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The Art of Metacommentary

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Lorena Lipe

on 21 November 2014

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Transcript of The Art of Metacommentary

"But Don't Get Me Wrong

1. Why do you need metacommentary?
Readers can fail to understand what you mean even if your writing is clear and precise
readers can get lost in a complicated argument
readers can fail to see how points connect
readers can fail to follow your argument
readers can follow your reasoning and examples but fail to see your conclusion
readers can fail to see your argument’s overall significance
readers can mistake your argument for a related argument that they have heard before but you want to distance yourself from
2. no matter how straightforward your writing is, readers still need help to understand what you really mean
3. metacommentary limits misinterpretations

Use Metacommentary to Clarify and Elaborate
1. Entertaining objections
Responding to critics
2. Adding transitions
Linking and showing relationships between ideas
3. Framing quotations
Interpreting the reasons for quotations
4. Answering "so what?” "who cares?”
Stepping away your argument to explain who should be interested and why

Use Other Moves as Metacommentary
Metacommentary is a way of commenting on your claims and telling readers how and how not to think about them.
As a writer, you need metacommentary to tell readers what you mean and to guide them through your text.
When you use metacommentary, you will develop your ideas and generate more text and depth to your writing.
When you think you’ve said everything there is to possibly say, use a metacommentary template to expand on your writing a little further.

The Art of Metacommentary
by: Lorena Lipe, Jasmine Lee, and Juezhi Hu
Graff & Birkenstein Chapter 10:
Titles as
Templates for Introducing Metacommentary
Class Exercise

In groups of three, use the templates on pages 135-137 to help determine where the author uses metacommentary in the following passage:
"But then I read the next two sentences. 'It’s remarkable, really, how little resonance that Clinton sex scandal has today. The White House intern who shook the world is barely ever mentioned in the 2012 presidential campaign.'
What the writer was trying to do was set up her main criticism, which is that this four-hour documentary invested too much time on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and failed to unpack the more meaningful political hot spots of his eight years in office.... I can’t fault her for doing this. I did the same thing at various points in my newspaper career."
- Chuck Klosterman,
I Wear The Black Hat
In the same groups, select a movie, novel, or song title and rework it to incorporate metacommentary. The reworked title should act as a summary of the main points of the work.
Ex: Beyonce- ***FLAWLESS
***FLAWLESS: A Critique of Modern Patriotism and the Reinforcement of Female Self- Affirmation
1. Avoiding misunderstandings
"This is not to say..., but rather...."
2. Building on previous points
"To put it another way,...."
3. Preview and overview your essay
"Just now argued that... now I will examine..."
4. Providing a concrete example
"Consider..., for example."
 5. Showing your idea’s priority
"Just as important, ...."
6. Refuting anticipated objections
"Some people may object that, however,
I would answer..."
 7. Summarizing and wrapping up
  " My conclusion is that..."

A. titles are one of the most important forms of metacommentary
i. tells readers what to expect
B. sub titles are metacommentary too
i. elaborates on main title
C. vague or no titles
i. shows that the writer is uninterested in guiding readers

4. if you run out of things to write, use metacommentary
to extract the full potential from your ideas to draw out important implications
everything possible in an argument can be used
metacommentary helps you recognize implications of your ideas you didn’t realize were there
5. Examples
“In other words, she doesn’t realize how right she is.”
“What _____ really means is ____.”
“My point is not ____ but _____”
“Ultimately, then, my goal is to demonstrate that ______”
“It is my intention in this book to show ___”
previews his argument
“With this in view, my task in these chapters ___ is ___ I must, first, demonstrate ___ and then ____”
spells out how he will make his argument
“But to avoid the possibility that my analysis will be interpreted as _____ I must first explain that _______”

"Metacommentary is a way of commenting on your claims and telling readers how- and how not- to think about them."
Whether you realize it or not, you practice the art of metacommentary everyday.
Think of metacommentary as the chorus in a Greek play!
Or, as "metatext"- a second text which explains the meaning of the main text while also guiding the reader in interpretation.
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