceptional quality. Not only does she analyze the sources of which she has looked for understanding, she begins to discuss the bias in which every reading is coated. Her essay quickly turns into an analysis of the bias facts issued by authors and it...

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