The third space: the role of interpretation in the production of discourse

Date
1998
Authors
Kastman, Lee-Ann
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Altmetrics
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English
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Abstract

Some "postmodern" writing pedagogies have attempted to account for indeterminacy of meaning and situatedness in the writing act. I argue that these attempts at "postmodern pedagogy" are unsuccessful and that indeterminacy of meaning and situatedness in the writing act can be explained more clearly through the lens of interpretation;The role of interpretation in the production of discourse (writing) has seldom been discussed; interpretation has been discussed more often in terms of the reception of discourse. I argue that interpretation in the writing act involves communicative interaction with others, and that indeterminacy of meaning and situatedness in the writing act occur in the "third space" between writers and audiences during communicative interaction;The third space is a theoretical concept that demonstrates the junction of interpretations between a writer and audience during the act of writing. I base the concept of third space primarily on Donald Davidson's concept of "passing theory"--a momentary, partial interpretation that occur between speakers. I argue that passing theories represent postmodern characteristics such as indeterminacy of meaning/situatedness in the reception as well as production of discourse;The third space can be used as a tool to evaluate communicative interaction in the writing act. In this dissertation, I examine two communicative interactions during the writing act. One examination occurs in a technical communication classroom, and the other occurs in a writing center. I analyze communicative interaction in these two settings using the concept of the third space to illustrate interpretation in the writing act;This investigation about interpretation and the third space has two important implications for writing pedagogy. One implication is that emphasizing interpretation in the production of discourse encourages us to value one-to-one interactions both within and beyond the writing classroom. A second implication is that embracing interpretation as central to the writing act means that we must move beyond a process pedagogy that advocates a codified, structured model for the writing act. Instead, by focusing on the third space--the intersection of differing interpretations about writing--we can learn how writer and audience negotiate writing and how communicative interaction influences the writing act.

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English, Rhetoric and professional communication
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